The Seagull is perhaps one of Anton Chekhov’s most famous plays. Set in the Russian countryside, the play follows an actress past her prime and her son, who dreams of being a playwright and of finding love. In this play Chekhov does what Chekhov does best: diving into the fundamental human experience of desire, dreams, and heartache.
So why make it site-specific?
As people with a deep love of theatre, it can be frustrating to leave a dark venue time and again feeling far away from the show, the actors, and the story —and we recognize how alienating "the classics" can be. By adapting Chekhov's play to exist in a more site-specific way, we hope to immerse the audience in the world of the play, ask them to engage with theatre in a kinesthetic and palpable way, and give them agency within the experience. We believe that Chekhov’s themes are universal and hope that, by presenting his play in a fresh way, audiences will find the work engaging, empowering, and accessible.
But you’re doing a workshop first?
Yes, yes we are. The nature of site-specific theatre means that there are a lot of moving parts, often happening at the same time. In order to adapt the script for a non-traditional setting, and to understand how all the components in this story can piece together, we need a few days of pure, uninterrupted exploration and play. Getting to explore the story in real time, on our feet, with a host of professional actors will lay the groundwork for the full scale production in 2020.
We have been given access to the home of our generous collaborators — the internationally recognized director Michael Haney and actress Amy Warner —a beautiful estate west of Minneapolis, located alongside a small lake. The audience will arrive just in time to sit with the characters of our story and watch Konstantin, an aspiring playwright, present his newest play. From there they will move with the characters, both inside and outside the home. Sometimes the audience will split into smaller groups, giving them the opportunity to come together at the end and swap experiences.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES
The bulk of this Kickstarter will go towards paying the artists involved. We believe it’s incredibly important to compensate artists for their time, just as you would any other trained professional. The remaining funds will become the nest egg for future production costs (such as venue fees for donor events, promotional work, script writing, etc.), and help support our efforts to acquire grants for the full scale 2020 production.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
We, Alessandra Bongiardina and William Edson, are both graduates of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program, a nationally recognized actor training program. In our time there we focused extensively on classic works. Will has produced and directed multiple plays, and is a theatre maker with an eye for detail and a love of text. Alessandra has a passion for reinventing older works, and has begun diving into the world of site-specific theatre. She recently worked with We Players in San Francisco on an award-winning production of Julius Caesar.
During our time in training, we had the opportunity to work with local director and theatre maker Markell Kiefer, Executive Artistic Director of TigerLion Arts. TigerLion is a Minneapolis-based production company celebrating human wisdom and the spirit of nature through creative works that awaken, inform and delight. Markell leads the company with local actor Tyson Forbes. Their seasoned experience as pioneers of site-specific theatre will help guide this production. TigerLion is the perfect collaborating partner to oversee our production and support us as we bring this play to life!
Risks and challenges
Putting on a play is always a large task that requires a lot of hard work, and there is an added layer of complexity that comes with a site-specific piece. We’re asking people to invest in an idea that excites us. An idea that we believe, with the right support and resources, can reinvent a classic play into a fresh and engaging experience for our audience members.
An equally large task is committing to pay everyone involved for their time and effort, something that is too often overlooked in the theatre industry. We seek to produce a professional production, and that means compensating trained professionals accordingly! It means working harder to raise the necessary funds to pay our artists what they deserve.
We appreciate anything that you can contribute to help us bring this project to fruition. Help us work to develop this classic play into something new and accessible!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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