LU News Archive

The classic ‘Uncle Vanya’ takes the stage at Lamar

Travon Haggerty as Vanya

Filled with humor, hope and loss, "Uncle Vanya" has been translated and adapted thousands of times since its premiere in Moscow in 1899 and is widely considered one of the greatest plays of modern drama.

Lamar University’s Department of Theatre & Dance will perform Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece Feb. 27 to March 2, directed and adapted in a new version by faculty member Joel Grothe.

The play tells the story of the Voynitsky family living on a countryside estate and dealing with major political and social upheavals in Russia around the turn of the 20th century. The story remains relevant today because Chekhov tackled subjects to which anyone can relate, such as family conflict, wasted opportunity, unrequited love and societal unrest.

“I think our audiences will really respond to it. It’s the kind of play that we do in a university theatre setting that not a lot of others in the area are going to do,” said Grothe, assistant professor of theatre.

Grothe's adaptation features a mostly contemporary setting, moving the action to Louisiana to examine the incredible cultural dichotomy of the region.

“It’s a new take on a classic. I read about a dozen different adaptations, but I wanted to do my own version and give the actors a chance to take more ownership of the language, as they would in a film,” said Grothe. “It also worked to depict the cultural and class dichotomies of the play in a region where those lines still exist today.”

Travon Haggerty of Baytown, a senior communication major with an emphasis in film, takes on the role of Vanya. The cast also features Chaz Romero, Orangefield; Natalie Sell, Klein; Rebecca Aswell, Bastrop; Tracie Van Law, Winnie; Hayden Gilbert, Lumberton; and Joseph Jordan, Vidor.

Faculty member Catalina Castillon, associate professor of English and modern languages and recent Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, plays Mrs. Voynitsky. David Hooker, English instructor at the Lamar Institute of Technology, appears as Professor Serebryakov.

Performances of “Uncle Vanya” will be in the Studio Theatre, inside the University Theatre building, located at 4400 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on the Lamar campus. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 through March 1, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 2. Tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for senior citizens, students and LU faculty/staff; and $7 for LU students. 

Call (409) 880-2250 for reservations and additional information, or visit

Pictured above: Travon Haggerty as Vanya. Below: Chaz Romero as Astrov and Natalie Sell as Helen. Photos by Lauren Van Gerven.

Scene from Uncle Vanya