The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, directed by faculty member R.N. Sandberg and featuring senior Zachary Salk as Vanya, on October 18, 19, 23, 24, and 25 at 8:00 p.m. Performances will take place in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street. A talk-back discussion with Princeton theater professor Mark Nelson will be held following the October 24 performance.

Romantic and existential passions bubble to the surface and threaten to overwhelm the characters in Chekhov’s dark comedy. When Professor Serebryakov returns to his late wife’s estate with his lovely young wife Yelena, the lives of his brother-in-law Vanya, his daughter Sonya, and the local doctor Astrov are thrown into disarray.

Premiering in Moscow in 1899, Uncle Vanya has been a time-honored classic of the modern stage for over a century. “Chekhov’s plays have typically been produced in America as dreary, melancholic portraits of bored, empty lives in turn of the century Russia,’ notes Sandberg. “However Chekhov didn’t call Vanya a drama. Our approach is to try to mine the humor in Uncle Vanya as fully as we can while exploring the rich, vital lives of the characters. We hope it will be filled with laughter and passion that engages the audience in an evening of exciting, immediate theater.”

Both a director and a playwright, Sandberg directed last year’s Lewis Center production of A Steady Rain and in summer 2012 directed Gaslight for Princeton Summer Theater. His play, Roundelay, premiered at Passage Theater last March.

Zachary Salk, a Princeton senior majoring in English and pursuing a certificate in theater, will be featured in this production as part of his senior thesis project. “Chekhov had an incredible gift for creating characters to which anyone, no matter their age, can relate,” explains Salk. “The opportunity to explore those characters is one of the reasons why I chose this play for my senior thesis.” Salk has been a regular presence on the Princeton stage, including Princeton Shakespeare Company productions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (as Rosencrantz) and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and in last season’s Lewis Center production of Der Bourgeois Bigwig,
The cast also features Maeve Brady ’15, Evelyn Giovine ’16, Victoria Gruenberg ’16, Caroline Hertz ’15, Tadesh Inagaki ’14, Kanoa Mulling ’15, Jake Robertson ’15 and Mark Watter ’14.

In addition, this production will feature a set design by Aryeh Stein-Azen ’14, costume design by Savannah Marquandt ’16, lighting design by Maeli Goren ’15, music direction by Mark Watter ’14, and Caroline Hertz ’15 will serve as an assistant director. Most of the cast and crew are also certificate students in the Program in Theater at the Lewis Center.

The post-show talk-back discussion on October 24 will feature Lewis Center Lecturer in Theater Mark Nelson. Nelson has acted in and directed numerous productions of Chekhov’s plays, including playing the character of Uncle Vanya in a production directed by Bartlett Sher at the Intiman Theatre.

Tickets for Uncle Vanya are $12 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and are available through Princeton University Ticketing by calling 609.258.9220 or on-line at, at the Frist Campus Center Ticket Office, and at the door on the night of performances.



Presented By

  • Program in Theater