Which is to say, “on Broadway.” A different version of the Ian Rickson production that we saw at the Royal Court Theatre 18 months ago when we first launched this blog and traveled to London to see Kristen Scott Thomas perform her wonderful turn as Arkadina. Nope, she’s no Naomi Jacobson, but she’s quite wonderful, and now, from Ben Brantley’s reporting in the New York Times, she’s even more impressive in her performance on this side of the ocean. There’s also a nice slideshow the Times has put together with the new American Trigorin, Peter Sarsgaard, talking about the wildly different reactions audiences have had watching the show during previews. Sometimes they perform to an audience that’s completely silent the entire night. Other times, they laugh early and often. Check it out.
Me? I’m finishing up rewrites on our SEAGULL ON 16TH STREET this weekend — things learned and gleaned from notes after our very funny Monday reading. Peter Sarsgaard’s right: It’s all about how you start. What kind of invitation you extend to your audience. I love that we have a prologue that is proving to be funny. But I’m still fishing around for the right song to start the show, which is to say a song for Yakov. That’s how our version opens; with Yakov putting the finishing touches on the temporary stage he’s constructing for Treplev’s play. Right now he’s singing a verse of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” only to stop himself and say, “No, that isn’t right.” Because it’s not. The use of pop songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s sprinkled throughout the play was one of the delightful surprises of the reading — in that it worked! In that we could use even more. Chekhov sprinkled snippets of popular song in his original; we’re bringing pieces of ourselves into Chekhov’s Russia; that’s the concept. We’ll continue working on it this glorious weekend.