McCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ)

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    Three actors on stage

The McCarter Theatre’s performance of Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya, starring Natacha Roi and Steven Skybell in the foreground, Amanda Plummer in the background, was supported by the NEA. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey is a Tony Award-winning performing arts center that presents theater, music, and dance performances to annual audiences of more than 200,000. In addition to presenting canonical works such as William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Edward Albee’s All Over, it also produces world premieres of innovative modern works such as Regina Taylor’s Crowns and Athol Fugard’s Sorrows and Rejoicings.

In FY 2003, the theater received an NEA Creativity grant of $50,000 to support a new version of the Anton Chekhov classic Uncle Vanya. The production was adapted and directed by artistic director Emily Mann, who previously produced Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Three Sisters for McCarter. She worked closely with Ellen Chances, a member of Princeton University’s Slavic Department, to interpret as closely as possible the meaning of the original text. The play featured performances by Bill Caleo, Georgine Hall, Jonathan Hogan, Steven Skybell, and Amanda Plummer. The play was performed from April 29 to May 18, 2003, then traveled to the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California.

Twenty-two performances were given, including a student matinee, which was accompanied by pre- and post-performance discussions and teacher study guides. In addition, the production was supplemented by two programs: Dialogues on Drama, where Skybell and Chances spoke to audience members about the creation of the play, and Talk-Backs, which provide an opportunity to meet and talk with the cast, crew, and designers of the performance. More than 14,000 people attended the performances at the McCarter Theatre.

 

Amanda Plummer and Steven Skybell in the McCarter Theatre’s performance of Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)