I Am a Seagull: v. II

The Cast of The Seagull (Abby Wilde as Nina)

Today we begin week 3 of rehearsals for The Seagull @ Antaeus Theatre Company. As I mentioned last week, our company is comprised of working actors….so, I’m a few days delayed with this post because I’ve been shooting a vampire movie. Nope, I didn’t get to don fangs, but I DID get to do my best Count von Count impression from Sesame Street.

When I was on set I had the following interaction:

“What’s that play you are working on?” 

Me: “The Seagull – it’s a play by Anton Chekhov.”

Response: “Cool.” Yeah – cool period, not cool a bazillion exclamation points as I’d hoped.

“Why are you working on such an old play?” 

It’s funny how easily I forget that most people in LA are not entrenched in the classical theatre world. Hmm – what’s the best way to answer this question?

“Well…as an actor it stretches you to work on masterpieces…” and something about “universal truths”…yadayadayada…

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked about working on classic plays, so I figured I wasn’t alone. If you are wondering why the heck we are doing The Seagull in Tinseltown, check out what a few of my castmates have to say:

Foxworth and Achorn in The Malcontent

Bo Foxworth, who plays one of our Trigorins, had this to say about The Seagull:

“Is it much different from what audiences are drawn to everyday in their living room? Audiences today, particularly here in Los Angeles, centered as we are in the entertainment industry, can relate to the ego-centric actress striving to remain young and relevant.  The famous writer who has been pigeon-holed by his public and desires to write something meaningful and relevant.  The starry eyed young wanna-be actress that might do anything to be famous.  The struggling young writer searching for his voice. Take an ensemble of beautifully realized characters and mix in love and unrequited love, their struggles and quarreling and the humor and absurdity that sprouts from it, and you have the makings of a Hollywood reality show.”

John Achorn, one of our Shamrayevs, gives us his personal feeling on performing Chekhov:

“Chekhov provides me with the opportunity to explore layer upon layer of character.  What appears to be one thing motivating him is often contradicted partially in actions given in other scenes.  I relish the chance to explore the multiple facets of what seems to be a simple character.”

Finally, Micheal McShane, who plays Sorin, weighs in on the difference

McShane in Cousin Bette (w/ Alicia Wollerton)

between working in Film/TV and theatre:

Live theatre is visceral because there are fewer filters between you and your audience, and combining all the elements (light, sound, blocking) into a cohesive moment is a vindication of your experience and ensemble is a fortifying ritual. I’d rather watch six actors create a War Horse in front of me, than marvel at an animatronic War Horse. Don’t get me wrong though; the artists pulling cable and running eye movement for the War Horse in the close ups are gifted, skilled and employ the same sensitivities; but I’ll bet you a bowl of chili that they learned it in the theatre.”

You’ve heard it from a few of us, but we want to hear from you. Tell us why YOU think classical theatre  is relevant or why you love to see/work on Chekhov, just click “leave a comment” below and share your thoughts!

Antaeus Member, Jules Willcox, shares her experiences working on our production of The Seagull. This is the second installment. Tickets now on sale at  www.antaeus.org

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