TDPS presents The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov’s tragicomic tale of family, social status and returning home

Berkeley, CA – This fall the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents Anton Chekhov’s THE CHERRY ORCHARD, directed by TDPS senior lecturer Lura Dolas. Combining heartfelt performances, intricately-constructed period costumes, original music and a new translation by Libby Appel, TDPS’s production illuminates the humanity at the heart of this classic tale of twentieth-century social upheaval.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD opens Friday, October 23, 2015 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus and runs through Sunday, November 1, 2015. Tickets are $13-$20, and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office or at the door.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Chekhov’s great classic and the last play written before his death, features a rich tapestry of humanly-flawed characters trapped on the wheel of fortune. As Russia rolls toward revolution, Lyubov Ranevskaya, a once-wealthy landowner, returns home after years abroad to find that her ancestral property and beloved cherry orchard are slated for the auction block. A family friend, Yermolai Lopakhin, proposes that Ranevskaya save the estate by clearcutting the orchard and building summer rental cottages on the land. Meanwhile, Ranevskaya’s beloved brother Leonid Gayev vows to save the property, her daughters Anya and Varya dream of a future free from the orchard, and her servants fear for their positions in the money-troubled household.

Compounding these varied motives are tangled love affairs, reckless spending and the complications that come with filial duty. As the characters attempt to avert, ignore or broker the imminent sale of the orchard, each sees a change in their own fortunes—sometimes for the better, but often for the worse.

While written in the early 1900’s, THE CHERRY ORCHARD addresses topics recognizable in, and relevant to, today’s communities: the vast disparity between the wealthy and the poor, the intellectualization of society’s ills in order to avoid taking action and the hold that the past often has on the present.

Director Lura Dolas, a thirty year veteran of the stage, is interested in exploring and discovering how the recognizably flawed characters move through difficult transitions. “It’s a play about love and hope, fear and denial,” Dolas says, “as well as  giving up treasured beliefs and ways of life, and looking to the future–rushing headlong into it.” Dolas first discovered THE CHERRY ORCHARD years ago when she was a student at UC Berkeley herself, majoring in dramatic art. She recalls,“I was moved by the play’s depiction of the inevitability of time and the ironic and gentle way Chekhov presents the everyday interactions that define our lives and pave the path to the future.”

Now, Dolas is sharing her artistic vision with a new crop of UC Berkeley students. “I’ve worked at UC Berkeley for decades,” she says, “and yet I am still surprised by how talented and dedicated and intelligent our students are.” She is excited to bring THE CHERRY ORCHARD to life—“approached with respect and awe and a sense of fun”—with the talented cast, which includes: Eddie Benzoni, Lily Berger, Beth Connors, Christina Cook, Isabel Cruz, Emon Elboudwarej, Roger Kuo, James Lewis, Julian Marenco, Alexander Matos, Diane McKallip, Dela Meskienyar, Ely Orquiza, Armand Parajon, Isaac Ramsey, Tori Schniedewind, Alex Scoolis, Sumire Shimojo, Jessica Slaght, Alyssa So and Mary Zhou.

The production features direction by Lura Dolas, scenic design by Annie Smart, costume design by B Modern, lighting design by Jack Carpenter and sound design and music composition by Chris Houston.

About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Lura Dolas
Lura Dolas’s acting credits include work with CalShakes, the Aurora Theater of Berkeley, the Oregon, San Francisco, and Santa Fe Shakespeare Festivals, The Empty Space Theater of Seattle, Sacramento Theater Company, Theater Emory of Atlanta, the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, and the Ensemble Theater Company of Santa Barbara.  Her most recent credits include Queen Atossa in THE PERSIANS at the Aurora for which she received a San Francisco Critic’s Circle Award Nomination and a one-woman show based on the life of Carlotta Monterey O’Neill, produced by the O’Neill Foundation.  She has taught and directed student productions at the Boston University Theater Institute, the American Conservatory Theater, CalShakes (where she was founding director of the CalShakes Conservatory), Berkeley Repertory Theater, Mills College and the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. Her TDPS directing credits include The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Cradle Will Rock, for which she was awarded a Consortium for the Arts grant. Dolas is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies and holds an MA from Antioch International in conjunction with the London Drama Studio and the American Conservatory Theatre.