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THERE’S AN INTIMATE MARRIAGE OF THEATRE AND FILM playing out in The Seagull, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and released on May 11th. Tony award-winning director, Michael Mayer, ( Spring Awakening , Hedwig and the Angry Inch , A View From the Bridge ) directed the film and Tony award-winning playwright, Stephen Karam, ( The Humans ) penned the screenplay. Mayer has assembled a stellar cast of theatre mavens for this cinematic adaptation of Chekhov’s play centered around theatre and playwriting. The classic story finds a group of friends and family gathered for a weekend in the Russian countryside. Love triangles and impassioned yearnings abound as friends, families and lovers, all living under the same roof, become interwoven. Coined a tragicomedy, Chekhov’s play asks enduring questions about life and love – queries that are universal to any audience. “There’s never been a really great film version [of The Seagull ],” says Mayer, contemplating what made this a good time for a play published in the 1890s. “It’s a significant, beautiful and human play that really merits a film treatment. I think that the possibility of casting such a beautiful group of actors to tell this story made it an irresistible thing.” The film features Brian Dennehy, Corey Stoll, Saoirse Ronan, Mare Winningham, Elizabeth Moss and Annette Bening, who is already receiving Oscar buzz for her portrayal of Irina. But is there an audience for an adaptation of a Chekhov play? “There’s always an audience for Chekhov’s work because he presents human beings with all of their faults, beauty, vulnerabilities and defenses in place,” Mayer says. “You have characters like Irina and Boris (Stoll) who are both sort of monsters as they try to destroy young minds without even thinking about it. But they’re both multidimensional. I always feel empathy for them, and I think Chekhov felt great empathy for all of the characters.” Audiences might be surprised at the contemporary flavor that has been infused in the film, though it is not blatant; on paper, The Seagull is a period piece. In its sensibilities, however, it is modern. “Even though it’s set at the end of the 19 th century, it feels completely resonant,” says Mayer, pointing a finger at Nina, played by three time Oscar nominee, Saoirse Ronan. “Nina is obsessed with fame,” he says. “If you ask any kid in school what he or she wants to be when they grow up, they say they want to be famous. It’s only through trying it that Nina realizes it takes a lot of work, patience, diligence, tenacity and bravery to face down all of the potential humiliation.” Its modernity can also be attributed to the methods through which the film was shot: “It doesn’t feel old and musty the way a lot of people think Chekhov or Shakespeare has to be,” says Karam. “The camera angles and the soundtrack that’s accompanying it very much help with that.” The screenwriter, who poignantly depicted family drama in the Tony award-winning play The Humans, says that he was partly drawn to the piece because of how he could see himself in it. “Everybody in it is in love with the wrong person,” he says. “I can certainly relate to that 96 WESTONMAGAZINEGROUP.COM

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