Melbourne theatre enthusiasts are in for a treat as the highly anticipated Australian premiere of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” takes the stage. Translated by Richard Nelson, Richard Pevear, and Larissa Volokhonsky, the production has already garnered rave reviews in America. The play, known for its exploration of mortality and the human condition, holds particular significance as Chekhov wrote it while battling tuberculosis, which ultimately claimed his life at the young age of 44.
Presented by the Anthropocene Play Company (APC), this rendition of “Uncle Vanya” promises to bring Chekhov’s vision to life using the company’s trademark Method Acting approach. Audiences will have a rare opportunity to witness human behaviour unfold on stage, as intended by both Chekhov and renowned acting teacher Constantin Stanislavsky. The production will feature period costumes and a minimalist set, focusing the spotlight on the story and the interactions between characters, creating a sense of scenes unfolding in a void. Additionally, there is speculation that the cast will remain on stage throughout the entire show, adding a unique layer of immersion for the audience.
What sets this production apart is the lineage connecting it to Constantin Stanislavsky himself. Bronwen Coleman, the director of “Uncle Vanya,” had the privilege of learning from one of Stanislavsky’s students, Sam Schacht, whose teacher was Stella Adler, herself a student of Stanislavsky. This direct link to the origins of Stanislavsky’s approach adds a truly special element to the Melbourne audience’s experience.
In a bold casting choice, the character of Astrov will be portrayed by a woman, Cat Morvell. Director Bronwen Coleman explains her decision, saying, “I combed the text, thinking about the way a female Astrov would resonate throughout, and it weirdly felt right. Cat Morvell, who will play the role, has a thoughtful, sexy energy just right for Astrov.”
The production of “Uncle Vanya” also holds educational significance, as it is part of the 2023 VCAA VCE Literature List. For many Victorian teenagers, this will be their first exposure to Chekhov’s renowned work, making it a pivotal moment in their literary journey.
Capturing the essence of the play, the season’s stunning promotional images were captured by Greg Elms at Harewood, a heritage mansion in Koo Wee Rup. The visuals evoke the mood and ambience that audiences can expect from this compelling production.
Award-winning director Bronwen Coleman, a life member of the Actors Studio in New York, brings her vast experience to the helm. Having worked alongside esteemed actors such as Phil Hoffman, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and Julia Roberts, Coleman’s expertise ensures a captivating and unforgettable performance. Additionally, Coleman’s neurodivergent perspective adds a unique dimension to her artistic practice, enriching the production’s creativity and depth.
Recognized for her directing prowess, Coleman has received several accolades, including Best Theatre Fringeworld (2022), the Frank Ford Award (2021), Critics Prize Adelaide Fringe (2021 and 2022), and the Mindshare Mental Health Awareness Award (2022).
The Anthropocene Play Company, a feminist company co-founded by Pia O’Meadhra, Clare Larman, and Bronwen Coleman, is thrilled to present this season of “Uncle Vanya.” Alongside the company ensemble, guest actors Dion Mills (Vanya), Callum Mackay (Telegin), and Thilan Ahangama (the 2023 APC Emerging Artist) will grace the stage, adding their exceptional talents