The Seagull

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Chekhov, first performed in 1896 at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, where the first night proved a famous disaster. One critic wrote, "We have not been present for a long time at so complete a failure." Chekhov had tried to introduce naturalistic acting, but admitted that the audience showed "a strained state of boredom and confusion". However, when The Seagull was revived in 1898 at the Moscow Art Theatre under Stanislavsky's watchful direction, it was an enormous success, establishing Chekhov's reputation as a serious playwright. In London, the play ran for 109 performances in 1936 at the New Theatre. Therehave neen numerous English-language revivals, including a 2007 production starring Mackenzie Crook and Kristin Scott Thomas.

    The plot centres on the ageing actress Madame Arkadina, her neuroticson Konstantin, an unsuccessful playwright, and Nina, the daughter of a wealthy landowner. As a sign of his love for her, Konstantin shoots a seagull and places it at Nina's feet: her reaction is one of horror and confusion.Nina proceeds to fall for Boris Trigorin, the famous author who is also Arkadina's lover, and resolves to run away with him and follow a career as an actress. Years later Nina unexpectedly returns to see Konstatin: he learnsthat her affair with Trigorin is over, their baby is dead, and her career asan actress has failed. When Nina goes on to reveal that she still loves Trigorindespite everything, Konstantin shoots himself.

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