In the Loop
Student Stories : Sep 21, 2017

"The Seagull": redefining the meaning of family

By Jordan Sison

The Seagull, written by Anton Chekhov, is known in the theatre world as the beginning of the realistic theatre movement. Using an adaptation written by Tim Altmeyer, director and associate professor, the UF School of Theatre + Dance (SOTD) proudly presents this masterpiece to the university and Gainesville community.

The Seagull, recognized for its subtext and intimacy, emphasizes the joys and hardships of everyday life. With this adaptation, Altmeyer is able to acknowledge the original text but also make it relatable to today’s culture.

“I think this project provides an opportunity for student theatre-makers and student patrons at UF to experience a classic work that was, in its time, revolutionary in its treatment of drama as an exploration of human behavior through characters rich in psychological and emotional life,” Altmeyer said. “And in doing that, we make them aware of the historical connections to our popular 21st century narratives on television (like This is Us) and in film (like Manchester by the Sea) that can be found in this 19th century play.”

Altmeyer, using the idea of family as a theme in past productions, hopes the audience will look at this family, find similarities of their own and empathize with the characters’ relationships to one another.

“I want the audience to experience this play, not as a reflection of the past, but as a reflection of themselves,” he said, “to be reminded that family dysfunction—loneliness and self-involvement—are not products of the technology age, but inextricable parts of the human condition.”

Nicole Cannon, a fourth-year BFA acting major playing Nina in The Seagull, advised audience members who have read the play to keep an open mind.

“Just come ready to see it in a new light and experience it in the moment for what it is,” Cannon said.

This adaptation of The Seagull also includes live music throughout the production. Under the direction of Jordan Alexander Key, a graduate student studying music composition at UF, students in the BFA acting program and BA theatre program will alternate between actors and musicians in the production.

Zac Gowdie, a fourth-year BA theatre major, discussed the importance of music in the show.

“You really realize how important music is to set an atmosphere or a tone to a certain scene,” he said. “Music helps actors thrive and find moments for themselves. It is very important to the process because without music there wouldn’t be an atmosphere. There would just be silence.”

The Seagull opens Friday, September 22 and runs through October 1st.

Showtimes are:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.