Non-union auditions for Allens Lane Theater’s May production of LIFE SUCKS: SORT OF ADAPTED FROM “UNCLE VANYA” BY ANTON CHEKHOV, written by Aaron Posner, directed by Robert Bauer.
All COVID-19 safety guidelines will be enforced both in the production and with the audience. Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response will continue to be monitored throughout, in order to ensure the most informed decisions are made regarding everyone’s health. In accordance with the Philadelphia Mandate, actors must be vaccinated to perform in front of a socially distanced, masked, and vaccinated audience. There will be 6 live performances instead of the usual 9. Performance dates are May 13-15 and 20-22.
THE PLOT: Despite the contemporary setting and language, the characters remain much as Chekhov created them. Egos clash, hearts hunger, and souls cry out for meaning in this very funny and rather touching re-imagining of a timeless classic. While the characters know they are performing in a play and sometimes break the fourth wall, they never break character. It’s sort of Chekhov without the birch trees… and with a lot more laughs. Familiarity with the Chekhov original is definitely not a requirement.
THE CHARACTERS: 4 women, 3 men, various ages, any races, or ethnicities. Allens Lane practices non-traditional casting and welcomes all actors from our local theater community. Anyone may to audition for any role.
Vanya (40s-50s) and his niece, Sonia, manage the family estate. Sonia’s widowed father, the Professor, was married to Vanya’s older sister. Vanya is a middle-aged, grouchy, single man who is forever bemoaning his fate, but doing little to change it. He is completely smitten with his brother-in-law’s third wife, Ella. A ruminator. A kvetch. A smart, sweet, passionate, insightful, wound-tight, self proclaimed failure. You gotta love the guy, even though he’ll drive you crazy.
Sonia (20s) helps manage the family estate with her uncle Vanya, whom she loves even though he can drive her crazy. She has a somewhat distant relationship her father, the Professor. Her mother, Vanya’s older sister, is deceased, and she has never connected with her father’s third wife, Ella. Sonia has serious self-esteem, issues, and a secret and unrequited passion for Dr. Aster, her uncle’s best friend. Kind, caring, capable, and quirky. Not comfortable in her body.
The Professor (60s-70s) was married to Vanya’s deceased older sister and therefor, by inheritance, considers the family estate to be his, even though he is seldom there. He is the father of Sonia, with whom he has an somewhat distant relationship, and is currently married to his beautiful, and much younger, third wife, Ella. He is very impressed with his own intelligence, which he never hesitates to exhibit. Big mind, big ego, big vocabulary. Sometimes selfish, and yet somehow always well-meaning. THIS ROLE HAS BEEN CAST.
Ella (30s) is the Professors third wife. She fell hard for him when she was his student, but isn’t sure how, if at all, she fits into his family. Her relationship with her step-daughter, Sonia, is strained. Others are trying to either ignore or act on their attraction to her. She is pensive, kind, extremely intelligent with multiple college degrees, and uncomfortable with the fact that others see only her looks. Searching, frustrated, hopeful, and sad. Very attractive and desirable, but not at all superficial. A lot smarter than you’d think.
Dr. Aster (40s-50s), is a physician who works hard at his profession, and works hard at keeping in shape. He is an obsessive type who doesn’t know how to slow down. He and Vanya grew up together and have remained lifelong best friends. He is totally unaware of Sonia’s romantic feelings towards him. He, instead, is strongly attracted to Ella, the Professor’s beautiful third wife. Broken, beautiful, dissatisfied, savvy, sad, and self-analytical. He cares deeply and oddly, about just about everything – including nature. A friend to all.
Pickles (30s-40s) is a heartbroken lesbian (the love of her life left her 17 years ago) who lives over the garage and makes crafty things and, sometimes, daffy observations. She often uses her quirkiness to disguise her true feelings, such as her attraction to Ella, for whom she makes a pair of hand puppets, as a means of expressing her feelings. An odd, sweet, loyal duck. Very literal, she interprets things in her own unique way, and has a tendency to speak before she thinks. Relentlessly positive. She believes love lasts forever. She does not believe life sucks.
Babs (60s) is a rather well-adjusted artistic soul who came to help tend to Sonia’s dying mother and somehow never left. She is the one most likely to see things as they really are, and to speak the truth. Though never married, she has a maternal quality about her, as well as a few secrets from her past. She is a very talented potter. Vibrant, artistic, outspoken, and even enlightened. A great soul and scrappy wit. She’s very proud of her grandfather, who emigrated to the U.S. from the Ukraine, and became a wealthy restaurateur, having started out with only a hot dog cart.
ABOUT ALLENS LANE: Since its establishment in 1953, Allens Lane Art Center has been a vital cornerstone in the Mount Airy, Germantown, and Greater Philadelphia communities, with the mission of Growing Together Through the Arts. Allens Lane Theater typically presents four mainstage plays each season, continuing a long-standing community theater program that has seen thousands of artists and audience members pass through our doors. We are committed to producing the best of contemporary theater, exciting new plays, and boldly re-imagined classics to reflect the rich diversity of our local neighborhoods. In addition to our Mainstage season, we offer theater classes for youth and adults, Children’s Theater productions, a Reader’s Theater to workshop new plays, and Community Voices events that highlight local artists of different backgrounds. Allens Lane Theater aims to bring people of all ages together through the communal power of the arts and is committed to diverse representation in our productions, both with the actors on stage and the artists working behind the scenes.
Learn more at www.allenslane.org.