Mountain Community Theater Presents: The Cherry Orchard

By Julie Horner with David Leach, Dave Halper, and Tom Goldrup

Mountain Community Theater masterfully exposes the folly of human inaction in their production of Anton Chekhov’s final masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard, opening Friday, November 22 at Park Hall in Ben Lomond and running weekends through December 15. Directed by Bill Peters, a renowned professor at San Francisco State known for his Shakespearean genius, this is “a work of art that embraces the whole variety of life.”

Chekhov, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history, wrote The Cherry Orchard in 1903. The play opened at the Moscow Art Theatre in January 1904 in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski, who is credited for evolving the naturalistic performance technique known as method acting. In method acting, actors deliver sincere and emotionally expressive performances that fully identify with the character they are portraying.

The story unfolds in the Crimea region of Ukraine. 

“The Cherry Orchard is a comedic drama about a Russian family, landed gentry, basically the idle rich, but they are falling on hard times and their estate is for sale.” The estate includes a magnificent cherry orchard, famously beautiful, which also now must be sacrificed due to the family’s inextricable debt. “The culture has changed, the children got caught up in not knowing how to make a living, the free labor was gone,” says Dave Halper, who plays the role of Yepikhodov, the estate clerk. 

“It’s happening to all of us. The play is very down to earth, there’s no grandiosity in any of it. If you don’t pay the mortgage, the estate is going to be sold. The characters are very human, very relatable. You’ll see people you know in these characters. Not because they’re a buffoon or a thug or a character out of the norm. It’s your brother, your neighbor. You’ll recognize yourself in the characters,” says Halper.

Goldrup

Tom Goldrup and Jim Goldrup in “The Cherry Orchard”

David Leach, who plays the role of Leonid Andreieveitch Gayev, an eccentric family member who embodies the aristocracy’s decadent life of leisure says The Cherry Orchard seems like classic tragedy but it was written as comedy. “Chekhov wrote these pieces as a slice of life. He lets it unfold before you, you get to know the characters. He’s exposing humanity at its most real,” says Leach. “And we’re fortunate to be working with a director who sees it as it was written, as comedy.” 

Tom Goldrup, who plays A Stranger, a passer-by who encounters the Gayevs as they laze around on their estate, has been to Ukraine three times. “Going to the Ukraine, I fell in love with the people and the place.” Tom has been with Mountain Community Theater since 1983, the year after they opened. This is his 19th play. “I’ve worked with everyone before, like a family together, it’s a great cast…Bill has a great crew.”

“Our director, Bill Peters, when the audience comes in, they’ll feel like they’re coming into a family, a real theater experience,” says Halper. “He also has this ability to bring out the human in the actor. As an actor, we have a natural tendency to project, be bombastic, be a little louder. Bill has a way of bringing it down to a conversational level. I’ve worked with him three times now. He’s got the ability to bring me down to a place I’d never thought of going as an actor.”

FIVEapprov

Left to Right: Rick Kuhn, Sarah Albertson, Aki’o Nanamura in “The Cherry Orchard”

“Bill takes the time to explore the motives, the moments as they occur between people, that give texture and life, that make the whole production glow. There’s so much that is unwritten that Bill brings to the surface. Why did Chekhov say that twice? Why did he repeat it over here? Bill explores the depth of the process, fleshes it out,” says Leach.

Goldrup agrees: “I’ll second that, make that unanimous…we all wanted to audition. We all worked together doing Julius Caesar. He’s a great director to work with, a great human being. Bill would say, ‘Why don’t you try it this way, speak to me.’ It’s what you look for, that kind of understanding of the author and a subject. To have that opportunity to explore Chekhov under Bill’s directorship was not to be missed.”

image

Tom Goldrup as “A Stranger” in “The Cherry Orchard”

Chekhov studied Shakespeare closely, and his works are intertwined with Shakespearean motifs. David Leach explained, “They’re both brilliant writers, but Shakespeare repeats his words – it’s finely crafted – he was exploring the beauty of the language.” Chekhov comes at it a different way. “He’s exploring the opportunity of life, exploring the beauty of the human experience. A completely different angle and just as completely amazing.”

“It’s very funny – it’s like life, like life ought to be – full of fun even if it is full of errors as well.” – David Leach

Halper, who has been with MCT for five years, invites everyone to experience The Cherry Orchard. There’s a little music, a little dancing, but mostly it’s about human interaction. “Come see the show, you’ll enjoy it.” 

He also encourages anyone with an inkling to become involved in the theater. “MCT is open to everyone, it’s a very friendly and supportive group. If somebody is curious about being involved in theater, come be on stage crew, do technical stuff, walk into an audition. If you want to be part of the fun, you don’t have to be on stage. You’re not committing to anything you don’t want to commit to. This is an opportunity to be part of the community experience.”

The Cherry Orchard opens Friday November 22nd and runs four weekends through Sunday December 15th at Ben Lomond’s historic Park Hall, 9400 Mill Street. 

Friday and Saturday performances: 8 p.m. | Sunday matinees: 2:00 p.m.
Community Night: Saturday, November 30, all tickets are two for $20.
Post-show champagne reception on opening night Friday, November 22nd.
Talk-backs with the cast and director after the performances on Sunday, November 24 and Saturday, November 30. 

General tickets are $20; Senior and Student tickets are $17.
Tickets from Brown Paper Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3617997
Mountain Community Theater: https://mctshows.org

“The Russians adore their past, hate the present, and fear the future.  How sad it would be if we forgot that the future we fear turns slowly into the present we detest, and the past that we adore.” – Anton Chekhov

GROUPapprov

Left to Right: Sarah Albertson, Aki’o Nanamura, Tom Goldrup, Jim Goldrup, Dave Halper, Scott Kravitz, and David Leach in MCT’s “The Cherry Orchard”

The Cherry Orchard Cast: Sarah Albertson, Jocelyn McMahon-Babalis, Nat Robinson, Scott Kravitz, Helene Simkin Jara, Sequoia Jones, Jim Goldrup, David Leach, Rick Kuhn, Alie Mac, Aki’o Nanamura, Dave Halper, and Tom Goldrup.

julie_crop

Julie Horner

© 2019 Julie Horner – Mountain Community Theater Presents: The Cherry Orchard – November 22 through December 15, 2019.

Santa Cruz Mountains Local
https://santacruzmountainslocal.com

San Lorenzo Valley Post
https://www.facebook.com/santacruzmountainnews

 

 

With Clenched Fists – An Anniversary Celebrating Redoubled Effort

By Julie Horner
Steady rain paints the first days of 2017 in somber tones. Incensed and with clenched fists I am unable to act while a single individual undermines an entire community for their own sense of entitlement. In this new year when we should be pulling together as one unified voice, a crucial platform for that voice has been taken away by someone who has decided they no longer wish to participate. But what they take with them is not theirs to take. It belongs to the community for which it was created. The moral, professional, and civil choice when you no longer want to perform a task for someone is to move on…leaving the tools that were entrusted behind for those who DO wish to continue to participate.
Nearly two years ago the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin webmistress and head reporter, Rachel Wooster, stole the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin’s website and locked us out of much of our online presence. None of us knew she had done this until she disappeared suddenly in November 2016 claiming ‘family trouble’ and left us scrambling to gather content for December’s print deadline. By the end of the month heading into January 2017 we badly needed to update the website, now two months behind. We realized then that she had changed the password, and our emails asking her to please relinquish the credentials went unanswered. When the paper’s publisher and owner of the website called the web hosting company to get the password reset so that we could continue to maintain the website, the customer service person told her that she had been removed as owner of her own website back in October 2016 and that ownership of the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin website was now in the webmistress’s name.
Even now, nearly two years later, the shock of that discovery, of having our website taken out from under us by someone we trusted and liked still makes my face hot with disbelief. That anyone would even consider doing such a thing to someone, to a team of dedicated contributors – all volunteers- or to a community full of good people, boggles my mind and saddens my soul.
One by one we discovered that our social media accounts were also inaccessible. Next Door, Twitter, Google+, our blog and email blasts. We managed to preempt her from taking our Facebook page by quickly removing her as Admin and blocking her as soon as we found out how sweeping the deception had been.
When the webmistress did finally resurface a few weeks later, she attempted to hold the website ransom – she said in an email that she would relinquish control if the publisher, the rightful owner, handed the webmistress a rather large sum of money. We decided to turn the other cheek and start anew rather than buckle to extortion. That is why our website now ends in dot-net rather than dot-com.
It is no easy task rebuilding a website from scratch – or earning followers – it can take years to build a user-base. A company’s website is a critical tool to draw traffic to your brand, to share information, and to satisfy stakeholders. Those who bought ads trusted that they were getting their money’s worth by having their ad displayed on our web page as promised. And there were those who counted on being able to find information or read about local news or explore Santa Cruz Mountains lifestyle as only the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin could present it; years of contributed writing and local history was lost; hers and ours. The loss of our website was a low blow to the community as well as a slap in the face to the entire contributing team.
We never came out with this information publicly at the time. We warned a few locals by word of mouth to be wary of doing business with our former webmistress, and we shared our frustrations with friends and neighbors but never pursued legal action. Apparently she had wrought similar havoc with another local online news purveyor, Boulder Creek Insider, before she came to the Bulletin, and she has recently brought trouble to Boulder Creek  Parks and Recreation District and KBCZ community radio.
Cyber crime is murky business and we’re a small, independently run limited liability endeavor without corporate backing or slick salespeople to keep funds rolling in. The bottom line must always be ‘cover your ass’ when allowing others to access your accounts. As 2018 draws to a close we accept that what was done is done, and the neighbors and town folk behind the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin continue to bring unique perspective to local stories of interest. We celebrate an enormously vibrant year or two gone by and now plunge enthusiastically into our 7th publishing year with lessons learned and renewed energy to be “the valley’s voice.”
Thank you so very much for your support. – Julie Horner, Managing Editor
On the Web (a work in progress): www.santacruzmountainbulletin.net