The Seagull

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The Seagull
Maly Theatre foto 4.jpg
Maly Theatre production in 2008
Written by Anton Chekhov
Date premiered17 October 1896
Place premiered Alexandrinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
Original languageRussian
SettingSorin's country estate

The Seagull (Russian:Ча́йка, tr. Cháyka) is a play by Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. The Seagull is generally considered to be the first of his four major plays. It dramatizes the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin, the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplev.


Like Chekhov's other full-length plays, The Seagull relies upon an ensemble cast of diverse, fully-developed characters. In contrast to the melodrama of mainstream 19th-century theatre, lurid actions (such as Konstantin's suicide attempts) are not shown onstage. Characters tend to speak in subtext rather than directly. [1] The character Trigorin is considered one of Chekhov's greatest male roles.

The opening night of the first production was a famous failure. Vera Komissarzhevskaya, playing Nina, was so intimidated by the hostility of the audience that she lost her voice. [2] Chekhov left the audience and spent the last two acts behind the scenes. When supporters wrote to him that the production later became a success, he assumed that they were merely trying to be kind. [2] When Konstantin Stanislavski, the seminal Russian theatre practitioner of the time, directed it in 1898 for his Moscow Art Theatre, the play was a triumph. Stanislavski's production became "one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama". [3]

Stanislavski's direction caused The Seagull to be perceived as a tragedy through overzealousness with the concept of subtext, whereas Chekhov intended it to be a comedy.


Guest cottage at Melikhovo where Chekhov wrote The Seagull Melikhovo Cottage 2.jpg
Guest cottage at Melikhovo where Chekhov wrote The Seagull

Chekhov purchased the Melikhovo farm in 1892, and ordered a lodge built in the middle of a cherry orchard. The lodge had three rooms, one containing a bed and another a writing table. Chekhov eventually moved in, and in a letter written in October 1895 he wrote:

I am writing a play which I shall probably not finish before the end of November. I am writing it not without pleasure, though I swear fearfully at the conventions of the stage. It's a comedy, there are three women's parts, six men's, four acts, landscapes (view over a lake); a great deal of conversation about literature, little action, tons of love. [4]

Thus he acknowledged a departure from traditional dramatic action. This departure became a hallmark of Chekhovian theater. Chekhov's statement also reflects his view of the play as a comedy, a view he maintained towards all his plays. After the play's disastrous opening night, his friend Aleksey Suvorin chided him for being "womanish" and accused him of being in "a funk." Chekhov vigorously denied this, stating:

Why this libel? After the performance, I had supper at Romanov's. On my word of honor. Then I went to bed, slept soundly, and the next day went home without uttering a sound of complaint. If I had been in a funk I should have run from editor to editor and actor to actor, should have nervously entreated them to be considerate, should nervously have inserted useless corrections, and should have spent two or three weeks in Petersburg fussing over my Seagull, in excitement, in a cold perspiration, in lamentation... I acted as coldly and reasonably as a man who has made an offer, received a refusal, and has nothing left but to go. Yes, my vanity was stung, but you know it was not a bolt from the blue; I was expecting a failure and was prepared for it, as I warned you with perfect sincerity beforehand.

And a month later:

I thought that if I had written and put on the stage a play so obviously brimming over with monstrous defects, I had lost all instinct and that, therefore, my machinery must have gone wrong for good.

The eventual success of the play, both in the remainder of its first run and in the subsequent staging by the Moscow Art Theatre under Stanislavski, encouraged Chekhov to remain a playwright and led to the overwhelming success of his next endeavor, Uncle Vanya , and indeed to the rest of his dramatic work.


The English title for the play The Seagull is a potentially misleading translation of the title from its original Russian. Although the words "gull" and "seagull" are often used interchangeably in English, the text of the play makes no mention of the sea and is set on an estate somewhere in the inland regions of central Russia or Ukraine. The titular gull in question was likely meant by Chekov to be a black-headed gull or common gull. A more exact translation of the title would thus be The Gull, as the word "seagull" could erroneously evoke maritime connotations when no such imagery was intended by the playwright.


Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company. Chekhov reads (centre), on Chekhov's right, Konstantin Stanislavski is seated, and next to him, Olga Knipper. Stanislavski's wife, Maria Lilina, is seated to Chekhov's left. On the far right side of the photograph, Vsevolod Meyerhold is seated. Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko stands in the far left side of the photograph. Anton Chekhov reads The Seagull.jpg
Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company. Chekhov reads (centre), on Chekhov's right, Konstantin Stanislavski is seated, and next to him, Olga Knipper. Stanislavski's wife, Maria Lilina, is seated to Chekhov's left. On the far right side of the photograph, Vsevolod Meyerhold is seated. Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko stands in the far left side of the photograph.


Act I

Pyotr Sorin is a retired senior civil servant in failing health at his country estate. His sister, actress Irina Arkadina, arrives at the estate for a brief vacation with her lover, the writer Boris Trigorin. Pyotr and his guests gather at an outdoor stage to see an unconventional play that Irina's son, Konstantin Treplev, has written and directed. The play-within-a-play features Nina Zarechnaya, a young woman who lives on a neighboring estate, as the "soul of the world" in a time far in the future. The play is Konstantin's latest attempt at creating a new theatrical form. It is a dense symbolist work. Irina laughs at the play, finding it ridiculous and incomprehensible; the performance ends prematurely after audience interruption and Konstantin storms off in humiliation. Irina does not seem concerned about her son, who has not found his way in the world. Although others ridicule Konstantin's drama, the physician Yevgeny Dorn praises him.

Act I also sets up the play's various romantic triangles. The schoolteacher Semyon Medvedenko loves Masha, the daughter of the estate's steward Ilya Shamrayev and his wife Polina Andryevna. However, Masha is in love with Konstantin, who is in love with Nina, but Nina falls for Trigorin. Polina is in an affair with Yevgeny. When Masha tells Yevgeny about her longing for Konstantin, Yevgeny helplessly blames the lake for making everybody feel romantic.

Act II

A few days later, in the afternoon, characters are outside the estate. Arkadina, after reminiscing about happier times, engages in a heated argument with the house steward Shamrayev and decides to leave. Nina lingers behind after the group leaves, and Konstantin arrives to give her a gull that he has shot. Nina is confused and horrified at the gift. Konstantin sees Trigorin approaching and leaves in a jealous fit.

Nina asks Trigorin to tell her about the writer's life; he replies that it is not an easy one. Nina says that she knows the life of an actress is not easy either, but she wants more than anything to be one. Trigorin sees the gull that Konstantin has shot and muses on how he could use it as a subject for a short story: "The plot for the short story: a young girl lives all her life on the shore of a lake. She loves the lake, like a gull, and she's happy and free, like a gull. But a man arrives by chance, and when he sees her, he destroys her, out of sheer boredom. Like this gull." Arkadina calls for Trigorin, and he leaves as she tells him that she has changed her mind – they will be leaving immediately. Nina lingers behind, enthralled with Trigorin's celebrity and modesty, and gushes, "My dream!"


Inside the estate, Arkadina and Trigorin have decided to depart. Between acts Konstantin attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head, but the bullet only grazed his skull. He spends the majority of Act III with his scalp heavily bandaged.

Nina finds Trigorin eating breakfast and presents him with a medallion that proclaims her devotion to him, using a line from one of Trigorin's own books: "If you ever need my life, come and take it." She retreats after begging for one last chance to see Trigorin before he leaves. Arkadina appears, followed by Sorin, whose health has continued to deteriorate. Trigorin leaves to continue packing. After a brief argument between Arkadina and Sorin, Sorin collapses in grief. He is helped off by Medvedenko. Konstantin enters and asks his mother to change his bandage. As she is doing this, Konstantin disparages Trigorin, eliciting another argument. When Trigorin reenters, Konstantin leaves in tears.

Trigorin asks Arkadina if they can stay at the estate. She flatters and cajoles him until he agrees to return with her to Moscow. After she has left the room, Nina comes to say her final goodbye to Trigorin and to inform him that she is running away to become an actress against her parents' wishes. They kiss passionately and make plans to meet again in Moscow.

Act IV

It is winter two years later, in the drawing room that has been converted to Konstantin's study. Masha finally accepted Medvedenko's marriage proposal, and they have a child together, though Masha still nurses an unrequited love for Konstantin. Various characters discuss what has happened in the two years that have passed: Nina and Trigorin lived together in Moscow for a time until he abandoned her and went back to Arkadina. Nina gave birth to Trigorin's baby, but it died in a short time. Nina never achieved any real success as an actress, and she is currently on a tour of the provinces with a small theatre group. Konstantin has had some short stories published, but he is increasingly depressed. Sorin's health is still failing, and the people at the estate have telegraphed for Arkadina to come for his final days.

Most of the play's characters go to the drawing room to play a game of bingo. Konstantin does not join them, instead working on a manuscript at his desk. After the group leaves to eat dinner, Konstantin hears someone at the back door. He is surprised to find Nina, whom he invites inside. Nina tells Konstantin about her life over the last two years. Konstantin says that he followed Nina. She starts to compare herself to the gull that Konstantin killed in Act II, then rejects that and says "I am an actress." She tells him that she was forced to tour with a second-rate theatre company after the death of the child she had with Trigorin, but she seems to have a newfound confidence. Konstantin pleads with her to stay, but she is in such disarray that his pleading means nothing. She embraces Konstantin, and leaves. Despondent, Konstantin spends two minutes silently tearing up his manuscripts before leaving the study.

The group reenters and returns to the bingo game. There is a sudden gunshot from off-stage, and Dorn goes to investigate. He returns and takes Trigorin aside. Dorn tells Trigorin to somehow get Arkadina away, for Konstantin has just shot himself.

Performance history

Premiere in St. Petersburg

The first night of The Seagull on 17 October 1896 at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Petersburg was a disaster, booed by the audience. The hostile audience intimidated Vera Komissarzhevskaya so severely that she lost her voice. Some considered her the best actor in Russia who, according to Chekhov, had moved people to tears as Nina in rehearsal. [2] The next day, Chekhov, who had taken refuge backstage for the last two acts, announced to Suvorin that he was finished with writing plays. [5] When supporters assured him that later performances were more successful, Chekhov assumed they were just being kind. The Seagull impressed the playwright and friend of Chekhov Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, however, who said Chekhov should have won the Griboyedov prize that year for The Seagull instead of himself. [6]

Studio portrait of Stanislavski as Trigorin from the 1898 Moscow Art Theatre production Stanislavski Seagull.jpg
Studio portrait of Stanislavski as Trigorin from the 1898 Moscow Art Theatre production

Moscow Art Theatre production

Nemirovich overcame Chekhov's refusal to allow the play to appear in Moscow and convinced Stanislavski to direct the play for their innovative and newly founded Moscow Art Theatre in 1898. [8] Stanislavski prepared a detailed directorial score, which indicated when the actors should "wipe away dribble, blow their noses, smack their lips, wipe away sweat, or clean their teeth and nails with matchsticks", as well as organising a tight control of the overall mise en scène . [9] This approach was intended to facilitate the unified expression of the inner action that Stanislavski perceived to be hidden beneath the surface of the play in its subtext. [10] Stanislavski's directorial score was published in 1938. [11]

Stanislavski played Trigorin, while Vsevolod Meyerhold, the future director and practitioner (whom Stanislavski on his death-bed declared to be "my sole heir in the theatre"), played Konstantin, and Olga Knipper (Chekhov's future wife) played Arkadina. [12] The production opened on 17 December 1898 with a sense of crisis in the air in the theatre; most of the actors were mildly self-tranquilised with Valerian drops. [13] In a letter to Chekhov, one audience member described how:

In the first act something special started, if you can so describe a mood of excitement in the audience that seemed to grow and grow. Most people walked through the auditorium and corridors with strange faces, looking as if it were their birthday and, indeed, (dear God I'm not joking) it was perfectly possible to go up to some completely strange woman and say: "What a play? Eh?" [14]

Nemirovich-Danchenko described the applause, which came after a prolonged silence, as bursting from the audience like a dam breaking. [15] The production received unanimous praise from the press. [15]

It was not until 1 May 1899 that Chekhov saw the production, in a performance without sets but in make-up and costumes at the Paradiz Theatre. [16] He praised the production but was less keen on Stanislavski's own performance; he objected to the "soft, weak-willed tone" in his interpretation (shared by Nemirovich) of Trigorin and entreated Nemirovich to "put some spunk into him or something". [17] He proposed that the play be published with Stanislavski's score of the production's mise en scène . [18] Chekhov's collaboration with Stanislavski proved crucial to the creative development of both men. Stanislavski's attention to psychological realism and ensemble playing coaxed the buried subtleties from the play and revived Chekhov's interest in writing for the stage. Chekhov's unwillingness to explain or expand on the script forced Stanislavski to dig beneath the surface of the text in ways that were new in theatre. [19] The Moscow Art Theatre to this day bears the seagull as its emblem to commemorate the historic production that gave it its identity. [20]

2001 Public Theatre

The Joseph Papp Public Theater presented Chekhov's play as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival summer season in Central Park from July 25, 2001 to August 26, 2001. The production, directed by Mike Nichols, starred Meryl Streep as Arkadina, Christopher Walken as Sorin, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Treplyov, John Goodman as Shamrayev, Marcia Gay Harden as Masha, Kevin Kline as Trigorin, Debra Monk as Polina, Stephen Spinella as Medvedenko, and Natalie Portman as Nina.

Other notable productions

Uta Hagen made her Broadway debut as Nina, at the age of 18, in a production with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in 1938 at the Shubert Theatre.

In November 1992, a Broadway staging directed by Marshall W. Mason opened at Lyceum Theatre, New York. The production starred Tyne Daly as Arkadina, Ethan Hawke as Treplyov, Jon Voight as Trigorin, and Laura Linney as Nina. In 1998, a production by Daniela Thomas, assisted by Luiz Päetow, toured Brazil under the title Da Gaivota, with Fernanda Montenegro as Arkadina, Matheus Nachtergaele as Treplyov, and Fernanda Torres as Nina. [21]

In early 2007, the Royal Court Theatre staged a production of The Seagull starring Kristin Scott Thomas as Arkadina, Mackenzie Crook as Treplyov and Carey Mulligan as Nina. It also featured Chiwetel Ejiofor and Art Malik. The production was directed by Ian Rickson, and received positive reviews, including The Metro Newspaper calling it "practically perfect". It ran from January 18 to March 17, and Scott Thomas won an Olivier Award for her performance.

In 2007/2008, a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company toured internationally before coming into residence at the West End's New London Theatre until 12 January 2008. It starred William Gaunt and Ian McKellen as Sorin (who alternated with William Gaunt in the role, as McKellen also played the title role in King Lear ), Richard Goulding as Treplyov, Frances Barber as Arkadina, Jonathan Hyde as Dorn, Monica Dolan as Masha, and Romola Garai as Nina. Garai in particular received rave reviews, The Independent calling her a "woman on the edge of stardom", [22] and the London Evening Standard calling her "superlative", and stating that the play was "distinguished by the illuminating, psychological insights of Miss Garai's performance." [23]

The Classic Stage Company in New York City revived the work on 13 March 2008 in a production of Paul Schmidt's translation directed by Viacheslav Dolgachev. This production was notable for the casting of Dianne Wiest in the role of Arkadina, and Alan Cumming as Trigorin.

On 16 September 2008, the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway began previews of Ian Rickson's production of The Seagull with Kristin Scott Thomas reprising her role as Arkadina. The cast also included Peter Sarsgaard as Trigorin, Mackenzie Crook as Treplyov, Art Malik as Dorn, Carey Mulligan as Nina, Zoe Kazan as Masha, and Ann Dowd as Polina. [24]

In 2011, a new version directed by Golden Mask winner Yuri Butusov debuted at Konstantin Raikin's Satyricon theater, notable for its return to comedy and "Brechtian-style techniques." [25] In 2017 and in coordination with Butusov, a production was filmed and subtitled in English by the Stage Russia project.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival staged Seagull in the New Theatre from 22 February until 22 June 2012, adapted and directed by Libby Appel. [26] [27]

In 2014, a translation into Afrikaans under the title Die seemeeu, directed by Christiaan Olwagen and starring Sandra Prinsloo, was staged at the Aardklop arts festival in Potchefstroom. [28]

In October 2014, it was announced that the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre would present a new version of The Seagull by Torben Betts in 2015. [29] The play opened on 19 June 2015 and received critical acclaim for its design by Jon Bausor and the new adaptation by Betts. [30]

In January 2015, Toronto's Crow's Theatre produced The Seagull in association with Canadian Stage and The Company Theatre. Helmed by Crow's Theatre's Artistic Director Chris Abraham, the creative team was composed of set and costume designer Julie Fox, lighting designer Kimberly Purtell and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne. [31] The Robert Falls adaptation, based on a translation by George Calderon, featured an all-star Canadian cast:

In March 2015, Hurrah Hurrah and the Hot Blooded Theatre Company presented The Seagull in an unused shop-front with the help of The Rocks Pop-up. [33]

In 2016, Thomas Ostermeier, director of Berlin's Schaubühne theatre, directed The Seagull at the Théâtre de Vidy  [ fr ], Lausanne. [34]

In 2017, a new version by Simon Stephens was staged at the Lyric Hammersmith in London, starring Lesley Sharp as Irina.

In 2020, Anya Reiss's adaptation of The Seagull began previews on 11 March in the Playhouse Theatre, starring Emilia Clarke as Nina and Indira Varma as Irina. [35] The production was suspended on 16 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but subsequently reopened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in July 2022 and ran until September. [36] [37] Also in 2020, the Auckland Theatre Company presented an on-line production during the COVID-19 lock down, using the device of a Zoom meeting for the stage. It was adapted by Eli Kent and Eleanor Bishop, who also directed it, with rehearsals and performances carried out online. [38] It was well received by critics around the world, with The Scotsman declaring it one of the "best plays to watch online." [39]

In March 2021, the Crane Creations Theatre Company led a play reading with its professional theatre artist team on its monthly Play Date. The Play Date aims to raise awareness and appreciation of playwrights from around the world.

Analysis and criticism

It has been remarked that the play was "a spectacle of waste" (such as at the beginning of the play when Medvedenko asks Masha why she always wears black, she answers "Because I'm in mourning for my life."). [40]

The play also has an intertextual relationship with Shakespeare's Hamlet . [41] Arkadina and Treplyov quote lines from it before the play-within-a-play in the first act (and this device is itself used in Hamlet). There are many allusions to Shakespearean plot details as well. For instance, Treplyov seeks to win his mother back from the usurping older man Trigorin much as Hamlet tries to win Queen Gertrude back from his uncle Claudius.


The Seagull was first translated into English for a performance at the Royalty Theatre, Glasgow, in November 1909. [42] Since that time, there have been numerous translations of the text—between 1998 and 2004 alone there were 25 published versions. [42] In the introduction to his own version, Tom Stoppard wrote: "You can't have too many English Seagulls: at the intersection of all of them, the Russian one will be forever elusive." [43] In fact, the problems start with the title of the play: there's no sea anywhere near the play's settings, so the bird in question was in all likelihood a lake-dwelling gull such as the common gull ( larus canus ), rather than a nautical variant. In Russian both kinds of birds are named chayka, simply meaning "gull", as in English. However, the title persists as it is much more euphonious in English than the much shorter and blunter "The Gull", which comes across as too forceful and direct to represent the encompassing vague and partially hidden feelings beneath the surface. Therefore, the faint reference to the sea has been seen as a more fitting representation of the intent of the play.

Some early translations of The Seagull have come under criticism from modern Russian scholars. Marian Fell's translation, in particular, has been criticized for its elementary mistakes and total ignorance of Russian life and culture. [42] [44] Peter France, translator and author of the book The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, wrote of Chekhov's multiple adaptations:

Proliferation and confusion of translation reign in the plays. Throughout the history of Chekhov on the British and American stages we see a version translated, adapted, cobbled together for each new major production, very often by a theatre director with no knowledge of the original, working from a crib prepared by a Russian with no knowledge of the stage. [45]

Notable English translations

George Calderon1909Glasgow Repertory TheatreThis is the first known English translation of The Seagull. This translation premiered at the Royalty Theatre, Glasgow, on 2 November 1909, also directed by Calderon. [46]
Marian Fell 1912 Charles Scribner's Sons First published English language translation of The Seagull in the United States, performed at the Bandbox Theatre on Broadway by the Washington Square Players in 1916. [47] Complete text from Project Gutenberg here. [48]
Fred Eisemann1913 Poet Lore Appeared in Volume 26, Number 1 (New Year's 1913) of Poet Lore magazine [49] [50]
Constance Garnett 1923 Bantam Books Performed on Broadway at the Civic Repertory Theatre in 1929, [51] directed by Eva Le Gallienne.
Stark Young 1939 Charles Scribner's Sons Used in the 1938 Broadway production starring Uta Hagen as Nina, [52] as well as the 1975 film directed by John Desmond. [53]
Elisaveta Fen1954 Penguin Classics Along with Constance Garnett's translation, this is one of the most widely read translations of The Seagull. [54]
David Magarshack 1956 Hill & Wang Commissioned for the 1956 West End production at the Saville Theatre, directed by Michael Macowan, and starring Diana Wynyard, Lyndon Brook, and Hugh Williams. [55]
Moura Budberg 1968 Sidney Lumet ProductionsCommissioned and used for the 1968 film directed by Sidney Lumet. [56]
Tennessee Williams 1981 New Directions Publishing Williams' "free adaptation" is titled The Notebook of Trigorin . First produced by the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company in 1981, the United States premier occurred at the Cincinnati Playhouse in 1996, starring Lynn Redgrave as Madame Arkadina. Williams was still revising the script when he died in 1983. [57]
Tania Alexander & Charles Sturridge 1985Applause BooksCommissioned and used for the 1985 Oxford Playhouse production directed by Charles Sturridge and Vanessa Redgrave.
Michael Frayn 1988 Methuen Publishing Translated Nina's famous line "I am a seagull," to "I am the seagull," as in the seagull in Trigorin's story. This was justified by Frayn, in part, because of the non-existence of indefinite or definite articles in the Russian language. [58]
Pam Gems 1991 Nick Hern Books
David French 1992 Talonbooks Used in the 1992 Broadway production by the National Actors Theatre at the Lyceum Theatre, directed by Marshall W. Mason and featuring Tyne Daly, Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney, and Jon Voight. [59]
Paul Schmidt 1997 Harper Perennial Used in the 2008 off-Broadway production at the Classic Stage Company, starring Dianne Wiest, Alan Cumming, and Kelli Garner. [60]
Tom Stoppard 1997 Faber and Faber Premiered at the Old Vic theatre in London on 28 April 1997. Its United States premiere in July 2001 in New York City drew crowds who sometimes waited 15 hours for tickets. [61]
Peter Gill 2000Oberon Books
Peter Carson 2002 Penguin Classics
Christopher Hampton 2007 Faber and Faber Used in the Royal Court Theatre's 2008 production of The Seagull at the Walter Kerr Theatre, directed by Ian Rickson and featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mackenzie Crook and Carey Mulligan. [62]
Benedict Andrews 2011 Currency Press Used in the 2011 production at Sydney's Belvoir St Theatre, starring Judy Davis, David Wenham, Emily Barclay, Anita Hegh, Gareth Davies, Dylan Young and Maeve Dermody, adapted for an Australian setting, with minor dialogue changes. [63] [64]
Anya Reiss 2014Premiered at the Southwark Playhouse. [65]
David Hare 2015 Faber and Faber Presented at the Chichester Festival Theatre in tandem with Hare's translations of Platonov and Ivanov . [66]



The American playwright Tennessee Williams adapted the play as The Notebook of Trigorin , which premiered in 1981. That year, Thomas Kilroy's adaptation, The Seagull also premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor wrote an adaptation called His Greatness.

In 2004, American playwright Regina Taylor's African-American adaptation, Drowning Crow, was performed on Broadway.

Emily Mann wrote and directed an adaptation called A Seagull in the Hamptons . The play premiered at the McCarter Theatre May 2008. [67]

Libby Appel did a new version that premiered in 2011 at the Marin Theatre in Mill Valley using newly discovered material from Chekhov's original manuscripts. In pre-Revolutionary Russia, plays underwent censorship from two sources, the government censor and directors. The removed passages were saved in the archives of Russia, and unavailable till the fall of the Iron Curtain. [68]

In 2011, Benedict Andrews re-imagined the work as being set in a modern Australian beach in his production of the play at Sydney's Belvoir Theatre, which starred Judy Davis, David Wenham and Maeve Darmody. He did this to explore the ideas of liminal space and time.

In October 2011, it was announced that a contemporary Hamptons-set film adaptation, Relative Insanity, will be directed by the acting coach Larry Moss, starring David Duchovny, Helen Hunt, Maggie Grace and Joan Chen. [69] [70] [ needs update ]

In 2013, a deconstruction of the play by Aaron Posner, set in the modern day under the title Stupid Fucking Bird , was premiered at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.; it won the 2014 Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical [71] and has been staged widely across American theatres.

In 2014, Takarazuka Revues's Star Troupe performed a musical version of the play, which was adapted and directed by Naoko Koyonagi. It starred Makoto Rei as Konstantin and Mirei Shiroki as Nina. [72]

A 2022 gender fluid adaptation of the Tom Stoppard version was completed by the Doris Place Players to great success in Los Angeles.

In 2022, Emilia Clarke starred in Anya Reiss' adaption in Harold Pinter Theatre in London. It was described as a unique 21st century modernisation. [73]

Thomas Bradshaw wrote a modern day adaptation set in New York's Hudson Valley entitled The Seagull/Woodstock, NY. The play was produced Off-Broadway by The New Group in 2023 and starred Parker Posey, Nat Wolff, Ato Essandoh, and Hari Nef.


Sidney Lumet's 1968 film The Sea Gull used Moura Budberg's translation. The play was also adapted as the Russian film The Seagull in 1972.

The 2003 film La petite Lili from director Claude Miller, starring Ludivine Sagnier as Nina renamed Lili, updates Chekhov's play to contemporary France in the world of the cinema.

Christian Camargo directed a 2014 film adaptation of the play, titled Days and Nights , set in rural New England during the 1980s. The film starred Camargo, William Hurt, Allison Janney, Katie Holmes, Mark Rylance, and Juliet Rylance.

An American film titled The Seagull went into production in 2015. [74] It was released on May 11, 2018, by Sony Pictures Classics; directed by Michael Mayer with a screenplay by Stephen Karam, starring Annette Bening and Saoirse Ronan.

A contemporary Afrikaans-language film adaptation directed by Christiaan Olwagen, titled Die Seemeeu, debuted at the Kyknet Silwerskermfees on 23 August 2018. Cintaine Schutte won the Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of Masha.


The play was the basis for the 1974 opera The Seagull by Thomas Pasatieri to an English libretto by Kenward Elmslie.


The 1987 musical Birds of Paradise by Winnie Holzman and David Evans is a metatheatrical adaptation, both loosely following the original play and containing a musical version of the play as the Konstantin equivalent's play.

In 2015, the play was adapted into Songbird, a country musical by Michael Kimmel and Lauren Pritchard. Songbird sets its story in Nashville and centers around Tammy Trip, a fading country star. Tammy returns to the honky tonk where she got her start to help her estranged son launch his own music career. The show was produced at 59E59 Theaters and featured Kate Baldwin and Erin Dilly. It was recognized as a New York Times Critic's Pick. [75]


It was made into a ballet by John Neumeier with his Hamburg Ballet company in June 2002. This version re-imagined the main characters as coming from the world of dance. Arkadina became a famous prima ballerina, Nina was a young dancer on the brink of her career. Konstantin appeared as a revolutionary young choreographer and Trigorin as an older, more conventional choreographer. [76]

An earlier ballet in two acts, by Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin, was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow in 1980.

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Three Sisters is a play by the Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov. It was written in 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre. The play is often included on the shortlist of Chekhov's outstanding plays, along with The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

<i>The Notebook of Trigorin</i>

The Notebook of Trigorin is a play by American playwright Tennessee Williams, adapted from Anton Chekhov's drama The Seagull (1895). Williams based his adaptation primarily on Ann Dunnigan's 1960 translation.

<i>The Cherry Orchard</i> Play by Anton Chekhov

The Cherry Orchard is the last play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Written in 1903, it was first published by Znaniye, and came out as a separate edition later that year in Saint Petersburg, via A.F. Marks Publishers. On the 17th of January, 1904, it opened at the Moscow Art Theatre in a production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski. Chekhov described the play as a comedy, with some elements of farce, though Stanislavski treated it as a tragedy. Since its first production, directors have contended with its dual nature. It is often identified as one of the three or four outstanding plays by Chekhov, along with The Seagull, Three Sisters, and Uncle Vanya.

<i>The Living Corpse</i> Play by Leo Tolstoy

The Living Corpse is a Russian play by Leo Tolstoy. Although written around 1900, it was only published shortly after his death—Tolstoy had never considered the work finished. An immediate success, it is still performed. Arthur Hopkins produced its Broadway premiere in 1918 under the title Redemption, starring John Barrymore.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olga Knipper</span> Russian and Soviet stage actress

Olga Leonardovna Knipper-Chekhova was a Russian and Soviet stage actress. She was married to Anton Chekhov.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moscow Art Theatre</span> Theatre company

The Moscow Art Theatre (or MAT; Russian: Московский Художественный академический театр, Moskovskiy Hudojestvenny Akademicheskiy Teatr was a theatre company in Moscow. It was founded in 1898 by the seminal Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski, together with the playwright and director Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. It was conceived as a venue for naturalistic theatre, in contrast to the melodramas that were Russia's dominant form of theatre at the time. The theatre, the first to regularly put on shows implementing Stanislavski's system, proved hugely influential in the acting world and in the development of modern American theatre and drama.

My Life in Art is the autobiography of the Russian actor and theatre director Konstantin Stanislavski. It was first commissioned while Stanislavski was in the United States on tour with the Moscow Art Theatre, and was first published in Boston, Massachusetts in English in 1924. It was later revised and published in a Russian-language edition in Moscow under the title Моя жизнь в искусстве. It is divided into 4 sections entitled: 1-Artistic Childhood, 2-Artistic Youth, 3-Artistic Adolescence and 4-Artistic Adulthood.

The Seagull is an opera in three acts by Thomas Pasatieri to an English libretto by Kenward Elmslie. The plot is based on Anton Chekhov's 1896 play, The Seagull.

<i>The Sea Gull</i> 1968 film by Sidney Lumet

The Sea Gull is a 1968 British-American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet. The screenplay by Moura Budberg is adapted and translated from Anton Chekhov's classic 1896 play The Seagull.

Moscow Art Theatre production of <i>The Seagull</i> 1898 production of a play by Anton Chekhov

The Moscow Art Theatre production of The Seagull in 1898, directed by Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, was a crucial milestone for the fledgling theatre company that has been described as "one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama." It was the first production in Moscow of Anton Chekhov's 1896 play The Seagull, though it had been performed with only moderate success in St. Petersburg two years earlier. Nemirovich, who was a friend of Chekhov's, overcame the writer's refusal to allow the play to appear in Moscow after its earlier lacklustre reception and convinced Stanislavski to direct the play for their innovative and newly founded Moscow Art Theatre (MAT). The production opened on 29 December [O.S. 17 December] 1898. The MAT's success was due to the fidelity of its delicate representation of everyday life, its intimate, ensemble playing, and the resonance of its mood of despondent uncertainty with the psychological disposition of the Russian intelligentsia of the time. To commemorate this historic production, which gave the MAT its sense of identity, the company to this day bears the seagull as its emblem.

Ann Dunnigan Kennard was an American actress and teacher who later became a translator of 19th-century Russian literature.

<i>Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike</i> 2012 comedy play by Christopher Durang

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a comedy play written by Christopher Durang. The story revolves around the relationships of three middle-aged single siblings, two of whom live together, and takes place during a visit by the third, Masha, who supports them. They discuss their lives and loves, argue, and Masha threatens to sell the house. Some of the show's elements were derived from works of Anton Chekhov, including several character names and sibling relationships, the play's setting in a country house with a vestigial cherry orchard, the performance of an "avant-garde" play by one of the main characters, and the themes of old vs. new generations, real vs. assumed identities, the challenges of a woman growing older after successes in a career that seems to be ending, the hope and carelessness of youth, intrafamilial rivalries, and the possible loss of an ancestral home.

<i>The Seagull</i> (2018 film) 2018 American film

The Seagull is a 2018 American historical drama film directed by Michael Mayer with a screenplay by Stephen Karam, based on the 1896 play of the same name by Anton Chekhov. The film stars Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen, Billy Howle and Brian Dennehy. Filming began in June 2015 in New York City and the world premiere took place at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2018, prior to general release on May 11, 2018, through Sony Pictures Classics.

The Seagull is a 1972 Soviet film adaptation of the 1896 play of the same name by Anton Chekhov. It was directed by Yuli Karasik and its music was written by Alfred Schnittke.

The Seagull is a 1959 Australian television play based on the 1896 play by Anton Chekhov. Filmed in Sydney it stars Thelma Scott and was produced and adapted by Royston Morley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maria Lilina</span> Russian stage actress

Maria Petrovna Alekseyeva was a Russian and Soviet stage actress, associated with the Moscow Art Theatre, better known under her stage name Lilina (Ли́лина). Konstantin Stanislavski, the MAT director, was her husband. In 1933 Lilina was designated as a People's Artist of the RSFSR.

Stupid Fucking Bird is a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov's 1896 play The Seagull, written by American playwright Aaron Posner, co-founder of the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Posner has written multiple adaptations of Chekhov and Shakespeare's works. In 2013, Stupid Fucking Bird premiered at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. According to Howard Shalwitz, the play takes a satirical spin on a theatrical classic, but has the essence of Chekhov's original intent for the piece—what it means to create art.



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  7. "Elegantly coiffured, clad in evening dress, mournfully contemplating the middle distance with pencil and notepad, suggests someone more intent on resurrecting the dead seagull in deathless prose than plotting the casual seduction of the ardent female by his side." – Worrall 1996 , 107.
  8. Benedetti 1999 , 73 and Benedetti 1989 , 25.
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  14. Quoted by Benedetti 1999, 86.
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