All Female, Gender-Queer Ensemble Amplifies Subtext of Chekhov’s 1895 “The Seagull” at Mass MoCA

Secret Notebooks from Half Straddle on Vimeo.

North Adams, MA – If you want a taste of pure creativity, take a look at the recent Half Straddle creation above. It is both frothy fun, and deeply ironic. You have to see this company in action to appreciate its novel gifts. Especially when they attack a timeless work like the 1895 Chekhov play, The Seagull.

Being presented as the culmination of a technical residency at MASS MoCA, this unique contemporary theatre company is staging a new interpretation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, The Seagull, in the Hunter Center on Saturday, December 15, at 7:30 PM. Time Out New York has described Half Straddle as “full to the brim with killer talent” and honored the company as an “Off-Off Broadway Innovator to Watch.”

Anton Chekhov wrote The Seagull in 1895 and it was first produced a year later. It tells the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin. As is the case with Chekhov’s other full-length plays, The Seagull relies upon an ensemble cast of diverse, fully developed characters who speak in ways that skirt around issues rather than addressing them directly. Their lines are full of subtext, text that is not spoken aloud.

Becca Blackwell (Center) and two more company members. Photo by Michael De Angelis

At MASS MoCA, Half Straddle partners with Performance Space 122, the famed elementary-school-turned-performing-arts-space in the East Village, to present Director Tina Satter’s theatrical rethinking of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Satter draws from varying The Seagull translations, Chekhov’s letters, quasi-biographical facts from early productions of the play in Russia, and a new Russian folk-metal score composed by Chris Giarmo to tell the classic story of a two female and two male ensemble of conflicted characters. Seagull (Thinking of you) features an all-female and gender-queer ensemble of performance artists and highlights Chekhov’s perverse sense of comedy to invite audiences to consider anew what makes the human heart beat and why people ever try to say anything aloud.

Despite its youth, the New York City-based Half Straddle Company has earned critical acclaim for its fresh, articulate voice. Director Tina Satter leads the collaborative company which writes and directs plays, performances, videos, and music. The company’s shows feature original text, music, and frameworks that slyly deconstruct the preconceived. The New York Times raves, “If you think deconstructionist, experimental theater must be dry and dreary, then Half Straddle has a surprise for you.”

The talented cast of Seagull (Thinking of you) takes the Hunter Center stage on Saturday, December 15, at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $14. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located off Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11 AM until 5 PM (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.

About Mass MoCA

MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501(c)(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.

One thought on “All Female, Gender-Queer Ensemble Amplifies Subtext of Chekhov’s 1895 “The Seagull” at Mass MoCA

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