For years, Dr. Robert Hubbard of the theatre department has wanted to direct a play by one of Russia’s greatest playwrights of all time; Anton Chekhov. For the past five weeks Northwestern theatre has been preparing Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” “The play survives as one of the most important and transformative plays in the history of drama,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard became inspired to do this play after visiting Romania last spring through NW’s semester study abroad program. His visit inspired him to set the production in this particular eastern European country, specifically in the 1920s, in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains.
“The costumes, scenery, lighting and original music evoke an era of Romanian history known for cultural splendor, a period unscathed by today’s decimating legacy of communism,” said Hubbard. Senior theatre major Ericha Walden designed the costumes to model the clothing of Romanians who lived in the Carpathian Mountains during the 1920s. Jonathan Sabo designed the scenery which includes four settings that are all set next to a lake in the country.
“The Seagull” tells the stories of an animated group of artists, lovers, peasants and bureaucrats who socialize together on the country estate of a famous actress. “From this pastoral setting, Chekhov shakes the foundations of what it means to be an artist, and identifies the all too human failing to pursue love where it is withheld and refuse it where it is freely given,” said Hubbard.
Senior Greta Hays comments, “I play Nina, an aspiring actress and daughter of a wealthy landowner. It’s been a challenging and rewarding process maneuvering through the emotional swings of her character.” The cast also includes Junior Daniel Sikkema, taking the role of Constantine; Sophomore Kylie Steinbach, playing Constantine’s mother Akradina; and Junior Andrew Stam as Akradina’s novelist lover.
“Chekhov’s writing is brilliant, and these tragic characters sometimes have these volcanic emotional outbursts,” said Hays. These volcanic emotional outbursts are foreign to Western culture, which according to Hubbard makes Chekhov’s work a challenge but a joy to explore.
Prior to the show is an artists’ reception, which will be held in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center. The artists’ reception is the Orange City Arts Council’s Regional Exhibition of local artists. The art exhibition supplements the production of Chekhov’s, “The Seagull.”
One of the featured artists is Mark Alsum, a 2009 NW Alum. Alsum was selected to be a part of the Orange City art show through a submission process. He has two pieces in the show, “American Gothic X” and “The Natural Order.” Alsum believes it is the audience’s place to engage what his pieces depict. “I already went through all the work producing the paintings, now it’s time for someone else to wrestle with them,” said Alsum.
Tickets for NW faculty, staff and students are available at no charge. Reservations are required. Please contact email@example.com or 707-7098. Show times are Nov 11-13 and 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Theora England Willcox Theatre. The artists’ reception will be Saturday, Nov. 13, from 6:30 to 7:25 p.m., prior to the performance of “The Seagull.”