Production History: The Seagull

By: Emily Field-Olson

 

1896:

World premiere of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull  at the Empress Alexandrea Theater in St. Petersburg

Directed by: Yevtikhy Karpov

-Opening night was regarded as a failure. The show ran for five performances.

 1898:

The Moscow Art Theater produces The Seagull to great critical acclaim.

Directed by: Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Konstantin Stanislavski

1909:

The Seagull is adapted for the English-speaking stage for the first time and is performed at the Glasgow Royalty Theater. Translated by George Calderon.  This was the first of Chekhov’s plays to be seen by the English-speaking world.

1938:

The Seagull comes to Broadway and stars an 18-year old Uta Hagen as Nina, making her Broadway debut

uta hagen

 

1970:

Mosfilm, a celebrated film studio in Russia produces a movie version of The Seagull. The film was awarded the best adapatation of a classical work at the IX International Film Festival in Chicago in 1973. (It’s really good! Check it out!!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaRhIQB7_wo

1981: 

Thomas Kilroy adapts The Seagull for the Royal Court Theater. The show was put into an Anglo-Irish setting. The artistic director of the Royal Court Theater, Max Stafford-Clark asked Kilroy to direct such a production because “He believed that an Anglo-Irish setting would provide a specificity, at once removed from, and at the same time, comprehensible to, an English audience. He also felt that an Irish setting would more easily allow the rawness of passion of the original to emerge, the kind of semi-farcical hysteria, which Chekhov uses…a kind of rough theatricality somewhat removed from polite English comedy” (Gottlieb 80). Both Stafford-Clark and Kilroy believed that by setting The Seagull in an Anglo-Irish setting, they would be better able to resonate with Chekhov’s original intention of the play. The Anglo-Irish, at the end of the 19th century, went through a similiar social upheaval  as the Russians with the removal of the landowning class. Many of the characters were tweaked to better fit this new setting, but the message of the play remained the same.

seagull letter

 

2013:

The Black Coffee Theater produces The Seagull and sets the show in the 1920s. Although not especially critically acclaimed or famous (not the reverse either), this production offered a radical new view on Chekhov’s play, while at the same time attempting to modernize the play so that it resonated with audiences in the way they believed Chekhov would have wanted it to. The language was modernized and literary and cultural references were updated. As Antoinette Stott reviewed “Their shortening and rewording of the play is delightfully funny, the actors and director have made sure to engage the comedy and pathos inherent in Chekov’s story.” In this way, the Black Coffee Theater was able to interpret Chekhov’s story as a comedy, rather than a tragedy. This is in oppositions to most productions, which generally follow the Stanislavski model by making the show a tragedy.

 Works Cited

 

“From the Thomas Kilroy Archive at NUI Galway.” Theatre Archive Document of the Month. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Gottlieb, Vera, and Paul Allain. The Cambridge Companion to Chekhov. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

Chekhov, Anton Pavolvich, Michael Henry. Heim, and Simon Karlinsky. Anton Chekhov’s Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentary. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California, 1975. Print.

Stott, Antoinette. “The Seagull – New Wimbldeon Studio, London.” The Public Reviews. N.p., 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

Tracy, Robert. “A Cexov Anniversary.” The Slavic and East European Journal 4.1 (Spring 1960): 25-34. American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. Web. 12 Apr. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/304054>

Vandamm Studio. Uta Hagen in The Seagull. 1938. Vandamm Theaterical Photographs, New York City. New York Public Library. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web.

Production History – “The Seagull”