Troy University’s Theatre and Dance Department is set to perform “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov April 4 through April 6 at 7 p.m. in Malone Blackbox.
“The Seagull,” translated by Paul Schmidt, is a comedy about the trials humans face on a daily basis, and it asks questions about human nature, art and the meaning of life. Originally written in 1895, it is considered a classic piece of theatrical canon.
Jesse Graham, a lecturer of theater and the director of the play, had many goals in mind for the students when envisioning the play.
“First, I wanted the students to invest not only in bringing the characters to life, but to design and create the world you now see,” Graham said. “Secondly, I wanted our students to learn and apply the physical acting technique of Anton’s nephew, Michael Chekhov, to the process and discovery of this story.
“Finally, and probably most importantly, I wanted to know why Chekhov has always called this play a comedy, especially when so many of the themes feel tragic… unrequited love, failure, aging, jealousy, inertia… How could something positive come out of these obstacles?”
The original intention of this production was to create a balance between work and daily life for the students.
“I don’t think the general public realizes that our students have to go to class, go to work and still have about 25 hours of rehearsal a week,” Graham said.
The students are also fully responsible for the set design and technical elements, such as the set, props, costumes, lights, sound and stage management.
Cam Williams, a junior theater education P-12 major from Stevenson, serves not only as the part of Dorn (the local family doctor/obstetrician) in the play, but also as the scenic designer for the production.
As a scenic designer, Cam is responsible for coming up with the way the world of the play materializes on stage.
“This was mostly about using our director’s original concept to create an atmosphere for the audience that I feel aligns beautifully with the story we are trying to tell,” Williams said.
Working with such a unique stage as the BlackBox, Williams wanted to work with the space to create an exciting environment for the audience and to tie the play’s themes together.
“During our first production meeting, Jesse Graham (our director) said, ‘Everyone wants to be somewhere else. Everyone wants to be with someone else. No one is content with what they have,’” Williams said. “From that, I developed my concept: Everything is broken and adrift, but we are trying to hold it together.”
Veshonte Brown, a senior theatre and graphic design double major from Gautier, Mississippi, designed the poster for the play.
“I’ve read ‘The Seagull’ before, and I reread it before designing for it,” Brown said. “The thing that I loved most about the play is the theme that everything is decaying.
“Even beautiful things have a bit of rot to them, so that’s what I did for the poster. The seagull itself is a beautiful symbol of freedom, but it’s breaking apart and decay. But the play is also a comedy, which is why the speech bubbles say ‘mine, mine, mine,’ like the seagulls in ‘Finding Nemo.’”
The play is under two hours long (three acts with two intermissions) and features 13 actors.
“If you like a good drama, if some part of you likes to witness the heartbreak of unrequited love, if a thrilling twist intrigues you, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for ‘The Seagull,’” Williams said.
Tickets are available for purchase at troytheatre.org. General admission is $5, with limited seating.