Could there be a more fitting play than Anton Chekhov's The Seagull to launch the graduating class of Dalhousie's Fountain School of Performing Arts? The show's director, Tanja Jacobs, doesn't think so. "This play explores what it is to be an artist and to want love and life in the arts. That's very much what's on the minds of these young actors, right now."
The Seagull focuses on the clash of desires in a group of people including a would-be playwright, a young aspiring actor, a self-centred writer and a middle-aged actor facing waning popularity. Best described as a tragicomedy, it examines the fallout of their many unfulfilled dreams.
Despite its 19th-century Russian setting, Jacobs describes the play as tremendously modern, dealing as it does with a society on the cusp of great change. "There's a collision of cultures," says Jacobs. "One inflexible and another with a powerful hunger to replace that culture with something different and authentic." Jacobs is a Toronto-based actor, director, creator and teacher who is revisiting The Seagull for the third time in two years. She directed a 2013 production at the National Theatre School and was assistant director for Toronto's Crow's Theatre production in February. "I think of it as a kind of immersion in this play," she says.
Jacobs believes audiences will be wowed by the quality of this Dal production, which includes gorgeous costumes and a remarkable set that she says conveys "a very strong sense of place."
The SeagullMarch 31 to April 4, 8pm Saturday, April 2, 2pm
Sir James Dunn Theatre, 6101 University Ave