UPDATED: High School Drama Club to Present Russian Comedy

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally ran this article on January 31… and then learned that the date for opening night had been changed from Friday, February 9 to Saturday, February 10. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The Pagosa Springs High School Drama Club’s production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Marriage Proposal” — February 10, 16 and 17 — takes the stage in a refreshingly new way.

“Often we try to get as many kids involved as we can, and we aim for larger, more visually oriented productions,” says Sean Downing, director and drama coach for the high school. “Every few years though, I try to get a classic piece on stage, just for the lessons young actors can learn from the masters.”

This year’s classic piece is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s romantic comedy, “The Marriage Proposal,” a one-act play filled with the irony and satire of love. “The basic plot line is simple, as are all Chekhov’s plays, and those simple plot lines, simple sets, simple stories, really gave Chekhov the opportunity to explore the hilarious complexities of falling in love — in any culture, at any time,” Downing explains.

The one act features only three roles, filled by Adrian Roque (Senior), Skylar King (Sophomore), and Roland Sanchez (Senior).

The hilarious… er… resolution. Left to right, Skylar King, Sophomore; Adrien Roque, Senior; Roland Sanchez, Senior.

“Staging only three students in a production like this is risky,” Mr. Downing says, “because often the only people who come see the play are the kids’ parents, and that gives me about six people in the audience. But I really wanted to give a few kids the opportunity to get into the roles, push themselves to let the process, not the product, be the point of the play.”

“These three have really explored the process of finding character (which is harder than it looks), dealing with comedy based on reality (which is harder than it looks) and balancing their crazy lives while pursuing three demanding roles (which is harder than it looks). They have put together a play that balances satire with the serious, and in many places in the performance, they surprise me with some new discovery every night.”

Chekhov wrote “The Marriage Proposal” in 1888, and it was first performed around 1890. The original play is intended to take place in a parlor or sitting room in an aristocratic Russia.

“But, the beauty of any classical piece,” Downing suggests, “is that you can perform it in any cultural or economic setting. So we set it in contemporary culture. What’s amazing is how little the human race changes across time and across cultures.”

Performances take place in the Terry Alley Auditorium at the high school on Saturday, February 10; Friday, February 16; and Saturday, February 17. “All three nights handily scheduled around Valentine’s Day, for those of you looking for the perfect date night,” Downing adds. Doors open at 6:30pm; curtain is at 7pm. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for the public and are available at the door.

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