It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s actually ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekov. The Jacksonville State University Department of Drama has announced the upcoming shows for this season and one of them is entitled ‘The Seagull.’
Also included in this season’s shows are ‘The Mousetrap’ by Agatha Christie, ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ by Robert Reale, and ‘To Tread Among Serpents’ by Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos.
And at the end of the season, the JSU Drama department will sponsor the Student Showcase and One Acts. Students will prepare presentations of a costume piece, lighting design, set design, or short plays that they will present to the public.
Randy Blades, the department head in JSU’s drama department, says of the showcase, “A lot of people don’t see the design, the backstage work, the technical work. There are a lot of audience members who are surprised because they don’t realize we make all of the costumes, that we build so much of our sets. So we want to highlight some of that.”
Up first this season though, is ‘The Seagull,’ a play written by Anton Chekov and first premiered in 1898. An early 20th century Russian play, ‘The Seagull’ is about art and the artists that create it. The main character is a writer who wants to become a famous playwright, whose mother is already a famous actor.
“We haven’t done a Chekov here before,” says Blades. “He’s one of the greatest playwrights in history. it’s a big thing for us to tackle as our first show of the season.”
It will be a large undertaking for the department. The show is set in the early 1900s and so requires period costumes and sets to match the time. The set not only has to match the timeframe but there also needs to be 4 different set designs because of the different backgrounds to each of the scenes.
Blades described a modular set piece that would break apart and come back together as different and new pieces. “It’s complicated,” says Blades, “but a good kind of complicated that we’re really excited about.”
This season, the English department also gets to be involved in the form of Dr. Pitt Harding and Dr. Steve Whitton. Both professors get to be an actor in one of the shows this performance season.
“If we need someone a little more age appropriate for the role, it’s nice to get a non-college person in. We don’t do it in detriment of a student getting a role but when it’s viable we like to bring faculty in,” explains Blades.
The other play this semester is Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap,’ a murder-mystery that is this year’s student directed show. It is also the world’s longest running show, with over 60 years on the West End in London.
Tanner Cain, a senior with a theatre major, is very excited about being able to do this show because he has wanted to do a murder-mystery for a while said Blades.
Because the show is a murder mystery, the story will not be printed here in the paper. “We want to keep the ending a secret,” says Blades.
The members of the show will have spent about 6 weeks perfecting each of the shows so be sure to attend.
‘The Seagull will be presented beginning on October 16 in the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center on the main stage at 7 p.m.
Very soon, the online ticket booth webpage will be up and functioning so tickets will be available to order online, by phone, or at the box office.
Auditions have already been held for the first two shows but spring shows will have auditions in November. A monologue and a song will need to be prepared if someone is interested in participating.
Arts & Entertainment Editor