Praise the simplicity of rural Russian life at The Pear

UV_5423By Ande Jacobson

Did Anton Chekhov write tragedies? Comedies? Dramas? Dave Sikula has taken a very deep dive into Chekhov’s legacy, writing translations of several of his major works, including The Pear’s current offering, Uncle Vanya. As Sikula noted in a 2013 San Francisco Theater Pub blog post while working on this translation, Chekhov thought his plays were comedies, and he tends to agree with that assessment. Stanislavski, from Chekhov’s time, disagreed and thought his plays were heavy dramas of the darkest order, which is reputed to have driven Chekhov to distraction. So what is Uncle Vanya? Continue reading

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“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”

MGL FamilyBy Ande Jacobson

As she was researching shows for this 13th season, the title Making God Laugh jumped out at Tabard’s executive director, Cathy Spielberger Cassetta. Intrigued, she started corresponding with the playwright, Sean Grennan. As she says in her program notes, she found “merit, wisdom, and folly in it” and decided to add this little yet-to-be-published gem as one of the “Twists” to the season. Grennan describes his play as a “dramedy that takes place in four scenes at a family home, each ten years apart.” First is a Thanksgiving dinner in 1980 and the play continues with one scene per decade until spring of 2010.  Grennan too has a program note and says “all playwrights have to write their Family play.” This is his, and Grennan’s characters are each familiar in some ways. The script is very funny, and he uses several pop-culture references both in musical quotes (e.g., “Jet Song” from West Side Story, “Everything’s Comin’ Up Roses” from Gypsy, Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”) along with some period-specific failures (e.g., AMC’s Pacer, Yugo, Enron) to help hammer home the points he’s making. Continue reading