‘Chekhov Shorts’ are always good for a laugh
Ginger Leopoldo plays the part of "Luka" in "The Bear," one of the three "Chekhov Shorts" presented by the Old World Theatre Company at the Congregation Kol Emeth in Skokie. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
‘Chekhov Shorts: An Evening
of Comedic One Acts’
Old World Theatre Company, Congregation Kol Emeth, 5130 Touhy, Skokie
8 p.m. Saturdays, Nov. 3, 10, 17; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 4, 11, 18
$22; $10, students; $18, synagogue members; $80 season tickets (4 plays). Tickets at the door or call (312) 857-8487.
Updated: October 31, 2012 1:40PM
Laughs don’t always stand the test of time.
But the Old World Theatre Company will rely on a master of laughable moments as it presents “Chekhov Shorts: An Evening of Comedic One Acts” at Skokie’s Congregation Kol Emeth weekends, Nov3-18. through Nov.
“For the audience, they’re going to recognize these situations very quickly, even though these plays were written almost 120 years ago,” said Bill Raffeld of Chicago, the company’s artistic director. “There are a lot of wonderful comic devices in the play, a lot of mistaken identity, a lot of things in the play that will make the audience feel like they understand. These plays speak to today, but in a very funny way.”
Performing comedies, serious plays, farces and more, the troupe’s experienced actors have all studied at University of Illinois at Chicago at some point whether it has been in more recent years or in past decades.
Their mission is to concentrate on the script, the text, the characters, Raffeld said, so they work in a minimalist style.
“We do plays that are substantial, that are what I would call well-written plays from the classical standards, modern standards, so we’re always working with first rate scripts,” he said.
This particular program focuses on Chekov’s early works that still resonate today, and Raffeld is confident audiences will be taken by their wonderful plots and characters.
The production consists of three one-act farces: “The Bear,” “The Marriage Proposal” and “The Dangers of Tobacco.” Eight actors make up the cast in total, but each play has two or three actors on stage at a time.
Chicago’s Ginger Leopoldo plays the part of an 80-year-old maid in “The Bear.” She says that performing a classic piece — and a Chekhov work at that — is refreshing and thrilling because her more recent experience has included newer works, improv and sketches.
“To be able to have the opportunity to revisit something that’s highly acclaimed, has a real strong message that’s pertinent to today is really exciting,” she said. “I’m very honored and feel very privileged to have gotten cast and to be part of this.”
Leopoldo says performing this character is fun, exciting and challenging all at once. Developing the character through discovery and creating a rhythm with the other characters on stage is the heart of good theater.
“The beauty of live theater is also when you’re in front of a live audience, you have the opportunity to make further discoveries,” she explained. “So it’s just nice to be present and have this opportunity to just be alive in the scene and portraying the characters as they’re written, but also to be discovering what it means to have the message told.”