Yale Rep Presents World Premiere of ‘Field Guide,’ Based on ‘the Brothers Karamazov’

By Minor, E. Kyle | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), January 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

Yale Rep Presents World Premiere of ‘Field Guide,’ Based on ‘the Brothers Karamazov’


Minor, E. Kyle, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


While the country anxiously awaits word on the extent of Russia’s manipulation of our last general election, it’s immediately clear that former Soviets have directly influenced our recent theater. Last year’s “Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1912,” an improbable yet impressive musical drawn from Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel “War and Peace,” proved that Broadway audiences would embrace a stylish, musically complex adaptation, if not sustain it for a multiyear run.

On Feb. 1, Yale Repertory Theatre officially opens its world-premiere production of “Field Guide,” created by Rude Mechs, clearly toiling under the influence of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s magnum opus “The Brothers Karamazov.” For the company members of Rude Mechs, a collective based in Austin, Texas, opening night is the payoff for a commission Yale Rep granted in 2014.

“It’s been a long three years,” said director Shawn Sides, punctuating her comment with laughter. “In the beginning, we just start doing things not knowing that we can’t.

“We adapted ‘Lipstick Traces’ in 1999,” she said, referencing Greil Marcus’ 500-page history of the last century through art. “That was also harrowing, but it was pretty fast.”

Since 1996, Rude Mechs has created 30 works, many of them inspired by or genuinely adapted from source material. It’s fair to say that “Field Guide,” which began previews Jan. 26 and continues at Yale Rep through Feb. 17, is the company’s most ambitious creation yet. Considering that Dostoyevsky reportedly took two years to complete his tome, it would seem that Rude Mechs encountered some rough sledding during its three-year endeavor to bring the novel — considered by many the greatest accomplishment in world literature — to the stage.

“Though we started working on the piece in 2015, we worked on other projects, too,” said Lana Lesley, who plays Dmitri. “We put things down and pick them up again, over and over.”

While Rude Mechs duly credits company member Hannah Kenah for the text of the piece (“Hannah is boss of the script,” said Lesley), “Field Guide” evolved as the creation of Mari Akita, Lowell Bartholomee, Kenny Chilton, Madge Darlington, Eric Dyer, Robert Fisher, Aaron Flynn, Thomas Graves, Kevin Jacaman, Kirk Lynn, Graham Reynolds, Brian H Scott, Dallas Tate, Sides and Lesley.

In addition to Lesley, the cast consists of Akita (Alyosha), Bartholomee (Fyodor), Fisher (Smerdyakov), Graves (Ivan), and Kenah (Grushenka, Katya, Grigory). …

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