One world dies, another is born

Three women sitting on a bench“It’s about an old world dying and a new one being born,” Director Patricia Skarbinski says about the NIU School of Theatre and Dance upcoming play, “Three Sisters,” by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.

Opening Thursday, Oct. 22, “Three Sisters” tells the story of the Prozorov sisters – Olga, Masha and Irina – and their brother, Andrei, who all live on a military outpost in the large, beautiful house they inherited from their father. A brigadier general, their father left them well off and well able to maintain their membership in the elite class among the local population.

One year after their father’s death, they want nothing more than to return to the big city, Moscow, they remember from their youth. Acutely aware of their superior status, they have tired of living among small town folk with no ambition or appreciation of the finer things in life that they remembered of their former lives.

Although they could have packed and left the garrison town at any time, they don’t. Even the sisters don’t know why they stay, Skarbinski says. Instead of following their dream, the siblings make life tolerable by mingling with the only friends they have, and the only people who are of their class, the military officers of the artillery unit.

“This play deals with human nature,” Skarbinski says. “We think we are aware and in control, but we have unconscious forces governing us from within and we’re not even aware of it.”

Skarbinski believes the main character in the play is actually time itself and the inevitability of life.

Photo of an hourglass“Things will come to pass and we cannot control (them) …,” she says. “When Chekhov was writing, Victorian values were dying and a whole new world was coming about.”

Nevertheless, Skarbinski says, people are the same, whether in the Victorian period or now.

“Here we are 15 years into the 21st century and we feel our old world dying .. it’s changing values, it’s changing the way people live their lives, it’s changing what’s important.”

One of Chekhov’s final two plays, “Three Sisters” is considered a masterpiece of world literature and is presented in productions by theater companies around the globe.

“Three Sisters” runs from Thursday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 25, and from Thursday, Oct. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 31. Performances are at Huntley Middle School auditorium, located at 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday and the second Saturday. There is no late seating.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and $9 for students. Ticket reservations or additional information is available from the NIU School of Theatre and Dance box office at (815) 753-1600 or sotdboxoffice@niu.edu.

This production is not affiliated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.

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