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Young Chekhov day at Chichester Festival Theatre

On the 4th of November the Theatre Studies A Level students were given the pleasure of attending a Young Chekhov day at Chichester Festival Theatre. We began the day with a talk from the Associate Director (Michael Oakley) about the rehearsal process and the logistics of the productions. We were also given a glimpse into the world of lighting and sound design and how they must be carefully planned in order to create the appropriate atmosphere for the production. As we walked into the theatre, we were all astounded by the set design, especially by the use of real water surrounding the stage (dyed with ink to make it look deeper), real trees and generally the beauty of the theatre. It was incredibly useful to learn about how the play was put together and the immense amount of effort and thought that must be contributed by all members of the cast and crew.

The talk was followed by an amazing performance of The Seagull – part of a trinity of performances, the others being Platonov and Ivanov – written by Anton Chekhov, adapted by David Hare. The aim of performing the three plays was to ‘reveal the creative evolution of one of the world’s most bold and enduring voices (Chekhov)’. The performance was astounding with perfect characterisation, almost as if the characters were real people. This performance was set in the 1920s and incorporated some elements of modern speech and costume; it was also particularly interesting to see how Jonathan Kent (Director) focused the play on the idea of the struggles of being a young writer rather than another important theme of unrequited love. We were also told in the talk that he worked meticulously with actors to create emotions and reactions that would be completely realistic, and also of a Russian mind-set. The performance was captivating, emphasised by the play ending with a ‘Bang!’ (literally) when the protagonist, Konstantin, shot himself onstage. It was unusual to see, as this would usually occur offstage, however this production was different and staged it cleverly so the audience’s attention was diverted elsewhere onstage, causing the audience to simultaneously jump when the shot was heard, so was therefore very successful.

The performance of The Seagull was intriguing, unique and wonderful; we all thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to thank Mrs Meredith-Jones for organising this trip.