Roth Re-Imagines Seagull as Jewish Seagull on 16th Street, Taking Wing in DC June 17 | Playbill

News Roth Re-Imagines Seagull as Jewish Seagull on 16th Street, Taking Wing in DC June 17
Theater J, the Washington, DC, company devoted to Jewish voices and subjects, ends its current season June 17-July 19 with a new adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, here called The Seagull on 16th Street, by artistic director Ari Roth.

The new play, based on a translation by Carol Rocamora, "explores the dynamic clash between spiritual yearning and artistic ambitions." Mother and son theatre artists Arkadina and Constantine disagree about the son's experimental play with Jewish content.

Performances play in the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at the Washington DCJCC. Opening is June 21.


John Vreeke directs the production. According to Theater J notes, "Youth is envied, challenged and mortally wounded in this tale of lovelorn artists, civil servants and household workers, penned by the great Russian writer, Anton Chekhov. Theater J's adaptation draws inspiration from Louis Malle's brilliant 1994 film, 'Vanya on 42nd Street,' a cinematic rendering of Andre Gregory's theatrical production of Uncle Vanya set in a Times Square theatre. In Theater J's version of The Seagull, the corner of 16th and Q streets (and our assembling of recognizable DC actors in the DCJCC's Goldman Theater) provides the contemporary portal through which we journey back in time to the Russian countryside to reveal a clash between Arkadina, a famous actress, her aspiring literary son, Treplev, and their respective lovers, Trigorin and Nina, at the estate of Pyotr Nikolayevich Sorin, Arkadina's brother.

"As the play begins, Treplev, in long-standing search for an authentic identity, embraces his long-lost Jewish heritage while pursuing a lofty artistic calling. Rejecting the bourgeois, assimilationist aesthetic of his mother's career, Treplev announces the formation of his own Jewish theatre company, gathering all assembled for an al fresco fundraiser and performance of his experimental creation. But all does not go well. Treplev tries to convince the young actress Nina to embrace his peculiar script, while his mother pointedly rejects his religiously infused art, deriding it as 'Hebraic tripe.' Treplev's passionate excesses lead to jealousy, heartbreak and lots of laughs." This new version incorporates snippets of songs from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s. The cast will be led by Jerry Whiddon (a six-time Helen Hayes Award nominee and founding artistic director of Round House Theatre) as the famous author Trigorin, Naomi Jacobson (who has received ten Helen Hayes Award nominations including one award) as his lover, the grande dame Arkadina, and Theater J artistic associate-in-residence Alexander Strain (Helen Hayes Award nominee for Pangs of the Messiah) as her son, the romantic and raging young playwright Treplev. The company includes J. Fred Shifman (three-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 12-time nominee) as Dr. Dorn, Veronica Del Cerro as Nina, Brian Hemmingsen as Shamraev, Nanna Ingvarsson as Polina Andreevna, Tessa Klein as Masha, Mark Krawczyk as Medvedenko, Stephen Patrick Martin as Sorin and Jason McCool as Yakov.

The design team includes Russian-born designer Misha Kachman (scenic and costume), Helen Hayes Award-winning lighting designer Dan Covey, Helen Hayes Award-winning sound designer Matt Nielson and properties designer Michelle Elwyn.

For more information call (800) 494-TIXS or visit

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