Anton Chekhov’s “Seagull” premiers atnew theatre at the University of Dallas

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Benjamin Thomas rehearsing for Chekhov’s “Seagull”, which opens this Wednesday. Photo by Henry Gramling.

Today, Wednesday, Oct. 25, Anton Chekhov’s “Seagull” premiers at the University of Dallas. The play is a production of the UD Drama Department and directed by Kyle Lemieux, associate professor of drama. The play will run through Nov. 4.

“Seagull” will be the first production presented in the new theatre inside the Drama Building. Designed by Mark Kirk, technical director and set designer for “Seagull,” the theatre is a modified thrust with audience seating on three sides.

“I think [audiences] are going to be really stunned with the work Mark has done in that space,” said Lemieux.

Lemieux picked “Seagull” because it is a play that speaks to young people as they look to find their purpose in life.

“What I love about [Chekhov] as a writer is the way in which he speaks so immediately and directly to the fundamental questions that we engage with as humans, both with each other but also importantly with ourselves,” said Lemieux. “‘Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? How am I to live?’ These are the exact questions Chekhov characters are wrestling with in the ‘Seagull.’ The play begins and we find several of the characters at these moments of transition in their lives where they feel a call to a vocation – in this case, art, and they feel compelled to pursue that.”

Martin Sanchez, resident costume designer and shop manager, agrees that UD is the perfect place to put on “Seagull.”

“I think that the university chooses to have this great intersection of history and having a dialogue between our present being informed by the past,” Sanchez said.

The dialogue between the present and the past is made present through the pacing of the play.

“There are four acts in the play. Acts I, II, and III happen pretty consecutively, within the span of a two to three week time period. There’s a very fast-moving nature to it,” said Sanchez. “Act IV happens two years later when the repercussions of their actions have caught up with them.”

Because of the importance of the questions Chekhov asks, great care is taken during the rehearsal process.

“When rehearsals start, we start with table work first,” said Chloe Shearer, junior psychology major and production stage manager. “The director introduces the world to the actors and each actor gets to realize more about what their character is and who they are in that world and how they relate to all the other characters either in age, in status, etc.”

Because understanding each character is important, table work continues for about two weeks before blocking – determining the movement of each scene – begins.

“There is no [one] protagonist. In this plot, there are several protagonists,” Lemieux said. “It’s a very nontraditional play so the students have an opportunity to see a play that’s actually structured quite differently.”

Emily Phillips, sophomore history and philosophy major and assistant stage manager, commented on the nature of these multiple protagonists. “They’re almost immature. They’re childish in this sort of sense. They haven’t completed themselves,” she said. “I think their failure to develop […] is reflective of our own kind of failures.”

This production of “Seagull” is intended to be a unique experience only the UD Drama Department could put on.

“The nature of theater is [that] it can never be recreated,” said Sanchez. “The show that the Drama Department is going to be presenting to the university will never ever, ever [be] created and never could be recreated.”

Admission to “Seagull” is free for UD students, faculty, staff, alumni and non-UD students. General admission is ten dollars. Tickets are available at udallas.edu/ drama.

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