Jennifer Summerfield is excited to make her Chekhov debut with such a wonderful team of artists. She’s appeared in several productions at Hedgerow, including Macbeth (Lady Macbeth,) Hamlet (Horatio,) “Don Quixote” (Dulcinea,) Dracula (VanHelsing,) and Gaslight (Bella.) She is a graduate of Smith College and the Neighborhood Playhouse. www.jennifersummerfield.com
Who do you play? Tell me a little about them.
I play Sonya, who, together with Uncle Vanya, runs the country estate where the play is set. Without us, the estate would be in ruins.
Where did you study theatre?
I studied theatre at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan.
What fascinates you about live theatre?
I love that no two people will ever approach a role in the same way, so you could perform the same play in twelve different productions and it would always be new because of what the other actors bring to their characters. I love that constant sense of discovery.
What interests you outside of theatre?
I love to travel.
Who’s your favorite writer? Why?
I’ve always been drawn to Charlotte Bronte because of the complex inner lives of her characters. I’ve always felt a deep connection to Lucy Snowe in “Villette.” And having grown up in Wyoming and those wild, open spaces, I always imagined myself on the moors with the Brontes.
Why did you want to do this play? Why do you think it should be done today?
I’ve wanted to perform Chekhov for years, ever since I was in school, and have never had the opportunity until now. So, thank you, Jared Reed, for making this possible. There’s no greater “actor’s playwright” than Anton Chekhov. He created complicated characters who often don’t know their own motivations and sometimes feel things their words contradict. I can’t describe how satisfying it is to research and develop these lives on stage. It’s a gift.
Why does Chekhov matter as a writer?
When Chekhov was first performed in Russia, theatres had no idea how to stage his plays and performed them with the overblown theatrics they were accustomed to. Audiences were perplexed and even angered by them. And then the Moscow Art Theatre came along and understood the naturalistic way Chekhov wrote and the pace and build of his plays. We owe our modern theatrical tradition to him.
What’s your favorite quote of Chekhov’s?
Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other.
Why should an audience member come see this play?
The play is a work of art and is peopled with characters you’ll recognize from your own life. Also, the acting is superb.