Nelson directs the Aug. 1-19 Massachusetts run of the Russian classic that is presented on the Williamstown main stage. The first four rows of the theatre have been removed to bring the playing space further into the auditorium. In addition, dozens of microphones are positioned above the stage to conjure a more intimate and naturalistic sound.
The cast features Parker Bell-Devaney as Kolya, Charlotte Bydwell (The Importance of Being Earnest) as Vera Alexandrovna, Louis Cancelmi (Blasted) as Arkady Sergeich Islaev, Julian Cihi (The Importance of Being Earnest) as Alexei Nikolaevich Belyaev, Jessica Collins (Les Liasons Dangereuses) as Natalya Petrovna, Sean Cullen (South Pacific) as Ignaty Ilyich Shpigelsky, Harry Ford as Matvei, Kate Kearney-Patch (As It Is In Heaven) as Anna Semyonovna Islaeva, Paul Anthony McGrane (The Importance of Being Earnest) as Afanasy Ivanovich Bolshintsov, Jeremy Strong ("The Good Wife") as Mikhail Alexandrych Rakitin and Elizabeth Waterston (The Cherry Orchard) as Lizaveta Bogdanovna.
Nelson said in a statement, "This is an extraordinarily intimate play; the audience should feel they are in the same room as the characters, breathing the same air, almost as if they've been allowed into the characters' minds. So we're building our stage out into the audience, and using a sound design that will allow intimate conversations to be overheard, and intimate scenes to be experienced as if peered through a window, or a keyhole."
The design team includes Takeshi Kata (scenic design), Susan Hilferty (costume design), Japhy Weidman (lighting design) and Drew Levy (sound design).
Here's how Williamstown describes the production: "Settled into a life of sylvan contentment, 29-year-old Natalya (Collins) falls under the influence of a force she has never known before: desire. Without warning, her simple, predictable world is irrevocably changed and she is torn between moral responsibility and uncontrollable passion." Nelson is the Tony Award-winning playwright/adaptor of James Joyce's The Dead. His works also include Two Shakespearean Actors, Farewell to the Theatre, Conversations in Tusculum, Sweet and Sad, That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry, which will debut at the Public Theater this fall.