Sarah Yanagita, a senior studying theater performance, got her start in acting doing children’s community theater. She enjoyed it but didn’t feel like it was something she could actually do until she auditioned for the spring play at her school.
“The theatre teacher took me out of the audition room, ran me to the counselor’s office and had me change my electives,” Yanagita said. “She inspired me and made me feel like I had a lot of talent for this.”
Yanagita plays Varya in this semester’s production of The Cherry Orchard. Varya, Yanagita explained, is an interesting character. She is the adopted daughter of an aristocratic family, so she doesn’t fit into the higher or middle class. The character has insecurities about this and just wants to feel like she has a place.
The struggle her character faces embodies one of the central themes in the show. It explores the struggle between the lower and higher classes and the newly emerging middle class in Russia at the rise of the 20th century.
Joshua Sevy, a BYU-Idaho alumni who majored in theater studies, plays the role of the eccentric aristocrat Leonid Andreieveitch Gayev. Sevy describes him as a dimwitted old man who drinks and talks too much. He is one of the more comedic parts of the show.
To prepare for the role, Sevy kept a journal, writing down thoughts about the character or techniques he could use to play the character. He asked himself questions about how an aristocrat might act to others and even how he would walk. He said that the costuming also helps him get into character.
Yanagita’s biggest take away from the show is the importance of agency.
“It’s necessary it is for us to use it to be happy,” Yanagita said. “The tragedy in the show comes from people who are not willing to act, who are just waiting to be acted upon.”
Sevy is excited for those coming to see the show, saying it will be a great experience.
“This is an older play, but old plays still have very important messages,” he said. “It’s a unique stage type and an assortment of actors, and you’re not gonna see anything like it ever again. It will be cool for sure.”
Due to the cancellation of school gatherings and events, there will be no public showings for the Cherry Orchard.
Instead, the theatre department had decided to record the show live and put a link on their webpage. For more updates about the show and when it will be available go to the theater department’s Facebook group.