Time May Change Me
By Gavin Reub, Artistic Director of The Seagull Project
From The Stupid Fucking Bird Encore program
“I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same”
Chekhov’s The Seagull premiered 120 years ago.
Same year the first Ford vehicle was built. Washington State was ten.
Now we have driver-less cars, and a state so green you can smell the progress.
Chekhov’s impact on drama and literature over that span is inarguable, but it’s rare for any modern author–especially a non-American–to find his way into the American canon. Not to mention for them to bore so deeply into our psyche that we seek further depth in our adaptations, extensive translations, and open “inspirations.”
What is it about Chekhov? Why are the most popular theatre artists in the world-Annie Baker, Cate Blanchett-breathing new life into his work?
We are on the edge of political upheaval. Our modes of interaction have changed–Snapchats, digital lives, and virtual reality–growing into a frustrated millennial silent scream. People are murdered on sidewalks as systems of power crumble. The very fabric of our structures and form are shifting around us.
It’s easy to be a passive observer. To sit behind a screen, and like Irina in The Three Sisters, plead into the void for a better life, from the comfort of our keyboards.
Chekhov built a live chamber where our own thoughts of inadequacy, turmoil, and fear echoed with such force off the beautiful characters that we could do nothing but feel for their passions and eternal suffering. The clock strikes down on their heads, pinning them deeper and deeper into the earth. Until they just disappear.
Chekhov’s final play, The Cherry Orchard, premiered in 1904. The play was a sign of the year to come. By 1905, Russia was in its first major revolution. Workers, the military, and students were all on strike. The Russian peasantry took up the torch, burning down 3,000 manors, amounting to 15% of Russia’s estates.
Where are the peasants now?
At the polls, in the streets, on the stage.
Torches in hand, lighting the path toward dynamic change.
“Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time”
“Dreams of realities peace
blow steam in the face of the beast
Sky could fall down, wind
could cry now, look at me
motherfucker I smile”
The Seagull Project was formed out of a passion for the great works of Anton Chekhov. An ACTLab partner since 2012, The Seagull Project has brought ACT patrons exceptional performances of The Seagull (2013) and The Three Sisters (2015), as well as quarterly readings under the helm “The Great Soul of Russia”. Visit acttheatre.org for details on their latest programming.