Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Photo: Photograph by Kristen Curley

*Ania Hawkins is a member of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s marketing team

Three Sisters, by Russian playwright Anton Chekov, is the first production of this spring semester presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance. I had the opportunity to interview the faculty director of the production, Associate Professor John Bellomo, as well as a few cast and production team members. I learned more about the relationship between these women and the process of making this production happen, from before auditions, through rehearsals and getting close to opening night. 

Set in the 1800s, sisters Olga, Masha and Irina are celebrating Irina’s birthday after they have lost their father when conversations turn toward their love lives. The sisters have long wanted to leave their country estate and return to Moscow, but they’re suffering with their inner selves, financial problems and love affairs, wondering if they want to leave their family home behind. 

Emily Harris, a fourth-year student cast as Irina, told me that, “The rehearsal process for ‘Three Sisters’ has been really great so far and we can’t wait for everyone to see it.” When asked what the process has been like for her, Harris said, “I was very excited and ecstatic to be cast as Irina. I looked at Chekov’s other work and started doing character research on what others have written about her and memorizing my lines.” She is also trying to incorporate herself and her personal experiences into Irina’s story as much as she can. 

Nicci Hardaway, a third-year student cast as Olga said, “For me, my process has been doing research on Olga and what Olga is like with her family. Olga is a spinster, the oldest of her siblings, and is a teacher, but I’m the youngest in my family and would like to become a teacher so there are parts of our lives we don’t share and parts that we do.” She also came up with her own questions to understand the relationship between Olga and her siblings. 

Isabella Yackanicz, a third-year transfer student cast as Masha, said she looked to the culture of Russian history for ideas. She also mentioned that she would get her own take on Masha and what Chekov was saying through tablework in rehearsals. When asked if there were similarities between her and Masha, Yackanicz said, “Masha is the middle kid in her family, and I’m also the middle child in my family. She is stuck with certain things and has deep thoughts about her freedom.” Yackanicz uses the interactions that she has with her own siblings and brings that into Masha and her siblings in the process. 

The work to make a theatrical production starts long before the actual auditions. When asked about the process, director John Bellomo said, “I began working on ‘Three Sisters’ during the summer before the semester started.” He told me that he asked his wife, Victoria, to do the translations of the Russian words for this production, and that he and the stage manager would meet to talk about their plans for the production, from design to auditions to rehearsal schedules. 

Giulia Pagano, a third-year student, is the stage manager for ‘Three Sisters.’ She began working on ‘Three Sisters’ towards the end of the fall semester, meeting with Bellomo and the production team. Giulia said that she made sure that she knew the script well. When asked if she could see the process during rehearsals, she said, “I can see human beings start to relate to each other through their characters on stage. I know these students but I’m meeting Olga, Irina and Masha every day.” 

Emily Wiest, a fourth-year student and the assistant director for ‘Three Sisters,’ describes her excitement at starting work on the production: “I knew that I wanted to assistant direct for ‘Three Sisters’ last semester. I knew that John was directing, and I had not been able to work with him on a show yet. I wanted to learn more about directing from him.” When asked what her process has been like, Weist said, “A lot of the process for me was talking with John and pitching ideas where I could. He told me his vision and I was very excited to hear about it.” Emily added that, “It is an awesome experience to watch the rehearsals, after table reads, to now blocking on our set. It’s been a rewarding process to watch.” 

“Three Sisters” will be shown on Feb. 29, March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 2:00 p.m. in the J.P. Adler Theatre in E.O. Bull Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased online at


Ania Hawkins is a second-year Theatre major with a minor in Creative Writing.

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