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Linfield theatre presents Chekhov’s comic shorts

The Bear, Linfield TheatreThe Linfield College theatre will present Anton Chekhov’s comic shorts including “The Proposal,” translated by George Malko, and “The Bear,” adapted by Brian Friel. Chekhov pokes fun at love, marriage and the battle of the sexes for audience members in his two satires.

The production will be performed Sept. 21- 24 at 7:30 p.m., at the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield.

“The Proposal” tells the story of Ivan Vassiliyitch Lomov, a man whose marriage proposal cannot be accepted until he settles a dispute of land ownership. Lomov must prove himself in a battle of the sexes before he can propose marriage to his neighbor’s daughter, Natalia.

In “The Bear,” Chekhov explores the fine line between love and necessity in Russia during the late 1800s. Chekhov tells the story of Smirnov, a man who must collect a debt from Popova, owed to him by her deceased husband. Popova defends her scoundrel husband and enrages Smirnov to the point of attraction.

Guest-director Jan Powell will lead the production, which features first-year students Tim Singer of Lake Oswego, Jeremy Odden of Seattle, Wash., and Nicholas Granato of Damascus, as well as veterans to the Linfield stage, senior Kanon Havens of Japan, junior Chris Forrer of Gresham and sophomore Jenny Layton of Corbett. The performers are supported by stage manager Bailey Maxwell, a senior from The Dalles; scenic and lighting designer Tyrone Marshall; costume designer Alethia Moore-Del Monaco; and sound designer Robert Vaughn.

Powell compared all the translations she could find for each play, roughly eight versions of each, and chose the pair for their natural-sounding language and punchy comic timing.

“Sometimes I would say the lines out loud, to test their effect on the ear, because spoken language operates very differently than language that is read, particularly when it comes to humor,” she said. “I’m very pleased with the versions we are using. In each play, Chekhov brings together perhaps the two most unlikely pair of lovers, and toys with how he might bring them together. Wonderfully fun stuff.”

The Linfield cast is working within a brief rehearsal period. With the start of the academic year, students had only three weeks to prepare for opening night.

“Because we have to work so fast, everyone is on their ‘A’ game ̶ remarkably open and willing to fully commit to any direction I give them, and to work efficiently, making every second count,” said Powell. “We laugh a lot in rehearsal; good theatre requires a lot of playfulness in the putting together. But there is also tremendous discipline here. It’s been a very satisfying experience.”

Powell is the founding artistic director at the Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company and continues to direct at colleges and universities across the country. With a principal focus in Shakespeare, Powell has produced and directed most of the canon, including all of Shakespeare’s histories. Powell’s past experience has taken her around the world, from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, to directing “The Taming of the Shrew” for Kingsmen Shakespeare in Los Angeles. Most recently, Powell worked as artistic director of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, where she helped guide their transition into producing.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Sept, 13. Tickets are $9 for full price; $7 for seniors (62+) and Linfield faculty and staff; and $5 for students; with a $2 discount on all tickets on opening night. Seating is reserved. Tickets are available at www.linfield.edu/culture, by phone or at the Marshall Theatre Box Office. Located in the lobby of Ford Hall, the box office is open Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. on performance days. The box office will also be open September 24 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.

The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible. For more information, call 503-883-2292.