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The Mass Media

Director Daniel Gidron on UMass Boston’s Production of “The Seagull”

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Daniel Gidron is a professor at UMass Boston and director of  ”The Seagull.”

 

 

“There’s a reason why a play is a classic,” said Director Daniel Gidron about the performing arts department’s upcoming production of”The Seagull.” 

“Usually it has to do with the content being relevant to us. We understand it. We find it fascinating, very human, and it becomes a classic. This one is definitely classic,” said Gidron, who is a UMass faculty member and director of the production playing at the McCormack Theater April 24-28. 

“The Seagull,” was written by Russian doctor Anton Chekhov at the turn of the 20th century. Although the play premiered in 1896, Gidron confirmed that the dialogue will neither sound dated nor “like a translation.”

“I’ve done ‘The Seagull’ years ago, actually, in Israel in Hebrew, and I also acted in it years ago here at Brandeis,” said Gidron, who is no stranger to the play.

“I really love Chekhov, and this is going to be quite interesting because I think ‘The Seagull’ is the most accessible of his four great plays – the most accessible for young people, because it’s the most plot-driven of the other plays. It deals with love triangles, it deals with art, deals with the theater; actually, one of the main characters is a playwright, and a writer. The mother, Arkadina, was a famous actress. And Nina wants to go on stage,” said Gidron.

The play takes place on a country estate, with each act set on a different part of the estate.

“It’s four different spaces, but we’re not doing it naturalistic, so … it’s clear that it’s different places, but there are hints. We don’t want it too realistic anyway,” Gidron explained.

Professor Anthony Phelps will be working on the light design aspect of the production. Leslie Held, costume designer and technical instructor at MIT, will be designing the costumes.

“She did the costumes for me for ‘Arabian Nights’; I’ve worked with her, she’s really really good. She did very exciting designs so far. And Anthony’s great,” said Gidron. 

“The Seagull” is a comedy, and as Gidron reveals, a very specific type.

“It’s not a laugh a minute. My belief [is that] Chekhov’s outlook at the world, and of his characters, is a comic outlook. He was a doctor, Chekhov — a medical doctor — so he’s got that kind of objective sort of way of looking at the world, looking at people’s foibles,” said Gidron.

“My sense [of] the way he writes is that the first three acts are really funny, and the fourth act turns; not sentimental, it’s like a knife in the gut — it’s really disturbing.”

The cast of “The Seagull” comprises nearly 13 students, and the big difference, he says, between students and professionals, is mostly the age range. Even though Gidron has over 18 years of experience alone teaching at Brandeis, he is certain there will be challenges.

“Cast changes everything, because even though I know the play, I have to create relationships between the people that I have in front of me,” Gidron said.

“I’m always saying that if I know all the answers in the beginning of rehearsals, I know something’s wrong, because then the discovery and the process is not going to happen. So I have to kind of force myself to be in that no-man’s-land a little bit — even if I know the answers, I have to force myself to think that I don’t know it, because otherwise … if you know all the answers, you’re going to be boring. You’re going to repeat yourself; that’s deadly. I don’t want to be deadly. I want to find new things,” said Gidron.

“The Seagull” will run from April 24 to April 28; tickets are $10 for students and seniors, $15 general admission.