It was four years ago that I first experienced the power housed inside the writing of Anton Chekhov. Like many who grew up in the theatre or around it, I had been exposed to Chekhov on a number of occasions. First in acting class, where the work was oh-so-precious that I held it at arm’s length. Then as an audience member, where I sat endlessly waiting for something to happen. I came to regard Chekhov as “theatrical spinach” I knew it was good for you, but “Ack!” to the taste. Perhaps a more accurate metaphor would be a child who steals a sip of wine from their parent’s glass-overwhelmed by all the flavors and shocked that anyone could drink it willingly, much less enjoy it.
“Love, which seems the realest thing, is really nothing at all; a simple grey rock is a thousand times more tangible than love is; and the earth is such a rock, and love only a breeze that dreams over its surface, weightless and traceless, yet love’s more mineral, more dense, more veined with gold and corrupted with lead, more bitter and more weighty than the earth’s profoundest matter. Love is a sea of desire stretched between shores-only the shores are real, but how much more compelling is the sea. Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood. A dream which makes the world seem … an illusion. The art of illusion is the art of love, and the art of love is the blood-red heart of the world.” -from Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Corneille’s The Illusion
I am writing this at the end of one of the most intense, passionate, painful, beautiful weeks of rehearsal I have ever had. And all because some guy named Aaron Posner, contemplating his complex relationship with Chekhov, decided to write a variation on Chekhov’s The Seagull called Stupid Fucking Bird, and blew the doors open on a master that was for many people like theatre medicine. Continue reading “Stupid Fucking Bird – A Note from Director Jessica Kubzansky”→
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.”