In one act, just 45 minutes, UFV’s theatre department hopes to hit the short and sweet mark with their 2017/18 season kick-off play, The Bear.
Written by Anton Chekhov, The Bear is a short comedy about a young widow who, on the seven-month anniversary of her husband’s death, has her mourning obnoxiously interrupted by a landowner named Smirnov; apparently, the deceased owes Smirnov a lot of money. Both their stubbornness, hers to not pay, his to get paid, evolves into arguments about love and gender.
“I’ll stay for a year. I’m going to get my own, my dear! You don’t get at me with your widow’s weeds and your dimpled cheeks! I know those dimples,” Smirnov announces.
Insulted, and seemingly unaware of contemporary gender conventions, Smirnov challenges the mourning Popova to a duel.
Student director, Noel Funk, said his goal with the play is to emphasis the humour within it, as well as make it a spectacle to watch.
“I don’t actually like watching theatre, so when I direct, one of my biggest things is to make it into something that I’d want to watch,” Funk said. “That’s what I’ve been spending these rehearsals doing: I’ve been shifting it, and stylizing it into something that I’d want to see.”
The Bear will run Nov. 22 – Dec. 1, with matinees at 11:30 a.m., and evening performances at 4:30 p.m.
“The idea with our run times starting at 11:30 and 4:30 is that students can come in between classes, or before and after classes, and just drop in and watch, because it’s a pay what you can at the door,” said Funk. “We’re hoping to just have random people come in and see a show.”
Though written over 100 years ago, The Bear touches on very relevant issues like sexism. Smirnov, for one, is a very sexist man. But Funk enjoys twisting the audiences’ emotions. “I’m really, really excited to just see how many nerves I can hit.”
This is the first UFV Theatre show to be on stage at the Abbotsford campus since the department’s move from the UFV Chilliwack North campus in September, and they’ve had far more challenges than usual this year.
“This is the space UFV gave us, and it’s pretty dinky. What can you do?” said Funk. “This place cannot be a permanent theatre space.”
Funk said that although the space is limiting, the cast and crew has worked within its confines. Some of the new issues include not enough performance space, not enough audience space, and no catwalk. “The educational opportunities are also lessened quite a fair bit,” Funk added.
Regardless, Funk said he’s excited to see the play come together. “One thing about directing is you have no idea what it’s going to look like until it happens.” He also hopes that the new location will encourage more non-theatre students to get involved with shows.