Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury
Taking on a giant of the theatre canon, third year students from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) have their sights set on opening night for Three Sisters tomorrow night, 2 November.
Director Holly Chappell-Eason was tempted to edit Chekov’s classic play down to an hour but decided not to follow in the well-established tradition of adaptation, plenty of which has happened since the play premiered in Moscow in 1901.
The cast of Three Sisters in rehearsal
“I think it is good for the actors to contend with a full-length show,” she says.
The full length play also provides more opportunities for the cast of 18. “This play is great, because even if they are a minor character, they are a complex, interesting character, so they get to really spend time with that.”
“Students are really excited to be really delving into character, in a show that’s about dynamics, relationships, hopes and dreams, and desires. I think it has been a challenge in a good way.”
NASDA will bring its own flavour to the play. Rangimarie Nightingale, from Tauranga, plays one of the sisters, Olga, and has written all the music for the show as well. “We’re in a musical theatre school and they can sing and play instruments so it is good to incorporate that into the show.”
Emerging theatre in Christchurch
Following a Bachelor of Arts and teaching degree Chappell-Eason went to Wellington, with husband Tom Eason, for a Masters in Directing at Toi Whakari and spent another seven years freelancing, mainly based in Auckland. They returned to Christchurch post-earthquake to help nurture the emerging theatre scene. “We really felt that Christchurch could become a really vibrant arts centre but I think that starts with the young people – you can’t do that in a year but you can in 10. We were feeling like the time was right.”
With Eason she runs Two Productions in the Arts Centre, providing accessible (free) studio space for creating new theatre. “It’s about having an accessible space for young people to make work because barrier is having somewhere to rehearse. Realistically making a piece of theatre in your living room with your flatmates and your cat and your TV is not a conducive working environment.”
The couple also produce one to two of their own productions a year, direct, teach and act – Tom is in the Court Theatre show Astroman at the moment. And they have an 11 month old baby.
The students are getting a good taste of the busyness of theatre life. “We are just into full time rehearsal but they still have to keep up their regular classes as well. It’s very rare in this industry as a working professional that you work on one thing at a time. So it good practice to be rehearing while doing their singing training and dance class assessments and part time jobs and whatever they have to do.”
Tickets are available on Eventbrite, shows 2 – 8 November at 7.30pm, NASDA Theatre, Ara City campus, Madras Street. Tickets are $27 or $17 student/child/senior.