Performance History Of Seagull Play

Anton Chekhov's The Seagull or Chayka, as known in Russian, is the first play in the author's second period of writing for the theater. Revealing his mastery of techniques, the plays also shares the unique Chekhovian mood. Let us know more about the performance history of Seagull play.

Premiere in St. Petersburg

On 17 October 1896, The Seagull was first premiered at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Petersburg. But it was a total disaster and booed at by the audience. Vera Komissarzhevskaya, considered the best actor in Russia, was Nina in the play. She was completely intimidated by the hostile audience. Chekhov, who had taken refuge backstage for the last two acts, announced to Suvorin next day that he was finished with writing plays. Although his supporters assured him that later performances were more successful, he assumed that they were just being kind. But the Seagull had already impressed the playwright and friend of Chekhov Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. This is a bleak chapter in the performance history of Seagull play

The Moscow Art Theatre production

In 1898, Nemirovich overcame Chekhov's refusal and allowed the play to be staged in Moscow at their newly-founded Moscow Art Theatre. He convinced Stanislavski to direct the play. A new approach with a detailed directorial score was developed. Stanislavski believed that a unified expression of the inner action was hiding beneath the surface of the play and it was important to bring that tom the surface. Seagull performance history reveals that the production opened on 17 December 1898 with a sense of great apprehensions in the theatre. But one could feel something special happening in the first Act itself. The mood of excitement in the audience kept on growing with each act. The applause which came at the end after a prolonged silence was like the bursting from the audience like a dam. Seagull play received unanimous praise from the press. But it was only on 1 May 1899 that Chekhov saw the production. The Moscow Art Theatre till today bears the seagull as its emblem in order to commemorate the historic production that gave it its identity.

Recent productions

As part of the New York Shakespeare Festival summer season, the Joseph Papp Public Theater presented The Seagull play in Central Park from July 25, 2001 to August 26.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, after doing an international tour, came into residence at the West End's New London Theatre until 12 January 2008 staged a more recent production.

On March 13, 2008, the Classic Stage Company in New York City revived the work in a production of Paul Schmidt's translation directed by Viacheslav Dolgachev.

On September 16, 2008 the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway began previews of Ian Rickson's production The Seagull with Kristin Scott Thomas reprising her role as Arkadina.