Baylor Theatre debuts Anna Karenina

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer

Baylor Theatre debuted its production of “Anna Karenina” Tuesday night at Mabee Theatre in Baylor’s Hooper Schaefer Fine Arts building. The show, directed by Baylor graduate student Josh Horowitz, is a thesis production in conjunction with the Masters of Fine Arts degree program.

The theatrical rendition of an esteemed literary classic came to life on stage for the first time Tuesday night and will be performed every night until Saturday, Feb. 10.

“Anna Karenina”, a Russian novel by Leo Tolstoy, was published as a series of publications in 1873 and was completed in 1877. The novel has since been adapted into a movie as well as a stage production, the first of which was written by Helen Edmundson.

Edmundson, a famous English playwright, brought the imperialistic tragedy to the stage in 1992. The early ’90s adaptation earned itself a Time Out award and has since been reproduced on stages all over the world.

The tragic story revolves around Countess “Anna Karenina” and the torrid love affairs that envelop many of the characters’ lives. Anna’s brother Stiva is having an affair behind his wife Dolly’s back. The plot line revolves around a love triangle that includes wealthy landowner Levin’s infatuation for Princess Kitty, Dolly’s younger sister, who is in love with bachelor Vronsky.

Many of those involved in Baylor Theatre’s rendition of “Anna Karenina” said the production has been an exciting process.

Old Bethpage, N.Y. graduate student Josh Horowitz directed the play for his MFA thesis. Horowitz said Anna Karenina isn’t the first play he has directed, but it is definitely the biggest.

“It’s been a story I’ve always loved,” Horowitz said. “I think the faculty at Baylor have helped me understand, as a director, how to engage in the experience and find my aesthetic as a director. I also think it’s important you keep learning … That’s what I’ve learned here.”

Abilene Junior Kaelyn Matthews, a member of the stage production crew, said she is thrilled about participating in the production of “Anna Karenina” and is equally excited about how the show turned out opening night.

“It’s been really great… To get to see it come together from a little model to the big production,” Matthews said. “I’m really happy and excited to see the show.”

As part of the MFA graduate program thesis, the production was headed by graduate students and an undergraduate class. The production showcases a wide range of talents, including acting, stage lighting and sound.

“We [scenic crew] got to see the design presentation, and the sound is going to be really cool,” Matthews said. “The sound is very intense and makes the background of the play.”

The spring season for Baylor Theatre includes two MFA thesis productions, and Horowitz said he was honored to have been granted the opportunity to direct the first. Horowitz also said he was pleased about how the cast’s performance on opening night.

“I was so proud. My cast, I trust them, and they took what we did in rehearsals and they owned it. It was their show,” he said. “Opening night is my chance to say ‘It’s yours now,’ and I loved it … I think my actors did an amazing job sharing this story.”