The Easterner

Anton Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ flies into the EWU theatre

Chekov's dramatic play brings love and heartache to EWU, opening on March 8.

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Anton Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ flies into the EWU theatre

Konstantin (Jared Martin) presents his love interest Nina (Isa Jackowich) a dead seagull during the dress rehearsal  of

Konstantin (Jared Martin) presents his love interest Nina (Isa Jackowich) a dead seagull during the dress rehearsal of "The Seagull" at EWU on March 6. "To me, ('The Seagull') is a celebration of the human ache that is passion," Senior Lecturer of Theater Jeffrey Sanders said. "It's a passion for living, a passion for love, for a better life. It hits all those universal topics."

Bailey Monteith

Konstantin (Jared Martin) presents his love interest Nina (Isa Jackowich) a dead seagull during the dress rehearsal of "The Seagull" at EWU on March 6. "To me, ('The Seagull') is a celebration of the human ache that is passion," Senior Lecturer of Theater Jeffrey Sanders said. "It's a passion for living, a passion for love, for a better life. It hits all those universal topics."

Bailey Monteith

Bailey Monteith

Konstantin (Jared Martin) presents his love interest Nina (Isa Jackowich) a dead seagull during the dress rehearsal of "The Seagull" at EWU on March 6. "To me, ('The Seagull') is a celebration of the human ache that is passion," Senior Lecturer of Theater Jeffrey Sanders said. "It's a passion for living, a passion for love, for a better life. It hits all those universal topics."

By Erik Rotness, A&F Editor

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A passionate play filled with aching souls and dark comedy, EWU’s production of “The Seagull” opens on March 8 at the EWU Theatre.

Written by Russian playwright Anton Chekov in 1895, the play is built around four main characters: Trigorin, Nina, Arkadina and Konstantin.

“He sets it in a country estate in Russia in 1895, and it’s the home of Soren the landowner and his sister Arkadina who is a famous Russian actress (and) is coming back and visiting the estate where they grew up,” Senior Lecturer of Theater Jeffrey Sanders said. “Really the story centers around Konstantin. Konstantin is a young man who desires to be a writer (and) he is passionately involved and in love with a young country girl named Nina.”

Arkadina brings the famous writer Trigorin, with whom she’s in a relationship, back to the estate with her.

Konstantin’s love interest Nina falls for Trigorin, and the love triangles ensue.

“A lot of the plot … revolves around three or four different love triangles … and a lot of the characters are pretty young,” senior and actress MJ Daly said. “In the first act they’re all 19 to 25. A lot of these characters who are all in love with the wrong person at the wrong time are 19 to 25 and it kind of captures that youthful love … it’s very passionate, both intellectually (and) physically, and I think that is pretty relatable to us young kids running around doing life in college. And relationship drama is always relevant.”

While the core of the play is focused on the four main characters, the supporting roles add their own interesting dynamics.

“You have a character named Masha who always wears black because she’s in mourning for her life,” Sanders said. “You have Medvedenko who’s a schoolteacher and he’s in love with Masha.”

“My character’s name is Masha,” Daly said. “She’s 22, same age as I am … she’s in love with a guy who’s absolutely not in love with her who kind of treats her badly through a lot of the show, not because he’s a mean person, so much as he just sees her as a nuisance … she doesn’t really do a whole lot to actually get him because she realizes he’s happier with someone else. It kills her inside, but the whole play she’s just trying to push that feeling down.”

A lot of these characters who are all in love with the wrong person at the wrong time are 19 to 25 and it kind of captures that youthful love … it’s very passionate, both intellectually (and) physically, and I think that is pretty relatable to us young kids running around doing life in college. And relationship drama is always relevant.”

— M. J. Daly, senior

The play deals with heartache but is still supposed to make the audience laugh.

“This is a play where everyone loves the person who loves someone else,” Sanders said. “You know, our keg light, our soul beam is pointed at one person and that person is pointing it in a different direction than us … (Chekov) blows it up to the point that it’s passionate, it’s tragic but it’s also funny. (Medvedenko’s) an earnest soul, but no one’s quite interested in him. It’s got these little, ‘Ow!’ these little ‘ouches’ where you’re like ‘Ah if only we could turn that soul glow in the right direction …’ It’s horrible, but it’s also funny.”

Daly says that the style of humor is still familiar to today’s audience.

“Although it was written in the late 1800s … it’s surprisingly modern,” Daly said. “There’s a lot of modern comedy, it’s very self-deprecating and like, ‘Oh we’re all gonna die anyway so I guess we’ll just be miserable together.’ And that’s honestly kind of what Chekov is.”

While the play was written in 1895, making it feel antiquated in some ways, Sanders said Chekov’s brilliance is that he touches on central and universal themes that won’t feel removed to an audience today.

“I mean we all like the girl that doesn’t like us or is not quite as into you as you are into her,” Sanders said. “We’ve all felt tortured by it you know? We’ve all felt self-conscious about not being talented enough or smart enough. It hits ‘em right in that spot, that kind of insecurity of life. And what do I do with my life?”

At the time Chekov wrote “The Seagull” he knew he had tuberculosis and had been sick for years.

“His brother had died from tuberculosis and so I think he knew in a sense that time was running out,” Sanders said. “I think his plays write with that theme at its core that time is running out for these characters and we have to get out the story, get out what we feel, get out our life experience, and so ‘The Seagull’ to me is representative of all those that live in and within us that are yet unfulfilled.”

Sanders said that he’s hired guest artist Chris Beazer to perform all of the original music for the show, and that Beazer has written additional music for this production.

Sanders said he’s also hired Spokane actor Patrick Treadway for the performance to play Sorin.  

“He’s an incredible actor,” Sanders said. “To have the students work with him and learn from him has been really positive.”

While “The Seagull” is a difficult production according to Sanders, he wouldn’t have attempted it without confidence in his performers.  

“I really feel as a student cast I have probably, in my opinion, the strongest student cast I’ve had in my tenure here at Eastern,” Sanders said. “I have a group of students that are extraordinarily talented. I actually wouldn’t have done this play if I didn’t feel like I had a really wealthy base of talent.”

Performances of “The Seagull” will be March 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., March 10 at 2 p.m. and March 14 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10, cash or check only, at the door and free for EWU students with a valid student ID. Tickets can be reserved by calling 509-359-2459.

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Anton Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ flies into the EWU theatre