I Am a Seagull: v.V

The cast of The Seagull, Act I (photo by A. Goodman)

We had our first previews of The Seagull at The Antaeus Company last week – which means we had our very first audiences! For weeks we have been rehearsing for our fellow actors, director, designers and occasionally our artistic directors. Last Thursday night was the first night in front of an audience of fresh eyes. And these eyes were seriously fresh – aka young. The seats of the Deaf West Theatre were packed with students from Louis Fantasia’s class at the New York Film Academy.

The students appeared to be in their late teens to early 20s – the same age as Nina and Konstantin in our play. Many of these students were working on Nina/Kostya scenes in class and had a lot of questions for us. One of the young women in the audience asked me at the talk-back,

Jules Willcox, Act IV (photo by Alexandra Goodman)

“How do you prepare for Act 4?”

This is a tough question to answer in only a few minutes. Two years pass by between Acts 3 and 4. These aren’t easy-breezy years for any of the characters, least of all for the character I play – Nina. I won’t add any spoilers to this post, but I will let you know that Nina undergoes a major psychological and physical transformation in those 2 years. I let them in on some of the things I work on when prepping for that scene – dealing with the circumstances, sensory work and the moment before. I also explained that everybody’s process is so different and personal – that what works for me may not work for them. The biggest thing I’ve realized while working with 2 casts is that Chekhov gives us so many hints, obstacles and rich circumstances but the character isn’t real until it is inhabited by an actor. Each actor that takes on a role in “The Seagull” brings something different, so each performance becomes a whole new play.

I recommend playing this while reading the next bit:
Tchaikovsky – Op. 39 No. 15 Italian Song (Act II – Piano by John Allee)

Avery Clyde & Patrick Wenk-Wolff (photo by A. Goodman)

As the Samovar cast trickled into the theater on Thursday night, you could sense them all slipping into character. The effervescent Avery Clyde (Masha) puts on something black and broods to tunes on her iPhone. Patrick Wenk-Wolff (Medvedenko) rattles off random facts about the Death Star. Gigi Bermingham (Arkadina) gives me a compliment about my costume and follows it up with a quote from the play and a wink (“But we don’t want to spoil her”).

Adrian LaTourelle & Gigi Bermingham (photo by A. Goodman)

Adrian LaTourelle (Trigorin) in turn, compliments the lovely Gigi. John Achorn (Shamrayev) presides over the library. Joe Delafield (Treplev) messes up his hair and immediately looks like a petulant teenager. Gregory Itzin (Sorin) simply picks up a cane and his whole physicality changes. James Sutorius (Dorn) turns up the charm (he goes to 11). Reba Waters (Paulina) sigh deeply as she gazes on our prop flowers.

“The Seagull” opens tomorrow March 1 at 8pm.

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

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