(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev, with a world premiere translation by Richard Nelson, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, brings down the curtain on the Main Stage season at Williamstown Theatre Festival, with a production running from Wednesday, August 1, 2012, through August 19, 2012. The play is being given an experimental staging, with a thrust stage built out into the first four rows of the audience.
Translator Richard Nelson also directs the play, the cast of which includes Parker Bell-Devaney as Kolya, Charlotte Bydwell (WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Vera Alexandrovna, Louis Cancelmi (WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Arkady Sergeich Islaev, Julian Cihi (WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Alexei Nikolaevich Belyaev, Jessica Collins (Broadway’s Les Liasons Dangereuses) as Natalya Petrovna, Sean Cullen (South Pacific, WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Ignaty Ilyich Shpigelsky, Harry Ford as Matvei, Kate Kearney-Patch (As It Is In Heaven) as Anna Semyonovna Islaeva, Paul Anthony McGrane (WTF’s The Importance of Being Earnest) as Afanasy Ivanovich Bolshintsov, Jeremy Strong (CBS’s “The Good Wife,” former WTF Non-Equity Company) as Mikhail Alexandrych Rakitin, and Elizabeth Waterson (Classic Stage Company’s The Cherry Orchard, former WTF Non-Equity Company) as Lizaveta Bogdanovna.
“This is an exceptional production for us on so many levels” said Jenny Gersten on the first day of rehearsals. “This translation is momentous as it marks the first foray into dramatic writing by the renowned Pevears. They have chosen to collaborate with the incomparable Richard Nelson, who has been a WTF playwright and director over five decades. And their work together is a revelation, and as such, it is being produced in revelatory fashion. We are completely re-inventing the way we produce in the Main Stage for A Month in the Country.”
Gersten further explained that the first four rows of the Main Stage will be removed in order to bring the playing space out into the middle of the auditorium, and dozens of microphones will be positioned above the stage, in order to create a far more naturalistic relationship between the audience and the performers.
Director Richard Nelson added, “This is an extraordinarily intimate play; the audience should feel they are in the same room as the characters, breathing the same air, almost as if they’ve been allowed into the characters’ minds. So we’re building our stage out into the audience, and using a sound design that will allow intimate conversations to be overheard, and intimate scenes to be experienced as if peered through a window, or a keyhole.”
Settled into a life of sylvan contentment, 29-year-old Natalya (Collins) falls under the influence of a force she has never known before: desire. Without warning, her simple, predictable world is irrevocably changed and she is torn between moral responsibility and uncontrollable passion. Both psychologically compelling and emotionally raw, this production heightens the Festival’s tradition of beautifully acted works of Russian drama with innovations in scenic and sound design to create a one-of-a-kind, intimate experience unlike anything previously presented on the WTF Main Stage.
This revelatory new translation of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country marks the first collaboration between playwright Richard Nelson and Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the foremost contemporary translators of classic Russian literature including the best-selling Oprah’s Book Club selection, Anna Karenina.
The creative team includes Takeshi Kata (Scenic Design), Susan Hilferty (Costume Design), Japhy Weidman (Lighting Design), and Drew Levy (Sound Design). Eileen Ryan Kelly is the Production Stage Manager.