Anton Chekhov—the nineteenth-century Russian physician, dramatist, and author celebrated for his revolutionary contributions to theatrical realism in works like Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Seagull—is a perennial favorite of the repertory theater world. But his work is receiving fresh analyses in a coincidental series of adventurous new adaptations by luminaries of New York’s contemporary performance community this season, including Annie Baker’s Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep, Kristen Kosmas’s There There at Performance Space 122, and The Man in the Case, starring Mikhail Baryshnikov, coadapted and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theater. To investigate this phenomenon, the New Museum has invited Tina Satter and her company Half Straddle to engage in a performance residency that will contextualize the development of their new Chekhov project Seagull (Thinking of you). Curatorial dramaturgy, a concert performance, and a series of panel discussions all feed into Half Straddle’s research and development as they move towards a premiere during Performance Space 122’s 2013 COIL Festival.
Tina Satter’s Seagull (Thinking of you) is a new live performance created by working with, against, and thinking about, an existing play—Chekhov’s The Seagull—and its strange resonances, with a Half Straddle ensemble of female and/or genderqueer performer/artists brought together for this particular show. Satter draws on Chekhov’s letters, varying Seagull translations, Stanislavski’s promptbooks, and Chekhov’s perverse sense of comedy, to consider anew the bleak edges of what makes the human heart really beat and why we ever try to say something out loud. With a Russian folk-metal score composed by Chris Giarmo.
Half Straddle has been creating plays, performances, videos, and music, written and directed by Tina Satter, since 2008 with the collaboration of a company that includes composer Chris Giarmo and performers Jess Barbagallo, Eliza Bent, Emily Davis, Erin Markey, and Julia Sirna-Frest. The company’s critically acclaimed shows feature original text and music, and specific frameworks that slyly deconstruct the preconceived—with singular écriture féminine&emdash;in order to create an explosion, or delicate reveal, of new meaning.