Suicides and seagulls: Understanding Chekhov’s The Seagull

Two years ago, I saw Benedict Andrews’ production of The Seagull at Belvoir Street Theatre, and fell in love with the play, with the aching emptiness and fragility that seemed to run underneath its neurotic chaotic surface. While I ultimately didn’t like the production on quite a profound level, I think Andrews was getting at something he couldn’t quite articulate effectively enough. And it got me thinking about it, about Chekhov’s play, about the production; about why these sorts of plays last, why they are called ‘classics.’ Before I go any further, I want to make a distinction clear: in theatre, there is a difference between the play and the production. While the two are often used interchangeably, the play more pedantically refers to the script, while the production connotes the specific envisioning of the script by the director, designers, actors and technicians.
In a letter to a friend in 1895, Chekhov described the play he was working on as “a comedy – three f., six m., four acts, a landscape (a view of a lake), much conversation about literature, little action, and five tons of love.” While it is a rather simplistic reduction of the play, it is nonetheless quite a succinct summary. If you were to examine the play, peel back its layers and try to get inside each of Chekhov’s characters, you’d find that ultimately it’s a play about love in all its different guises; yet, at the same time, in true Chekhovian fashion, it’s not particularly ‘about’ anything, except perhaps Life.


Being Lally Katz: Belvoir’s Stories I Want To Tell You In Person

I’ve admired Lally Katz’s anarchic but gently optimistic view of the world ever since I saw Neighbourhood Watch at Belvoir in 2011. There was something unique, something indescribably wonderful about the play that captured something that is the experience of theatre-going for me. Since then, I’ve tried to read and or see as many of her plays as possible (with varying degrees of success) to try and see how everything fits into this Katzian world she’s created across the Australian theatrical landscape in the past decade.
The story of Stories I Want To Tell You In Person began at Belvoir following the success of Neighbourhood Watch. Commissioned to write a new play for them, Katz decided to write about the global financial crisis, something she confesses she knew nothing about. Having spent her commission on seeing various fortune tellers and psychics in New York (numerous times), she wrote the play in twenty-four hours and sent it off. After feeling like Theatre had dumped her in the gutter, quite literally it seems, Katz had an idea that perhaps all was not lost. And what seems like perhaps one of the most perilous undertakings for any creative – to explain where their ideas come from – has become a quite surreal and deliciously entertaining seventy-five minute piece of theatre in Belvoir’s tiny downstairs space.


The year my voice broke: reflections on a year of critical thinking

I started the spell of waking hours a year ago as a way to legitimise the writing of the longer-form pieces I found myself writing, as a way to build up a personal style, to experiment with different ways of expressing my thoughts and ideas; a way to think critically about the passions, the tangents, and the trails of thread I found myself chasing, pursuing, relentlessly enjoying. When I embarked upon this voyage of discovery, I had no idea what would happen to it, what I would write, how I would write, how it would evolve. But now, a year later, with just on one-thousand hits, it has become one of the more rewarding things I have ever done, creatively-speaking. In the process, I’ve learnt how to write a review, how to write well; how to develop and articulate a point, back it up with evidence, and how to stand by that conviction.
In the thirteen months I’ve been developing this blog, I have finished university (for the time being) and have begun trying to find something I’m passionate about. In many ways, my blog is the answer to a question that I ask myself after every book, film, play, after every project – why should I/we care about what is being presented to me/us? In keeping this blog, I’ve been trying to uncover the something that ticks at the heart of every thing I encounter, the ‘why’ that keeps me going back time after time for more. While I don’t suppose we can ever truly find the answer, in some small way, I think I’ve found my niche. 
I guess the only way to find out is to keep following that red thread through the labyrinth, to keep going back asking for more. 


On Reading, Part Two

“Books don’t offer real escape but they can stop a mind from scratching itself raw.”
– David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

A little while ago, I mentioned how I was – am – interested in making connections between books and films, connections that may be implicit or explicit, thematic, character-based or mood-based, connections that may or may not make sense to anyone other than me. Like Dirk Gently, I often feel as though I’ve ‘triangulated the vectors’ and the conclusions have pointed me towards making these connections whether I’ve been conscious of them or not. If you were to look at my bookshelf, you’d see a version of this in practice already: