Synopsis and Impressions of Chekhov's "The Seagull" - Chekhov's masterpiece that revolutionized the Russian theater world!

Masterpieces by the great Russian writer Chekhov

Synopsis of Chekhov's masterpiece "The Seagull" - The essence of Chekhov's plays.

Chekhov (1860-1904)Wikipedia.

The Seagull is a play by Chekhov, first performed in 1896.

I read "The Seagull," translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Shinchosha, in "Seagull, Uncle Vanya.

Let's take a quick look at the synopsis.

The Seagull" depicts a young playwright who dreams of artistic innovation and a middle-aged popular writer as Nina, an aspiring actress who longs for love and fame, and how the pure perish before the mundane of the world.

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This volume contains two plays by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), "The Seagull" and "Uncle Vanya. These two plays, along with "The Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard," both of which are also included in the Shincho Bunko collection, have been called Chekhov's four great plays and are considered masterpieces in the history of theater.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p. 241

The Seagull is a play centered around a beautiful daughter, Nina, who aspires to be an actress. Nina had a model. She was a beautiful aspiring vocalist named Lidziya Mizinova, who was a close friend of Chekhov. Chekhov drew Nina in "The Seagull" based on the woman he had seen in real life.

Here is a look at the commentary at the end of the book.

The tragic love story of Nina, the daughter of an aspiring actress, is based on a real-life incident that occurred close to the author's heart, but in fact, the theme of tragic love is a repetition of a very similar theme already dealt with in a very similar form in "A Boring Story" (1889), one of Chekhov's most famous novels of the middle period.

This novel is a masterpiece that chillingly depicts the dreary state of mind of an old retired professor, and was used as an illustration by the now totally outdated and dogmatic former fashion critic Shestov, who condemned Chekhov as a poet of despair and called his creation "creation out of nihilism". In this novel, the old professor's adopted daughter, Katya, is an attractive young aspiring actress.

She leaves home and joins a theater troupe, longing for fame like Nina in "The Seagull," gives herself to a man, has a child, is eventually abandoned by the man, dies of childbirth, and falls into despair.

In this respect, the tragic love between the two daughters - Katya and Nina - follows the same path, but what is important is the difference in their endings.

In the novel written six years ago, Katya, who had aspired to be an actress but had fallen into despair, follows an old professor on a trip one day and tearfully asks him what she should do now, exclaiming, "I can no longer go on living like this.

Her adoptive father, an old professor with supposedly vast life experience, is unable to offer any advice, but simply replies, "I don't know," and the daughter leaves sadly.

This is the novel's famous ending, which truly expresses the anguish and skepticism of Chekhov himself in his middle period, when he was exhausted and had lost all meaning in life, Nina, frustrated and in despair, now knows what to do with herself at the end of the play.

In other words, she already knows that what is important for her work is not the glorious fame and glory she once dreamed of, but perseverance.

This belief of Nina's, though expressed in only a few brief lines in "The Seagull," shines brightly in the atmosphere of Chekhov's uniquely depressing and dark play.

Patience alone will not make one a great actress or a great writer, but the growth from Katya to Nina can be seen in the realization that escape from despair and salvation from despair lies in perseverance, and in this we can recognize the author Chekhov's literary and life-development.

The transition from despair to the need for patience, and from patience to the need for hope, to the need for faith in a bright future, can be said to be the main tone of Chekhov's four great plays.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p. 241

Boring Stories."has been previously featured on this blog.

Both the old professor and Katya in this work lose the meaning of life, and the story ends with them at a loss as to what to do. The unanswerable ending caused a tremendous sensation when it was first published.

Six years later, Chekhov would further awaken through a trip to Sakhalin Island in 1890 and the writing of numerous works.

The stage that was created through this awakening was "The Seagull".

The Seagull" is now famous as Chekhov's masterpiece, but in fact, the play's premiere is said to have been a tremendous flop.

The Seagull" was so original for the time that even the actors who performed it, let alone the audience, could not understand it at all.

Chekhov suffered a terrible blow when the play premiered at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in the fall of 1896 and failed miserably. The failure of the premiere can be blamed on the theatrical climate of the time, which was centered on famous actors, and on the directors, actors, and even the audience, who were not in favor of the author, who failed to grasp the true meaning of Chekhov's play. Chekhov sneaked out of the theater where he had been laughed at and wandered alone through the autumn nights of Betelburg, vowing never to write another play.

Chekhov's fond sister Marija blames the subsequent worsening of his pulmonary tuberculosis on these cold autumn nights of wandering.

The Seagull" was first performed successfully two years later, in the fall of 1988, at the newly established Moscow Art Theatre, led by Stanislavskii and Nemirovich-Danchenko.

The Moscow Art Troupe, in defiance of the theater world of the time, which was centered on famous actors, expressed on stage the true value of Chekhov's plays, which demanded an ensemble and atmosphere, based on a thorough understanding of the works, new direction in which the actors lived in their roles, and new acting.

The Moscow Art Troupe's emblem, the flying seagull, commemorates the success of this historic revival of "The Seagull," and its success also brought Chekhov back to playwriting.

Shinchosha, translated by Kiyoshi Kannishi, Seagull, Uncle Vanya, p. 246-247

At that time, Russian theater was dominated by easy-to-understand, stiffly-composed plays that made people laugh through the actors' exaggerated performances and comical plotlines.

In contrast, Chekhov depicts an everyday world set in the home.

He wanted a subtle performance in which the performer became the character, not an over-the-top performance that was meant to be funny.

However, the actors reject Chekhov's intentions, believing that such a play would not be popular with the audience, and begin to perform on their own. The Seagull, a delicate and precise play, collapsed in mid-air. The audience had no idea what was going on, and the play was a huge disappointment.

The Seagull" was a film that was not well received by the actors before the audience.

In fact, the same thing happened in Russia in the past.

That was first performed in 1836.Gogol(at sentence-end, falling tone) indicates a confident conclusionThe Prosecutor."This is a work called

This play is also one of the most popular Russian plays in the world, and Gogol forbade his actors to exaggerate their performances.

However, like Chekhov, the actors began to act on their own, much to Gogol's dismay.

As Gogol, one of Russia's most famous writers, had done in the past, Chekhov suffered the same fate some 60 years later.

Two years later, however, "The Seagull" was revived by Danchenko and the famous actor Stanislavsky at the Moscow Theatre. Conducted by actors with a deep understanding of Chekhov's intentions, "The Seagull" was such a success that it became one of the biggest events in the Russian theater world. (For more on this, see our previous blog entry by Jean Benediti.A Biography of Stanislavsky."(It is also explained in detail in)

It is because of this success that laterUncle Vanya."The Three Sisters.The Cherry OrchardThis was to be the creation of a masterpiece play.


The Seagull is Chekhov's masterpiece.

If it is a representative work, that should be interesting.

I thought so and tried to read it, but there was something wrong.

I just can't for the life of me figure out the fun in that...

I read the reference book, and then I read it again and again, but still, "Interesting!" I read it again and again, but it was still not "interesting!

Of course, it is not "boring". However, it is difficult to understand how interesting it is, especially when compared to Chekhov's novels.

Why would this be the case?

I have given this a lot of thought and feel that perhaps this is a "play" that should be viewed as a play and not read as a novel.

Chekhov plays do not have tumultuous stories. It is a simple story mainly about domestic differences. Such a delicate, domestic story is the true essence of Chekhov's work.

In a book, it is impossible to perceive the subtle gestures, tones, and pauses of the characters. It is only when the actors actually perform on stage that the audience is struck by their realism.

The Seagull" is not a novel. It is a play. If it were written as a novel, Chekhov would have written it so that it could be read more like a novel. However, this book is a literal translation of the play "The Seagull.

I thought that this is where the difficulty lies in reading the book and not being able to get into it.

I was searching the internet for information on "The Seagull",whatever Willingness of the White CatIn an article by "You can improve your acting just by reading! The Seagull by ChekhovThere was a page called Therein,

This play called "The Seagull" is truly a play!
When I first read it, I didn't really understand it, but when I started performing as an actor, all of a sudden I could read it.

The characters (and there are many of them) are all chatty, and the reason they don't always engage in conversation is because they are all thinking about something else. LOL.

How nervous everyone is! As the line "everywhere is full of love" laments, because people who cannot understand each other are gathered in the same place (laugh), I have to play myself in one scene as a man and a woman, an adult and a child, two lovers, a mother, an artist, etc., all at the same time, changing depending on the other person and his/her position at that moment. (This is busy!)

Don't just talk about your feelings. I would call it the richest script for actors!
So, try reading it not as a book, but as a dialogue, leaning in close to the characters, even if just for the moment. Before you know it, you will have a magical experience where your breathing will match and your heart will move on its own.

whatever Willingness of the White Cat  ."You can improve your acting just by reading! The Seagull by ChekhovFrom

When I read this article, I thought, "Ah, I see! I see. After allAs a piece to be performed.I thought this work was outstanding.

He said that trying to read it as a novel doesn't really convey the appeal of this work.

What about Shakespeare? His works are interesting even when read in book form.

That's right. But Shakespeare has a tumultuous story, and more and more cool lines that you can't help but want to say out loud. It's flashy, so to speak. That's why it's interesting to read in book form. (Of course, it's even more fun to see it in a play.)

Chekhov, on the other hand, was oriented toward a more delicate, more homely, more realistic play. I think that is the difference.

In fact, the four major plays "Uncle Vanya," "The Three Sisters," and "The Cherry Orchard," which will be introduced later, were also difficult to understand just by reading them once, and it was only after reading them many times with the help of reference books that I finally understood their interest.

My honest opinion is that it is a bit of a handicap to read as a book.

However, I have no doubt that it would be extremely interesting to see it on stage. I strongly feel that it would be an interesting and profound experience of theater that is different from Shakespeare.

I may not get a chance to see it on stage very often, but I would love to experience a Chekhov play. I have a feeling that it will be interesting.

Chekhov plays are definitely better seen on stage than read in a book.

This may seem obvious to those familiar with theater, but for me, who was used to reading Shakespeare, this piece made me rethink the idea of theater.

The above is a synopsis of Chekhov's "The Seagull" - Chekhov's masterpiece that revolutionized the Russian theater world! The Seagull" is a masterpiece by Chekhov, who revolutionized the Russian theatrical world!

*Addition on January 15, 2023

I recently read an interesting article about "The Seagull" in "The Art of Directing" by Yukio Ninagawa and Hiroshi Hasebe, and I would like to quote it here.

Especially with Chekhov, when you are rehearsing standing up, you make discoveries. I find myself thinking, "Wow, these people are thinking like this. When you read a book, you tend to focus on the characters who are speaking the lines, and at the same time, it is difficult to understand where each character on stage is coming from and where they are going in silence. When I actually stand up and perform, I find that one character has been there for such a long time, but he is silent the whole time. You start thinking, "What is he doing? I find myself silently staring at the man or woman I like without knowing it. If I am at my desk reading only the dialogue, I just can't see that part of it.

Is it correct to think of Shakespeare's works as being performed by the characters who are speaking the dialogues as the subjects of the scene?

Yes, I agree. Unlike Shakespeare, what I think makes Chekhov a modern play is that each person is equivalent. What I am paying attention to in directing this time is who else moves in response to one person's movement, and how people's positions change when a certain incident occurs. Like a puzzle, or like a ripple, people switch places, sit in different chairs, and look at people in different ways. Like a ball rolling down a table, the movement of the ball is created. Isn't that what a ball game is all about? Not only does the ball hit the target directly, but it also uses the cushion. The position of the other balls will move accordingly. It is just like that.

Of course, the audience's gaze is naturally drawn to the person who is speaking now, and there is of course the main character, but when one considers the chain of spheres that are moving as the play progresses, each human being is placed on an equal footing. Elaborate, Chekhov elaborates. Every time I read "The Seagull," for a long time I was frustrated, thinking, "Damn, this is what youth is all about," but now, well, I think I can handle it with a little leeway.

Chikuma Shobo, Yukio Ninagawa, Hiroshi Hasebe, The Art of Directing, p. 279-280

There is, of course, a main character, but each person is placed on an equal footing, given the chain of spheres that move as the play progresses. Elaborate, Chekhov elaborates."

Okay, this is easy to understand. And the last one."Elaborate. Chekhov elaborates."The words, "I'm so happy to see you here. That's what Yukio Ninagawa is all about. This book, "The Art of Directing," is a great way to learn about Ninagawa's approach to theater. We recommend you pick up a copy of this book as well.

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Click here for a list of Chekhov's recommended works.

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