Michael Abercromby picks The Cherry Orchard for WAAPA acting students

Second year WAAPA acting students in The Cherry Orchard.
Second year WAAPA acting students in The Cherry Orchard.

RUSSIAN playwright Anton Chekhov may have written The Cherry Orchard in another time and place, but the classic play about family on the brink of ruin remains relevant to modern Australian audiences.

Additionally, Perth-born WAAPA graduate Michael Abercromby has returned to his alma mater to undertake his Masters in Directing and is leading second year acting students in a production of the 1903 play to prove it.

“In the 21st century, over 100 years since the play first appeared on stage, we are in an almost perpetual state of flux,” Abercromby said.

“We are moving at such a pace that those who do not bend, break and those who hang on to the old get left behind, often with disastrous consequences. That’s the lesson this play teaches.”

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Abercromby has chosen to use a new translation of The Cherry Orchard by English playwright Simon Stephens, who adapted for stage Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

He said the translation focused on the wave of progress affecting the characters.

“He has trimmed back all the fat often present in Chekhov,” Abercromby said.

“This wave (of progress) can either be ridden smoothly or resisted; crashing down with destructive force.”

Abercromby said his return to WAAPA had been a surreal experience, but also a wonderful honour.

“I just hope to give the students the same experience I had when treading the boards in second year,” he said.

The Cherry Orchard is at Judith Cottier Theatre, Perth College from March 15 to 20.

Tickets at waapa.ecu.edu.au/boxoffice.

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