Last week, Florida Atlantic University’s theater department announced its slate of productions for the 2013-2014 season, providing ample opportunities for its graduate students to explore the work of old masters such as Chekhov, Wilde, Shakespeare and Ionesco. According to Gvozden Kopani, chair of FAU’s theater department, the season is designed to flow from realism to anti-realism, thus offering the students a broad spectrum of acting styles. We asked Kopani to comment on each of the shows on this upcoming season’s docket.

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, Oct. 4-13, 2013

Kopani: “We were originally going to produce ‘Uncle Vanya,’ but ‘The Cherry Orchard’ is in many ways a finer and more of a subtle play. We very often choose plays simply because of their genre, not necessarily because of its message. ‘The Cherry Orchard’ is not necessarily a piece that perhaps might resonate well with today’s day and times. To me, the play demonstrates a real change in Russia, going from an aristocratic social order into a much more bourgeoisie society. It was written around 1904, and in some ways it anticipates the Russian revolution. We’re not in any way dealing with the politics of the play, but rather just showing the play as a valuable piece, to transmit it as vehicles for actors.”

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Nov. 15-24, 2013

Kopani: “When we started selecting the season, this was not on our short list, because we started with ‘Vanya.’ Both ‘Vanya’ and ‘Cherry Orchard’ were intended as comedies, until Stanislavski decided to direct both of them as much more serious plays. So the tradition in America to produce Chekhov as serious drama continues. Clearly, the farcical nature of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ which is also social commentary about the Victorian mores and values, particularly the institution of marriage, is a good counterpoint, and it gives the season a balance, where we go from a more serious drama to another social commentary that is much lighter in nature.”

Two Gentlemen of Verona, by William Shakespeare, Feb. 14-23, 2014

Kopani: Our graduate students are now starting to get into different periods and styles, and they finish up in the second semester in dealing with anti-realism. These varying styles can be seen in this weave of Oscar Wilde going into ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ where they have to deal with much more nuanced speech and different kind of values than they would find in realism.

‘Two Gentlemen’ is not very often done, because people don’t think of it as a particularly mature piece. It was a piece that I think Shakespeare used as a stepping-stone. He uses the person behind the person theme – the conceit he uses later on in ‘Twelfth Night,’ with one individual masquerading as another. He develops that theme later on, but it is still fairly light in nature – exploring themes of fidelity, friendship, love.”

Rhinoceros, by Eugue Ionesco, April 4-13

Kopani: “It’s absurdist theater. You’re talking about mid-century drama, and Ionesco is generally a political commentator as well. He is dealing with the political struggles that you’d hear about prior to the Second World War and then immediately after the Second World War, and that is our struggle for political dominance between democracy and communism and fascism, and the individual’s struggle for identity. And like I said, our students are working on anti-realism, which would be absurdism, surrealism or expressionism. It suits them well in that regard.”

Tickets for each production cost $20. For the box office, call 800/564-9539, or for more information, visit fau.edu/theatre.