Chekhov: The Seagull
Chayka (1896) is the first of Anton Chekhov’s four celebrated plays. While its first performance was a fiasco, the play was revived in 1898 and staged by the newly founded Moscow Art Theatre, who ‘adopted’ Chekhov and built their own success on masterly performances of his plays, beginning with The Seagull. Produced by Nemirovich-Danchenko, with Konstantin Stanislavsky as Trigorin and Meyerhold as Treplev, it was a triumph for both the Theatre and the playwright. In this play Chekhov first demonstrated his innovatory technique of indirect action and new dramatic structure and his skill in creating atmosphere on the stage and portraying subtle shifts in human relationships. Treplev’s modernist-symbolist play-within-the-play is only one of The Seagull’s links with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Chekhov’s ‘comedy’ is firmly established as one of the great classics of twentieth-century European drama.
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