The UF School of Theatre and Dance is bringing Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” to life at the McGuire Pavilion Black Box Theatre with eight performances beginning Sept. 21 and ending Oct. 1.
Despite the 121 years between Friday’s opening and the famous failure that marked the 1896 unveiling, “The Seagull” will continue to explore the universal themes of love, art and artists in love.
Bearing in mind its disastrous debut, it was to Chekhov’s surprise that the play (during which he spent the last two acts hiding behind the scenes in embarrassment) became a success. Amidst the audience’s heckling, literary buff and audience member Anatoly Koni felt that Chekhov had achieved something special.
In a letter to the playwright, he wrote of “The Seagull,” “It is life itself onstage, with all its tragic alliances, eloquent thoughtlessness and silent sufferings — the sort of everyday life that is accessible to everyone and understood in its cruel internal irony by almost no one.”
According to legend, a critic later called the piece “one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theater” when it was brought to the Moscow Art Theatre stage in 1898.
On Sept. 21 to 24 and 26 to 30, Marian Fell’s 1912 English translation will receive a reimagining by associate professor of acting, Tim Altmeyer, who “adapted it to be even more engaging and relatable to contemporary audience,” according to the press release.
Though the work focuses on the romantic and artistic conflicts between its four principal characters, it also relies upon an ensemble cast of diverse and developed personalities who will explore their dreams and engage in conflicts largely through the subtext of rich dialogue.
“I think there is something profound about being freshly moved — to laugh, to think, to cry — by a theatrical work that was written in a foreign land, for a foreign culture, in and about a certain long-ago moment on the time continuum,” Altmeyer said, according to the release. “I think, by looking back and beyond, and somehow seeing our own reflection, we feel a little less alone in this world and can face our own future a little more bravely.”
Gabriella Carballo, a 19-year-old sophomore studying theatre at UF, knows first-hand what kind of work goes into the School of Theatre and Dance’s productions. She said the actors who are cast in the shows have work ethics that could equal those of professionals.
“Since it’s my second year, I know a lot more people around the School of Theatre and Dance. One of my really great friends from my Acting 1 class last Fall, Jarod Atchley, is in this production of ‘The Seagull,’” Carballo said. “He is one of the first friends I made at UF and is incredibly talented. I cannot wait to see his performance.”
Performances on Thursday, Sept. 21 through 23 and 26 through 29 will have a 7:30 p.m. curtain, while Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 will begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for the general public, $15 for seniors, $15 for UF faculty and staff and $13 for students and can be purchased at the University Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com.