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On Stage

Chekhov In A Comic Blender

Christopher_Durang_huntingtontheatreco.jpg
huntingtontheatreco / Flickr / Creative Commons
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Christopher Durang is an actor and playwright known mainly for his satires, parodies and dark comedies. His first professional production, co-written with fellow student Albert Innaurato, was a parody titled The Idiots Karamazov for the Yale Repertory Theatre. It starred another student, Meryl Streep, in the role of Constance Garnett.

In 1980, Durang was awarded an Obie for his one-act play, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. He kept busy writing for the theatre, writing screenplays and teleplays, including a stint as a staff writer for the television special titled "Carol and Robin and Whoopi and Carl," for which he won an Emmy. He also performed in cabaret with a faux nightclub act, "Chris Durang and Dawne," at the Criterion Center in New York City. It developed into a late-night cult favorite.

Durang has won a variety of grants, fellowships and awards for his work. His comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won a Tony award in 2013 for Best Play. In an interview for McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., where the play premiered, Durang insisted the play was not a parody. He explained, "It takes Chekhov's themes and characters and mixes them all up, as if I’ve put them into a comic blender... They are not in pre-revolutionary Russia, and they don’t have samovars, and they don’t pay for things with rubles. On the other hand, they are filled with regret and bitterness and are busy wondering if they made the right choices in life.”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will be put on by the Guild Hall Players at St. James Episcopal, starting a four-night run on March 12th.