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Poland springs
Master director Krystian Lupa at ART
BY IRIS FANGER

At rehearsal last week, Krystian Lupa, the much decorated Polish director whoís at the American Repertory Theatre to stage Anton Chekhovís Three Sisters, paced the area marked out as the Prozorov family living room. A tall, stoop-shouldered, gray-haired man with a smile that lights up his face and a welcoming manner that needs no translation, he spoke in Polish, the message relayed in English to the actors by Marcin Wierchowski, his assistant and translator.

Three Sisters, which opens next weekend, marks Lupaís American debut. " Iíve already been directing in languages I didnít understand, in Hungarian and in Hebrew. Itís an interesting adventure for me. Very early on, there appears a meta-linguistic understanding. The content of the scene become clear and I donít need the Polish script to understand. Itís actually advantageous because the language doesnít pose an obstacle to the truthfulness of the acting. "

The rehearsal had paused in the midst of act three. Molly Wardís Masha was curled seductively around her lover, Vershinin (Tony Award winner ó for Sideman ó Frank Wood). Mashaís husband, Kulygin (Will LeBow), sat watching them. Lupaís directorial style gets him up on his feet for a hands-on closeness to the actors; he may rearrange their positions or even jump into the different roles. " When Iím on stage, Iím not showing the actors how to perform. I need to think about the situation the actors are in to get the stream of thoughts of the characters through my physical body, so I get the image. " ART senior actor Jeremy Geidt, who plays the old porter Ferapont, observes that " Lupa inhabits each of the roles. " LeBow, a veteran of 50 ART productions, describes the directorís goal as " intricate specificity in terms of human behavior. He wonít settle for generalized acting. "

Three Sisters was Lupaís choice of what to direct at ART. " I feel a very condensed and absurd vision of the world in Chekhov, an almost Kafkaesque madness thatís still covered with realism. Iíve become infected by Chekhov. " Next year heíll direct a production of the playwrightís original, uncut text of The Sea Gull at St. Petersburgís Alexandrinsky Theater, where the 1896 premiere was a flop.

The rehearsal resumes. As they speak, Lupa sits to the side, where he taps out an insistent beat on a snare drum, occasionally breaking into loud song over the rhythm to guide the actors through the scene. " Heís a loving man, of the work, of the process, of the actors, " says LeBow.

THREE SISTERS | American Repertory Theatre, Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St, Cambridge | Nov 26-Jan 1 | $15-$74 | 617.547.8300 or http://www.amrep.org/

 


Issue Date: November 18 - 24, 2005
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