Grand Prix of the International Theatre Festival WHITE TOWER in Brest (Byelorus)
The outdoor show based on the play by Anton Chekhov The Seagull
Script and directed Yaroslav Fedoryshyn
Set and costumes Alla Fedoryshyna, light director Krzysztof Dubiel, sound Sergiy Kondratovych, video projection Andrij Kogut
Cast: Nataliya Marchak, Nataliya Lukashonok / Olena Bilous, Galina Strychak, Petro Mykytiuk, Volodymir Gubanov, Volodymir Chukhonkin, Taras Yurychko, Oleksandr Chekmarov, Evgeniy Petrov, Yaroslav Korniychuk, Yuriy Shorobura
After the success of the open-air performance «The Cherry Orchard», due to the masterpiece of Anton Chekhov, Voskresinnia’s theatre produced the show which is based on the literary declaration of the genius writer – after one of the most poignant and touching biographies presented in the drama «The Seagull» (premiere in 1896). «The Seagull» apparently tells about a boy, whose whole series of writers’ and love stories lead to suicide. But actually the play is a comedy about the passing of time, youth, and idealism, which are sarcasticized by age and experience. It is not shown directly at Chekhov. The behavior of the persons is flexible and indeterminate. The motive for action is a bit spread in the size of phenomena, which accompany man’s fate. The scenes depicted from the life of the country make the atmosphere a bit nostalgic. Keeping the atmosphere of the Chekhov’s world, the director plays with the feelings of the audience, with their fantasies, and directs the audience to Shakespeare and Nekrošius. This is a demonstration of young artists with a very different look for life, older generation who guard their old standpoints, wonderful love, the search for life, also in art. Fireworks, fire and video projections complete the spectacle of the performance.
The idea of the play is to be found in the land of Tsarist Russia at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s. The guests on the farmhouse are bored: they get up with a small side blow and make life hell. The son of the actress Irena Arkadina – Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov wants to become a writer. He wrote the little play, which will perform in the evening on the temporary stage before the guests. The leading role is played by Nina – the beloved and muse of Konstantin. Treplyov always suffers because of the constant criticism of his mother, who doubts his literary talent. Her friend, Boris Alexeyevich Trigorin is also a writer and has already achieved a lot. The mother always appeals to him when she wants to weaken the faith in herself and Konstantin’s work. During the performance of the theater of Treplyov the scandal broke out, between the mother and the son comes to the dispute. It is becoming increasingly evident that Nina has a sympathy for Trigorin, for his charm and success, which can not be achieved at the time Treplyov. When Arkadina and Trigorin return to Moscow, Nina leaves the Treplyov and joins Trigorin to play at his side. Two years have passed and Treplyov becomes a successful writer, but he feels the loneliness. Unexpectedly, Nina appears again. Trigorin is disappointed. As an actress she achieved a small success. She dreams of living in Moscow quite differently. So that she could fulfill her dreams, she suffers a defeat. Still, she does not want to return to Treplyov and leave him again. Treplyov has indeed achieved the dreamed success as a writer, but at the same time suffers the defeat in reality. Konstantin finally manages to shoot himself with the pistol.
The show lasts 60 minutes.
Is the theatre able to show the truth in a different way and where it is inaccessible somewhere else? Does this give insight into the essentials, provides a kind of self-recognition? Are such promises just a usurpation and a humbug? Can others be done in the name of art, because morality does not have to do here and is not to be considered as “the light-darkening”? What is the price to pay for artistic work and whether it is worth it? Is it possible to go outside of the fact that life is difficult and without meaning? Do “new forms” – the transgression of the next aesthetic, social and mental limits – touch a secret? Are they only blaming the accusations of scandalizing and impressing the audience, or in the best case – hermeticism and boredom?
The Seagull proved to be a very comprehensible performance despite so many image and we might say even poetic devices used by its director. But this The Seagull must, probably, be „read” using our hearts and not ours heads. It’s nothing but pure Fedoryshyn’s poetry – at one moment some skeletons of inconceivable animals, spewing green and pink smoke, appear in front of the audience, at the next the fireworks are lit up, then real rockets with salutes burst in the sky and ashes fall on the heads of spectators. The participation effect is, to be honest, incredible. As if you sit in front of Nina who delivers her famous monologue “Men, lions, eagles and partridges…” Here is Nina, wearing white wings – and this is a beautiful tragic scene. But then for some reason Kostya gets white “seagull” wings. Then Trigorin, the darling of fortune, Arkadina and other characters of the play get them too. Fedoryshyn turns them all into birds with a broken wing. “Are all of the characters in your play “seagulls”?” we asked Fedoryshyn. He said, “Yes, we are all “seagulls”, I guess”.
The critics shared the view that Yaroslav Fedoryshyn’s production of the play was a success and the actors of Voskresinnia Theater showed a good postmodern acting. Preserving the atmosphere of Chekhov’s theatre, the director plays upon viewers’ feelings and imagination, referring the audience to Shakespeare and Nekrošius. This play is about young artists with different outlooks on life, about older generation, vigorously protecting their old positions, about unrequired love and search for the meaning of life, including, in the art as well.
“The Seagull” appeared as a very clear idea, although the director has used many ideas, one can even say poetic tricks. But probably such “the gull” should not be “read” with reason, but with the heart. This is a constant poetry of Fedoryshyn – first, a spectator looks at some skeletons of unimaginable animals sputtering with the green and pink smoke, then the fireworks burns and then exploding true rockets crash into the sky and falls directly on the heads of the spectators the ash. The feeling of direct presence, frankly, is eerie
You sit, so to speak, before Nina alone, who holds her monologue “people, lions, eagles and partridges …”. And this is the Nina with white wings – that is beautiful and fine – but at the same time the restlessness provokes. For some reason, further white wings appear at Konstantin . Later – with the darling of Fortuna – with Trigorin, with Arkadina, with other drama heroes. At all! All are Fedoryshyn in birds with broken wings changed. So in your mind are all the seagulls? – we asked Fedoryshyn. “Yes, we are all the seagulls”, hopefully.
The procession of heroes appears before the spectator. They walk around, both at the beginning of the performance and at the end. Such wandering leaves the hero out of the borders, everything begins and ends in a small circle, despite a strong desire of Konstantin and Nina to get out of the circle. Next, we see small children who are dreaming of becoming grown up and great like Arkadina, climbing the summit like Trigorin. However, the real life is far from the dreams
The basis of the performance is a fable of Chekhov’s drama with the same name on the subject of relations between Konstantin Treplyov and Nina Mikhailovna Zariechnaya. The gull is a symbol of a lonely and unhappy bird, who always has to fly around the water screaming. The main heroine Nina Zariechnaya identifies herself with the gull. The road gull is full of opposites. For a while, the heroes bathe and whip each other, and in the next part, the woman walks around the square in mourning in black clothes. In the unusual but perfectly understood Lemmish language, the group has told us about its interpretation of Chekhov’s history. Director Yaroslav Fedoryshyn: I want people to remember that they have wings in them and we should all fly. When the wings are broken, we feel bad. In the performance there are many seagulls … All by nature we are seagulls. Unique music was composed for the performance needs. Chekov is interesting to me because he says, “We all think that everything is in front of us, but it turns out that everything in our lives is already behind us. Life is very short. Often we do not think of it. We have a lot to do”
In the imagination everything is symbolic and there are no nonsensical details: with the help of signatures one describes the state of mind of heroes, together with the fireworks break out the feelings of heroes, music helps a spectator feel the feelings of the heroes. Not only in Nina, but also in Konstantin, and then in Arkadina and other heroes appear the wings. With such a failed life they are also like seagulls. In order to fly high, they need a fire in the spirit – a step to the joyous life and art. Unfortunately the flame is extinguished. It does not even have the opportunity to burn fully. The heroes of the performance extinguish the fire, just as Trigorin wasted the life of Nina Zariechnaya (“… a free and happy girl he has seen and has nothing to do, he has stunted her”). Only Treplyov tries to fight, believes that people need a new theatre, new forms. He distributes the wings, but his efforts remain in vain – the dance with the burnt wings is strange. Is this a symbol of the hope of a fall? There is a lack of the will of work, and that is a crime. And the seagulls, symbols of freedom, practice revenge. Older persons always carry their heavy bags – their living property. They do not want to part with it. But they also do not believe that at the end of the path of life there are only skeletons – debris of human passions and unfulfilled dreams.