by Alyse Diamantides / copy editor
If you go…
WHAT: Anton Chekhov’s, “The Seagull”
WHERE: Callan Studio Theatre, Sullivan Building
WHEN: Dec. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 8-10 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
INFO: Tickets: $15 general/ $10 students & seniors/ Free for SSU students with student ID
Love, beauty and nature. These surround us everyday, but we forget to notice them at times. The upcoming production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” at Salem State’s Callan Theatre will help you see the beautiful things in life again.
“It’s a play with lots of love…and it’s really quite beautiful,” said director William Cunningham, a Salem State professor. “Chekhov is one of the great playwrights and he offers challenges to our students and our audience.”
The play’s set in a small Russian town by a lake and tells the story of a young man who’s dreaming of becoming a successful writer. And he’s in love with a young actress. But “everybody is in love with the wrong person,” Cunningham said, which brings out the humor in the piece. The young man’s also trying to win the love of his mother, who’s a successful actress.
“Seagulls are free to fly and go wherever they want,” the director added. The young actress “wants to be free like a seagull…but she fails to see how common seagulls are.”
“One moment you laugh, and one moment your heart breaks for them,” he said. You’ll be able to recognize yourself in these characters, but there’s a warmth and coldness to each scene, just like life.
“He’s a challenging playwright,” Cunningham said. “You’re trying to put real life on stage and that’s always a challenge.” This play makes you face your hopes and dreams and even your own foolishness. “It’s hard for actors and everyone to come face to face with themselves.”
This is hard even for the senior actors because, “everybody has to open their heart and it’s hard to get people to open their hearts,” the director noted. But he likes plays that have a heart and soul because when a heart breaks, it reminds people that they have one.
There’s a risk involved with falling in love. “Everybody’s so afraid to get their heart broken that they don’t live life fully.”
But many people forget that Chekov was also a doctor. “These plays are little prescriptions for us on how to live life,” Cunningham explained and went on to say how the great playwright encourages us to live fully in the moment. We forget to “see the beauty that’s right in front of us” because we get caught up with trivial matters throughout our day. With recent events, it’s especially time to “reconnect to the things that matter most.”
Chekhov wrote this over a hundred years ago, but the message still holds true. “He knew about the limits of time,” Cunningham said and the idea that life is precious. And we need to remind ourselves of that.