Viewers will be able to follow six characters on stage as they fight, love, and go through tragedies this weekend during a YouTube livestream of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” which will be Doudna’s first live streamed play.
The classic play was adapted by acting professor and director Anne Thibault. “The Seagull” looks into the personal lives of each character on stage as they struggle with depression and unrequited feelings of love towards one another.
Unlike most plays, “The Seagull” does not feature any of the character’s major life events on stage, but instead focuses on the results. Thibault said Chekhov’s plays weren’t written for the plot or climatic purposes, but for the characters.
“He [Chekhov] definitely didn’t write plays in a kind of climactic sort of traditional Aristotelian [way],” Thibault said, “so those big events happening off stage make it much more about the reverberations of life, rather than the big events of life.”
Thibault added that the deep longing in the play is seen today because everyone is longing to see each other during the pandemic.
“There is so much longing in “The Seagull,” like everybody’s in love with the wrong person, and everybody wants something they can’t have, and they’re bored and unsatisfied,” Thibault said. “I just feel like not knowing how this is going to end this pandemic or what the end date or what is safe for, you know, what all the rules are. That longing for differences in life really spoke to me, that longing for something different or longing for your life to change, but you’re not sure how. I think those themes of “The Seagull” had really spoken to me.”
Maya Hammond, a theatre arts major who plays Kostya, said they don’t avoid that the pandemic is happening in the play.
“We didn’t avoid the fact that there were, you know, masks,” Hammond said, “We didn’t avoid the fact that COVID was going on, there’s even scenes in the show where we all are wearing masks to address it. I feel like it’s a sign of the times kind of play right now.”
Despite the deep longing within the play, there are several lighter scenes in the play.
Thibault said the painful awkwardness and irony within the play helps lighten the heavy themes.
“I mean there is a sandwich eating scene is just one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and I think even with the unrequited love, there’s so much painful awkwardness to me that it makes it funny and heartbreaking and awkward, but Chekhov is heavy the way life is heavy,” Thibault said
Hammond said the happy moments in “The Seagull” comes with a price.
“When you really sit down and think about them and watch them, they all come with a negative connotation,” Hammond said, “even when my character, in the beginning, is making one of her dreams come true, in a way, by having her play performed, but everyone is making fun of it.”
The play will be filmed and edited by students majoring in film and production as well as the Doudna Crew.
Kylan Cole, a television and production major, said he liked being on set with everyone and getting a feel for getting to be a part of the production.
“Being on set with everybody is my favorite part,” Cole said. “Just finally getting that feel of actually being a part of the production behind the scenes and seeing how everything works.”
Cole said he thought doing a live action is cool because it’s different and works with COVID restrictions. He added that most of the shots were collaborated between the students filming and Thibault.
While the play is being live streamed, students had to attend zoom auditions and rehearse for the play through zoom.
Aron Whitt, a sophomore theatre arts major and plays Medvedenko, said that during rehearsals he experienced a lot of internet connection issues.
“Sometimes I had bad (internet) connections where I was at, I’m in Douglas Hall, so it would kick me out of things,” Whitt said, “and each day she (Thibault) knew that I would be in different locations trying to find [internet], and each day she would be like ‘Aron, why is your room so different?’ and I’d be like ‘I’m not in my room today.’ When I’m in my room, (she’ll say) ‘Your room still looks different!’ and I’d say, ‘No it don’t, I’m still in the same spot!’”
He added that when they experience technical difficulties, they would pause for a bit before acting through the scene until whoever’s screen that froze came back into the scene. Despite their difficulties, he added, they were still able to put the play on stage together.
Viewers can find the link to “The Seagull” live stream at https://www.eiu.edu/theatre/playing.php.
Elizabeth Wood can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]