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Chekhov’s shun! Clinton Hill play has ‘poor door’ for cheap-ticket holders

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This is one to Chekhov your bucket list.

An experimental theater group is staging an immersive production of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” that will allow audience members choose their experience — and their ticket price — in the shuttered parish hall of a Clinton Hill church. Admission ranges from the 99-cent “serf ticket” to $99 “tsar ticket.” Big spenders get the royal treatment, but the folks in the cheap seats have to enter through a separate “poor door” and serve more affluent theatergoers.

“It’s as much an interpretation of Chekhov as a social experiment,” said Highly Impractical Theatre director Elana McKelahan.

In between the two extremes are tickets for the proletariat ($15), bourgeoisie ($25), and aristocracy ($50) — the former also has to take the poor door and will be patted down upon entering, but the latter two are spared the indignity. The aristocracy and tsars get gratis booze to boot. Serfs and tsars also play minor roles in the play, so tickets are limited, McKelahan said.

The original play is about a late-19th-century Muscovite family’s degradation and dissolution after a decade living in uncultured provincial Russia — a process accelerated by an adulterous sister-in-law’s machinations to dispossess them of their home.

But as part of McKelahan’s social experiment, Highly Impractical Theatre’s version is set in a dystopian near-future where Brooklyn is devoid of culture and is instead occupied by police.

“It’s set in 2040 in Brooklyn to explore issues America faces today but compounded,” McKelahan said. “The educated people have fled Brooklyn. There is extreme class division, wealth inequality, and deterioration. Instead of ushers, police will patrol the aisles.”

Still, the plot revolves around a house party, and the three-hour production promises singing, dancing, and a totally unique experience. Scenes take place in different rooms across three floors, so social status will determine where an audience member is when a given event goes down — think “Sleep No More” with a caste system.

“Certain scenes may take place simultaneo­usly,” McKelahan said. “You will get a full experience regardless, but it will be different.”

But don’t feel like you’ll get the short end of the stick if you can’t pony up for the $99 experience.

“We’ve built in a significant discount for those who want to return to catch other parts,” McKelahan said.

“Three Sisters” (259 Washington Ave. between Dekalb and Myrtle avenues in Clinton Hill, www.highlyimpracticaltheatre.org) Sept. 4–28 at 5 pm. 99¢–$99.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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