What do you learn about life from the art you consume, create, and revisit?
As I mentioned in the previous post, I spent quite a bit of time with Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Additionally, for the last six years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with THE NEW COLOSSUS, my own version of The Seagull, first as a stage play and then as an audio drama.
Why so much time? Why that particular play?
Well, after many years of living with myself as a writer, I suspect that all of my creative obsessions and everything I write are the means by which I wrestle with questions about life, the way we are together, and what it all means. Sometimes the questions I’m exploring are obvious, and sometimes I keep them hidden even from myself. Sometimes I fumble my way to answers, but that is rare.
However, it is always true that if I can’t shake off a story idea, then I’m on the hook like Jacob wrestling the angel until I’ve written something and I’m changed.*
*Note: I’m not a theologian nor am I religious, but I like this rather confusing story from the Bible. The Jacob story is a useful metaphor for what writing feels like to me. Another useful metaphor is a kitten getting tangled up in a ball of yarn. 😂
When I caught wind on FB that a friend of mine posted a list of things she’s learned from The Seagull, I read it eagerly, and then asked her if I could share her thoughts. She graciously agreed. You’ll see Hope’s list below.
I’m curious to hear what life lessons you have learned from the art you engage with, revisit, and create? How do you use art to make sense of your world? Especially now? What have you learned from The Seagull or from your own favorite piece of art?
HOPE’S LIST OF CHEKHOVIAN MEANING:
When it comes to making art with people…
Almost Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned from Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull“:
1. If you are a person with power, don’t confuse artistic admiration for personal attractiveness.
2. If you are a person without power, don’t confuse your attraction to art with your attraction to a person.
3. Don’t sleep with or get engaged to someone with more/less power than you. The only happy couples are those who are on equal footing in the worlds they inhabit.
4. If you are in a group of people that wants to stay a functional family unit for as long as possible, resist the natural urge to play sexual Granimals within it and go outside for love and sex.
5. Don’t use your power to screw people or to screw over people. In the short term it may be less awkward; long term–it always bites you in the ass.
6. If people support you for a long time and it goes unrecognized, they will eventually come to hate you even if they still love and admire you. And if they go far away before those things get resolved, those hurts just accrue interest over time.
7. The charismatic asshole never knows they are the charismatic asshole & no one really tells them that directly enough for them to hear it over the adoration of the audience. They remain the hero in their own eyes right up to the moment it all falls apart. This, too, is tragic.
8. You can’t own other people’s trajectory, even if you set them up to begin it.
9. If you try to shoot a seagull out of the sky, you just end up shooting yourself in the head and vice versa.
10. The moment a conflict between two vulnerable people becomes public, all observers will want to join in, not to care for them, but to assert their own agenda into the conversation.
11. Mixing art & money & fame & family is a recipe for volatility.
12. It’s great to talk about ideas & a new form of art & a new way of thinking & being & doing, unless you are the person whose name is on the mortgage & is footing all the bills for everyone else to have the privilege to play.
13. When their marketability is waning & creditors are at the door, mentors & masters are not their best selves.
14. Nobody wins when it goes down this way. The end taints your memory of the whole thing.
15. Things aren’t better in Moscow either.
**P.S. from Tamara: The list above is not up for debate because it’s Hope’s list and not yours. If you have another list of things you learned from The Seagull, then please do share! Even better, if you have a list of things you learned from our production of THE NEW COLOSSUS, then we would love to hear that too!**
MORE ABOUT The new colossus
TNC has its own website and podcast feed. You can see all the links below. Enjoy all SIX episodes and share, share, share.
The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.
TNC is a production of Artist Soapbox and Soapbox Audio Collective with support from the Manbites Dog Theater Fund, the patrons of Artist Soapbox, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Timothy McMackin, and Trailblazer Studios.
The New Colossus Audio drama is rated R for content.
Episodes contain: explicit language, lust and sexual situations, gunfire, death, dysfunctional conversations, illness, bad theatre, anti-patriotism, drinking, and arm-wrestling.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. We hope you enjoy….The New Colossus.
The New Colossus was written, directed, and produced by Tamara Kissane. This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2016 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Anton Chekhov’s play, THE SEAGULL written in 1895.
Big thanks to the incredible team who made this audio production possible:
Executive Producer: Aurelia Belfield
Sound design and editing by Sam Elia
Original Music by Edith Snow and Skylar Gudasz
The audio was recorded at Trailblazer Studios by Cameron Fitzpatrick, our audio engineer, and production manager Kyma Lassiter with additional support from production assistants Barbette Hunter and Kaley Morrison. Additional recording support by James Phillips.
This audio drama features the acting talents of Ron Lee McGill as Konrad, Carly P. Jones as Nina, Edith Snow as Irina, John Jimerson as Trig, Skylar Gudasz as Masha, Ryan Ladue as Meddie, Susannah Hough as Paulina and Michael Foley as Sorin. Kyma Lassiter was the anonymous interviewee on the street. Graphic design by Kaley Morrison.
INDIVIDUAL EPISODES 1-6:
- Try to like it, Mother, ok?
- What did you think of my play?
- Tell me something that you didn’t plan.
- Fun, Fun, Fun Day!
- The K-Rad Chronicles
- There goes my love.
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