Hope College Theatre will present "The Nina Variations" on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6, and Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 10-13, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center studio theatre.
"The Nina Variations," written by Steven Dietz, explores the final scene of one of Anton Chekhov's most respected Russian plays. "Having been approached several years ago about writing a new adaptation of 'The Sea Gull,' I immersed myself in the play. And what I found surprised me: I could not get the final scene between Treplev and Nina out of my mind. In fact, I could not focus on the rest of the play at all," Dietz writes in his author's note.
The production, directed by Hope professor Daina Robins, is divided into 43 different variations of the final scene from the varying perspectives of ill-fated lovers. Treplev, a troubled writer, loves Nina, a young actress. They have known each other since childhood. Their adolescence tempted love, but when Trigorin, a well-known author entered the scene, Nina fell head over heels and ran away from Treplev's love. The production starts where their separate lives connect after two years have passed. Jaded by her failed relationship with Trigorin and unsuccessful acting career, Nina has returned to Treplev. Both Treplev and Nina try to recapture the love of their youth, but it eludes them both.
"It is the eternal dialogue between men and women, lovers and the loved," Robins said. "Many times two people are not at the same place at the same time. It is the eternal misunderstanding of desire, expectation, fantasy, dreams: all things not based in reality. The production asks: how do we find love in life? So often we make so many mistakes in that search."
Although the play was originally written for two actors, Robins cast the show with six students in an effort to support the great interest shown by student actors. "There are multiple ways to perform this production," she says. "The Theatre Department is dedicated to creating the strongest experience for the students."
In addition to Robins, other faculty members on the design team include: Richard Smith, scenic and properties designer; Michelle Bombe, costume designer; Perry Landes, lighting and sound designer; and staff member Paul Anderson, technical director.
Student members of the production team include: junior Pat Feder of Grand Rapids, assistant master electrician; sophomore Jeri Fredrickson of Wheaton, Ill., stage manager; sophomore Elizabeth Ogle of Holland, assistant stage manager; sophomore Candice Tindell of Grayslake, Ill., assistant stage manager; junior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland, assistant properties designer; and junior Laura Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa, master electrician.
Cast members include: senior Katherine Bramley of Northbrook, Ill., as Nina; sophomore Isaac Bush of Muskegon as Treplev; sophomore Alex Martin of Holland as Treplev; junior Naomi Pointer of Manistee as Nina; senior Jon Sprik of Grand Rapids as Treplev; and senior Whitney Thomas of Granville, Ohio, as Nina.
Tickets for "The Nina Variations" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available in the ticket office inside the east entrance of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m. The ticket office may be called at (616) 395-7890.
The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave. between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.