Marjorie Lyons Playhouse at Centenary presents "The Nina Variations" February 14-17
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary’s Department of Theatre brings an innovative take on a dramatic classic to the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse stage this month with a production of Steven Dietz’s The Nina Variations. Dietz’s 2003 play is a tribute to Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, offering 43 funny, fierce, and heartbreaking variations on the famous final scene between Chekhov’s star-crossed young lovers, the actress Nina and the writer Treplev.
Centenary’s production of The Nina Variations opens Thursday, February 14 and runs through Sunday, February 17. The run includes 7:30 p.m. performances February 14 through 16 and a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, February 17. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for military/senior, and $5 for students with ID. Centenary students, faculty, and staff are admitted free with a valid Centenary ID.
“In Dietz’s latest edition of this play, he suggests using a larger cast, where there are perhaps several different actors playing Nina and the same for Treplev,” explains assistant professor of theater Logan Sledge, who is directing the MLP production. “We have done just that, using nine actors to play the two characters in different variations. During the process we have discovered an interesting tension: embracing the formlessness of the play while attempting to create the specific form needed for the actors to perform it, to create a reality of sorts in which to inhabit.”
Sledge’s unique approach to casting the play has presented the actors with new challenges and unexpected opportunities for growth.
“The most rewarding aspect of working on The Nina Variations has been watching my castmates make their choices for the different variations of their character, and the most challenging has been to find what kind of Treplev I am,” shares Eliezer Williams, a sophomore from Shreveport. “I think the audience will be intrigued by the fact that all the Ninas and the Treplevs are very aware of each other.”
Sophomore Harrison Starrett, a native of Bossier City, says that working as part of the ensemble cast has challenged him to think differently and more critically, making him a stronger actor.
“The writing is allusive, imaginative, subtextual, and brutally direct throughout the play, guiding the two characters through a roller coaster of emotions and discoveries,” says Starrett. “I have really grown in my ability to focus on my wants, desires, and fears as a way to focus and guide myself through intense scenes.”
The cast predicts that MLP audiences will relate to The Nina Variations in unique ways. Senior Bailey White, from Shreveport, is trading her usual position as stage manager for an acting role as one of several “Ninas.” She thinks that the audience will perhaps forget that there are only two characters in the play, because the same characters will be played so differently by each actor.
Elizabeth Beagley, a sophomore from Benton, Louisiana, and another “Nina,” agrees that the play will challenge the audience in a creative and positive way.
“The show doesn’t follow a linear story,” explains Beagley. “The audience is going to have to get used to seeing each scene not only individually but also thinking about how the scenes work as a whole.”
With this innovative take on The Nina Variations, director Logan Sledge successfully challenges his cast and crew while raising thought-provoking ideas and questions for the audience.
“A great debate in this play between Nina and Treplev is all about whether we need new forms in art and how we should go about finding them,” says Sledge. “Working on this production and exploring the idea that one moment contains many moments has been challenging and incredibly rewarding for our cast and production team.”
Tickets for The Nina Variations at MLP are available online at centenary.edu/mlptickets.