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Cherry Orchard - set painting

Beginnings of the set – by Constance Mallinson

Rehearsals for CityShakes’ Emerging Director Mallin Alter’s production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard begin this weekend.

The team is excited to begin – work on the set is already under way!

Director Mallin Alter and set designer Constance Mallinson were inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of almond blossoms done in the late 19th century. In this case, the almond blossoms have been transformed into cherry blossoms, a motif throughout this production and symbolic of the changing life cycles central to the play’s meaning. The set painting not only functions as the house’s wallpaper, but represents the orchard itself and its significance in the characters’ lives. Audience members are enveloped by the set suggesting the exterior and interior of the house.

Set designer Constance Mallinson has been recently commissioned by Los Angeles Metro to install 24 permanent artworks at the new Santa Monica 26th and Olympic Bergamot Station.

Make sure you join our mailing list by clicking here, and be the first to know when tickets to The Cherry Orchard go on sale.


We at CityShakes are all about cultivating community. 

Since day one, we’ve prioritized our company members, by paying higher wages, providing professional working conditions, and working hard to become an Equity theater by January, 2016. Since moving to our Studio in 2013, we’ve been putting down roots and growing our Santa Monica audience base.

Introducing the Emerging Director Program.

Now, we’re working to foster the next generation of passionate self-starters, who have a strong directorial vision and a mission to share it. That’s why we’ve created our Emerging Director Program. One director will work closely with Co-Artistic Director Brooke Bishop as Assistant Director on at least one CityShakes show, and with Co-Artistic Director Allison Volk to learn the ropes of producing. With a lot of hard work and an awesome production proposal, what follows is the opportunity for this director to direct her or his first professional production, bolstered by CityShakes’ resources and its Artist Directors’ mentorship.


Mallin Alter – CityShakes’ 2014 Emerging Director 

We didn’t pull this idea out of thin air.

This past spring, when we put out a call for actors to audition for The Merchant of Venice, we received one submission from a plucky UCLA grad who was looking not to act, but to assist the director. Mallin Alter has since assisted Brooke on The Merchant of Venice and Romeo & Juliet, and has been pivotal to both productions in many ways, and has been a big part of the company’s growth this year. She made it clear from day one that she was looking for a theater community, a Shakespeare company to learn from, and maybe even a chance to direct again one day. Well, it looks like that’s exactly what Mallin found at CityShakes.

This fall, Mallin will direct a production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

While most of the CityShakes ensemble members (including Artistic Directors Brooke and Allison) are in Colorado shooting a feature film adaptation of Macbeth, Mallin will take over the CityShakes Studio. Mallin continues CityShakes’ mission to make classic texts accessible and relatable to modern audiences – she knows Chekhov can seem intimidating and boring, but just as Brooke has done with Shakespeare, Mallin wants to turn that stereotype on its head. Based on a recent translation by the late UCLA professor, Michael Henry Heim, this adaptation of The Cherry Orchard is amazingly relevant as the United States today confronts a new economic reality.

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