Earlier this fall, the Hunter Theater Project launched its first professional production on the Hunter campus with an acclaimed new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” The show opened with previews on September 7, 2018 and was extended twice due to popular demand, closing on November 18. This wildly successful production proves an auspicious beginning for the Project, an endeavor spearheaded by Gregory Mosher, the first Jay and Patty Baker Chair of the Theatre Department at Hunter College. Professor Mosher aims to connect exceptionally gifted, professional theater artists with willing audiences, sidestepping traditional subscription and membership models, and making pricing accessible to all.
For the Project’s inaugural production, Mosher chose a new look at a classic: an intermissionless, intimate staging of a new translation of Chekhov’s seminal drama “Uncle Vanya.” This production, characterized by simplicity and unadorned naturalism, was greeted by rave reviews and sold-out houses. Directed by acclaimed playwright Richard Nelson, the show marked the worldwide debut of a new translation by Nelson in collaboration with famed Russian translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. While the husband-and-wife translator team is known for their translations of Russian classic texts, the translator team had never before tackled Chekhov—nor any piece of dramatic literature—before Nelson approached them.
The resulting text was first staged at the Old Globe in San Diego, with Hunter Theater Project hosting its New York debut in the Frederick Loewe Theatre to rapturous critical response:
Jennifer Vanasco of WNYC: “Nelson has a gift for portraying sharply observed families, capturing the affection and tension that arise in everyday interactions...The exquisite translation...strips the language to its essence. It's clear and illuminating.”
Peter Marks of the Washington Post: “By distilling the text to a seemingly fresh variety of conversational truthfulness...A heart-piercing production as sublime as I’ve ever seen Chekhov performed.”
Ben Brantley of the New York Times: “It’s clearer, truer, and more comprehensible than it’s ever been before...I’m still shivery, teary-eyed, and stunned from seeing Richard Nelson’s devastatingly intimate production.”
David Cote of New York Theater News: “This was the first Vanya that brought me to tears and made me laugh in places I never had before…When we watch real, unscripted life (or an artful approximation of it), humor and heartbreak can switch places in the blink of an eye…Bravo to producer Gregory Mosher and his team for inaugurating a new model of theatergoing at Hunter College with this achingly sensitive revival.”
Hunter College is proud to contribute to New York City’s vibrant theatre scene, and to bring our students and community into close contact with these theater-makers. Hosting productions like these is just one way that the Project achieves Professor Mosher’s vision of connecting top theater professionals with young students just getting their start in the field, so they can get real-world exposure as they hone their talents and build their careers.