BY ANTON CHEKHOV - NEW VERSION BY ANYA REISS
We need the theatre, couldn't, couldn't do without it. Could we?"
I had been working with Russell Bolam, a fine young director, at the start of 2012 at the National Theatre Studio. He had a development project there for an idea of his called The Embassy - a site-specific, immersive theatre evening where the audience are guests at an embassy and all the insanity of a nation's culture, history and strife is let loose upon them. It was super-fun and it may one day become a show, but later in the year he invited me to audition for the part of the poor teacher, Mr Medvedenko, in an updated version of Chekhov's The Seagull. I was flattered to be asked as it had been well over a decade since my last proper play with proper actors (A Busy Day in 2000) (Three Wishes had been in 2001 but I wrote that, so it wasn't really proper). When I got the part I was super-happy.
Rehearsals are amazing things where you play and try stuff and watch other people and support them and try other things and see what happens. Now usually for my shows that just involves me and Erica Whyman, but being in a room with nine other performers to study, to bounce off, to be inspired by and to hang out with, I was in a pretty swell version of heaven. Bermondsey actually, but you get the idea.
When the show was up and running we played to full houses pretty constantly. Most of the credit for this goes to Anya Reiss, whose version of the story relocated it to the Isle of Man and updated many of the elements while keeping truthful to Chekhov's themes and ideas. Russell's direction was terrific too. The costumes and design were fantastic, the soundscape excellent, the scene changes were enormous fun. I just loved doing the show every night - it was great to be part of a company of warm, generous folk who made doing a play the most like playing I can imagine.
I won't list everyone as I'd be here all night, but I made some wonderful friends in the cast and I'm enormously grateful to each of them for the experience.
You can read reviews of the show HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE
And go to my GALLERY page for a photo of the cast on our last night.