By Nicole Schmidt
In anticipation for the drawing of the curtain, cast and crew members of Ryerson’s theatre school fall production prepare themselves for opening night.
Written by Maxim Gorky and directed by Dean Gilmour, this year’s play, Summerfolk, deals with the social change that the Russian middle-class witnessed prior to the Russian revolution.
The play tells the characters’ emotional journey as they endure arguments, excessive alcohol consumption and doubt the value of life.
The main character Varya, played by fourth-year theatre student Elysia White, is the lady of the house, who lives in the midst of the day-to-day drama. Varvara was pressured into getting a good education so she could marry someone respectable. Although she does this, she is unhappy with her decision.
“Through the entire play [Varvara] is struggling with this longing to live a valuable life,” says White of her character. “It’s her journey trying to break free from all the monotony of her trivial existence.”
Fourth-year theatre student Chris Whidden plays one of the male leads, a character by the name of Shalimov. Shalimov is a famous Russian writer that has lost himself and doesn’t understand the changes happening in society.
“Even in the face of some moments when the worst things are going on, [Shalimov] still sits back and goes ‘I could write a great story about this,’” says Whidden, “[Writing] is his passion and it consumes him.”
Whidden and White began memorizing lines in the summer, right after they received their scripts. Aside from rehearsals, they’ve also been attending character-preparation and movement classes.
But the main actors aren’t the only ones who have been working hard. There has been a lot of time and effort put into this show, according to Negin Nasirpour, the production manager.
“It’s so fast-paced, the ball’s always rolling,” says Nasirpour.
Nasirpour spends four days a week in her office working eight hours a day on the show. She says others are there every day for at least five hours.
Summerfolk will play at the Ryerson theatre, located at 43 Gerrard St. E., from Oct. 26-Nov. 2. Tickets are on sale at the box office at $14 for students.