Cast of “Three Sisters” Inspired by Classic Play and Director Clarence Gilyard
On Friday, April 16, the Department of Theatre and Dance at California State University, Dominguez Hills opened its production of Anton Chekov classic play “Three Sisters,” directed by guest artist and CSU Dominguez Hills alumnus Clarence Gilyard (Class of ’89, B.A., theatre arts) and starring some of the university’s most talented students. The success of opening night was celebrated with a post-show reception at which the audience was invited to meet the cast and director and enjoy refreshments.
Senior Latoya Getter plays Olga, the oldest of the three sisters, in the production, which runs through this Sunday. Being a theater student at CSU Dominguez Hills has been very enriching, says Getter, and playing the oldest sister was not a foreign concept to her because she is the oldest in her family.
“I know how hard it is to be the oldest, and to try to pull your family together when your family is going through [difficulties],” she says. “I will definitely use my experience here at Dominguez to help motivate me to keep acting,” she says.
Getter says that her love and passion for acting is nurtured by the team spirit of her fellow classmates.
“We work as a team to make this great thing together,” she says.
Monique Toliver-Torres, a mass communications major, portrays Masha, the middle sister. The former actress says that “It’s been five years since I last acted and the theatre department here at Dominguez has really influenced me to go back to acting.”
Toliver-Torres has been in commercials for products like Coca-Cola and had guest starring roles on television series and films including “Moesha,” “Any Day Now,” and “The District.” She says that one of her biggest motivators to act is her love of reading. She was able to portray the disillusioned wife so well because, she laughs, “I am married and that helps.”
“I’m happily married,” she adds, “but I understand the confusion that [Masha] is in. Until you are in a union you can’t understand how hard it is to walk away. Masha is in it and she can’t walk away from her marriage.”
Toliver-Torres says that working in this play was a great experience and she has really enjoyed being part of the cast.
Masha’s doting husband, Kulygin, is being played by graduating senior Crenshaw Cottrell. He says that his education at CSU Dominguez Hills has brought out the thespian in him. Cottrell admits to having opening night jitters, but in spite of that, he says his character forced him to get out of his comfort zone and he really enjoyed that.
“It's weird,” he says. “I don’t feel stage fright, but at first I did feel a little anxiety. But once you get into character, nothing else disturbs you.”
Sonia Bawa, a sophomore who plans to major in theatre and dance, plays Irina, the youngest of the three sisters. It was her first college acting role.
“I had only acted in high school,” she says. “This experience with Mr. Gilyard has really helped me learn to become my character.”
“Acting is a great passion,” Bawa says. “At first it was hard to identify with my character because she’s older than me, but Mr. Gilyard helped me understand that to portray an older character I had to realize where she was and where she was going.”
Robin D. White, an alumnus of CSU Dominguez Hills and former classmate of Gilyard, played Tuzenbach, who falls in love with Irina’s youthfulness. He says that working on this play was very enjoyable and interesting. The cast spent one day learning how to conduct themselves like soldiers, while on another day they watched the film, “Nicholas and Alexander.”
“We also got to sit with some Russian students to help us with our pronunciation. It was a lot of fun to bounce words off of them,” he says.
White is thankful that he has been offered the opportunity to work with the youth of this generation because “they are so talented and creative.”
White’s wife Mulu Skinner-White also returned to the university’s stage 20 years since she last roamed the halls as another classmate of Gilyard. Skinner-White says it was wonderful to be a part of a cast that included a new generation of students. Working on this play made her realize that “I have got to dedicate more time to [acting].” She also shared that her husband proposed to her in the hall outside of the Edison Theater, so the site always brings back fond memories.
All of the cast praised Gilyard’s direction and were grateful he agreed to participate with this show. They also expressed gratitude for what they learned from Gilyard and from each other. They hope that their performance will keep theater seats full for the duration of the play.
“Three Sisters” continues in the University Theatre at CSU Dominguez Hills this weekend with performances on Friday and Saturday, Apr. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and a final matinee on Sunday, Apr. 25 at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, contact the Theatre and Dance Department at (310) 243-3588 or 243-3588, or email email@example.com , or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saturday performance will be broadcast live on local cable channel LA36 as well as web cast at dhtv.csudh.edu as part of the "LIVE From Dominguez Hills" series that is produced by the university's
Distance Learning department.
For more information about Distance Learning, click here.
For more information on the department of theatre arts at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.
- Jacqueline Tejeda
Photo above: The cast of "Three Sisters" held an opening night reception on April 16 and shared their experiences of working with guest artist and CSU Dominguez Hills alumnus Clarence Gilyard.
L-R: Dueal Andrews, Jr., Monique Toliver-Torres, and Latoya Getter
L-R: Mulu Skinner-White, Robin White, and Collin Bressie
Photos by Jacqueline Tejeda
Jacqueline Tejeda is a senior majoring in communications and an intern in the Office of University Communications and Public Affairs.