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Stupid Fucking Bird

by Aaron Posner

Stupid Fucking Bird

by Aaron Posner

Translation: Evelina Siminică
Director:
Răzvan Oprea
Sets:
Silvia Horobeanu
Video:
Silvia Horobeanu
Light design:
Andrei Niculescu
Music:
Rareș Varniote
Choreography:
Florin Fieroiu
Technical Director:
Adrian Ionescu, Luțu Scobeniuc

Premiere: 16.09.2021

Duration: 2 h 35 min / Pause: No

Dates
28 Oct 2022 19:30
Tickets

40 lei

20 lei (cu reducere pentru elevi, studenți și pensionari)

Stupid Fucking Bird was created and had its world premiere in June 2013 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, DC; Howard Shalwitz, Artistic Director and Jeffrey Herrmann, General Manager.

Stupid Fucking Bird had its New York premiere at The Pearl Theatre Company; Hal Brooks, Artistic Director.

Project achieved within the programme Open Doors to Everyone

 

Show not recommended for minors aged under 16.

Beyond the endless string of productions faithful to Chekhov's letter and spirit, Chekhov's plays challenge new generations of playwrights and directors to offer modern reinterpretations that better resonate with the demands of contemporary audiences.

Therefore, NTB brings to the stage, after another Chekhov remix (Three Sisters by Radu Afrim), a free and non-conformist adaptation based on Chekhov's Seagull: Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner, directed by Răzvan Oprea.

American playwright Aaron Posner's irreverently titled play, winner of a Helen Hayes Award for Best Play, retains the Chekhovian themes of The Seagull, such as unrequited love, shattered dreams, and the search for new theatrical art forms, but sets them against the frenetic backdrop of the 21st century.

„Despite its apparent rebellion from the original, Posner's bitingly humorous and deeply sensitive adaptation comes closer than other plays/adaptations to the complexity of emotions in Chekhov's play. Mr. Posner turns a classic writer often treated with formal reverence into a mirror that shows in stark detail all that is new to the unhappiness of people nowadays (much more obsessed with this theme) as well as what is timeless (the love that troubles your life, the suffering of everyday life, etc.).” New York Times

For his part, Răzvan Oprea, NTB actor and graduate of a Master’s in Theatre Direction, proposes on the stage of the Painting Hall a modern, provocative, explosive performance, a fresh approach to a classic of universal drama. With talent and artistic versatility, a cast that includes established names from the Bucharest National Theatre (Cecilia Bârbora and Marius Bodochi), together with their younger colleagues (Eduard Adam, Cosmina Olariu, Vitalie Bichir, Alexandra Sălceanu, Emilian Mârnea) simultaneously populate two worlds - that of the Chekhovian heroes and that of Aaron Posner's characters.

„It gives The Seagull a fine, modern tweak - you could say it takes a famous work of art and resizes it, adding lots of pixels. It doesn't venture far from the basic plot of The Seagull, and if you don't know or remember the play, you can enjoy Stupid Fucking Bird as a completely new play.” Newsworks

A.P. Chekhov's Seagull explores the complexities of human relationships, especially the cruelty of love, while at the same time being a foray into the nature of theatrical art.

With a text that is intelligent and insightful without being pretentious, Stupid Fucking Bird is an entertaining, witty, occasionally pejorative and often dark work of art. A fast-paced, funny, clever, and often profound play. 

Even if you've never seen The Seagull or pondered the meaning of performance art, Stupid Fucking Bird will captivate you with its unexpected insights into people's ability to love, to wallow in misery, or to explore their creativity. If you're a Chekhov lover or theatre student, this play might make a strong impression on you." Talkin Broadway

„An ingenious and funny reinvention of Chekhov.” Phindie

„We know that Chekhov smiles approvingly at Posner's adaptation.” Main Line Media News

Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

 

Partner of the show:    

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Friday
28
10
2022
The Painting Hall 19:30 Buy tickets
Emma: Cecilia Bârbora Sorn: Marius Bodochi
Con: Eduard Adam Nina: Cosmina Olariu
Trigorin: Vitalie Bichir Mash: Alexandra Sălceanu
Dev: Emilian Mârnea The Child: Matei Dumitru

"Răzvan Oprea's show, the first, hopefully not the only one this fall, manifests itself as a vehement protest against history, somewhat an extension of Aaron Posner's Stupid Fucking Bird. If the American playwright updates Chekhov's The Seagull, persiflage from time to time in a way reminiscent of any theatregoer's long-running accumulations, Răzvan Oprea adds to them the desperation of a time that forces us to reassess our existence from the perspective not of tomorrow's lability, as was once the case, but of an insistently dissected present.

In a history of constraints, choked by the debris of the great History, the Chekhovian characters surface, having traversed the cynicism, the weariness, and the discontent, typical of the disillusioned in the so-called modern drama. Constructed as participations in the great collective monologue, the characters of the performance display the unknown or updated side of Chekhovian heroes. A ferment of the group, Sorin (here, Sorn), impersonated by Marius Bodochi, brings to each scene the intact passion of an actor who has made a name for himself by playing a participatory role from one end to the other, being among those rare actors who have not lost the joy of stage construction. His character evolves from the affable saloonkeeper to the explosive, histrionic being hidden in every man. Against this backdrop created by Sorn, the other characters develop, a Trigorin (Vitalie Bichir) who composes the unitary profile of the contemporary writer, relying on a seamless naturalness, an Arkadina (Emma), remodelled according to all the disdain of an embittered being, played by Cecilia Bârbora, in her specific style, or a Masha (Alexandra Sălceanu), outraged by the world, able to get into the skin of the "nurse" of all times, with her speech adjusted to the exhibitionist riots of social networks.

Placed in an equation, Emma's son Con (Treplev) and Dev (Medvedenko) manage to nuance the story. While initially insisting on convention, Dev, played by Emilian Mârnea, positions himself towards the end as a charming and vivid narrator. Technically even throughout, Eduard Adam's Con is convincing and memorable in the impossible suicide scene. And, of course, Nina (Cosmina Olariu), the seagull, the blamed bird, succeeds in breaking out of the fragile character mould, proposing a character that blends various traits of contemporary aspirants without losing her unity, her epic character distinction - she is also the character with the most flowing story.

The whole performance is a riotous and therefore all-encompassing gesture, but within it remain to the end the vivid, convincing characters, cut out as if from a period play and remade in the order of strict contemporaneity. Timeless costumes, aggressive sets and of course a bloody bird that has tortured generations of acting students."

Doina Ruști, optmotive.ro – Chekhov performed in the present   

"Without abandoning the central themes of Chekhov's play - the suffering caused by unrequited love, the complicated relationship between mother and son, the constant aspiration towards a perfect art, capable of metamorphosing reality - Posner's score also introduces the sounds of contemporary world, of consumer society, sometimes pushing to the point of paroxysm the pedal of exasperation, of depression in the face of existences that are pointlessly unravelling, without the saving ingredient.

The direction by Răzvan Oprea and the scenography proposed by Silvia Horobeanu for Aaron Posner's play (translated into Romanian by Evelina Siminică) outline a dynamic, sometimes even explosive performance, in which nostalgia for the end of the 19th century in Russia is intertwined with the hectic rhythms of today's globalising and consumerist society. The characters bear names that are obviously reminiscent of the heroes from whom they are descended (some even keep them as such - Nina and Trigorin - for others, the nominal labels are adapted to current American contexts - Masha becomes Mash or Konstantin Treplev - Con).

I cannot help but wonder how audiences of different generations view this play. What part do they each relish and how much do they condemn or applaud the author for this conversation across time, more than a century apart, with Chekhov? With which of the actors do they resonate best? The young ones (Cosmina Olariu, Alexandra Sălceanu, Eduard Adam, Emilian Mârnea, Vitalie Bichir) or those who have already had considerable careers (Cecilia Bârbora and Marius Bodochi)? Whose side are they on - that of the unhappy and (almost) suicidal young man or that of the successful creator, aware in his turn of all the boundaries and limitations of existence? Mirroring, intertextuality, meta-discourse. They are all part of the never-ending story of theatre, in which Chekhov draws from Shakespeare and Posner from both."

Cristina Bogdan, optmotive.ro - Mirrorings and intertextualities   

"'Stupid F***ing Bird' - an adaptation, rather a contemporary revisiting of Chekhov's 'The Seagull', written by Aaron Posner and directed by Răzvan Oprea - is a show that operates on your heart, without anaesthesia, and at the end does not sew you up or give you prophylactic painkillers or antibiotics. Life, love, art are "translated" into the contortions of our days through this staging in which you are no longer sure where the stage is, whether you are a spectator or an actor, you mirror yourself in all the characters, simultaneously and in turn, you understand that there is not much left to understand in this posthuman time, but there would still be something to live, to love and to create, if you fight not to be swept away by the wave, by the waves. Go see this show, my friends, it is of a rapturous intensity."

Ana Barton, writer

"I love seeing stories, personifications, messages conveyed from on and beyond the stage, but today, more than ever, I felt like I was actually entering the souls of exceptional actors.

Who have created from The Seagull perhaps the most modern, topical and heartbreakingly realistic staging. With a place for dialogue, interaction and thought from actor to audience in extenso.

Each with his own story, his own disappointments, his own hopes, his own personal disappointments, and frustrations. All in search of meaning. Through the lack of happiness. Determined by failure as a parent, failure as an individual, failure as a lover, failure as a person in the world of art. But all longing for a glimmer of better and the answers to the questions that plague us all. As individuals who should know our purpose and role in today's society.

Stupid Fucking Bird has all the je ne sais quoi that make this show grandly human.

Because, after all, what is theatre for if not the human?"

Andreea Mihalache, Daily Magazine

"I loved Aaron Posner's adaptation. The play keeps Chekhov's structure and characters intact (with the amendment that Masha becomes Mash, Konstantin becomes Connie, etc.), but instead brilliantly adapts the cultural context, from consumerism to pollution, parenting, global warming, and the fame craze. It does so without making a splash, in a well-rounded and natural way. Treplev's (in this version "Connie") performer Eduard Adam does what I thought was his best role yet, playing with emotion, anger and despair all in one. "Do you know why I want to change the world? Because I'm suffocating!" he shouts to Uncle Sorn (played masterfully by Marius Bodochi, my second favourite in the show). Connie is a tormented soul, and his sorrows are not the spleen of the Russian soul, as in the original Treplev, but the collective turmoil of our times.

"Why are you dressed in black? I'm mourning for my life," Mash says at the beginning of the play, and even though the 2h30 are also filled with good music, laughter and life, the mournful atmosphere lingers. "We destroy the world every day, but all we care about is snuggling up next to someone at night, hoping that he or she will make us forget all the things we've become aware of over the day".

"Stupid Fucking Bird" is a play that does not destroy Chekhov, as so many modernist adaptations unfortunately do, but brings him closer to the contemporary soul and adds truthful, unforced nuance. The actors speak directly to the audience at certain points, it is a play between music, dance and video installation, and everything flows naturally. I did not feel like any scene was just to shock the audience, because it all makes sense.

"If you're going to stick with something from this play, stick with this," says Marius Bodochi's character. "When you see an old man, think that you'll never know where he's been and with whom, what he's done and how he has lived."

Diana Cosmin, Fine Society

„Stupid Fucking Bird” by Aaron Posner, directed by Răzvan Oprea, at the „I.L. Caragiale” National Theatre of Bucharest is an accomplished remix after Chekhov’s „Seagull”. The play starts from the well-known characters who mourn their boredom and missing a lake on a Russian estate and transposes them into a fast-paced 21st century, exploring, however, the subtext of the original lapidary lines. We learn from the Americans Emma, ​​Sorn, Con, Dev what was in the souls of the Slavs Arkadina, Sorin, Kostea or Medvedenko. With a mathematical structure in which edifying extra-text monologues for each character are interspersed between the classic scenes, the play script offers an auspicious premise for a show on the edge between emotion and comedy, probably as Chekhov imagined his plays would be.

Răzvan Oprea's staging has the quality of not astonishing by inventions except where the dramatic structure allows it. A few deliberately cheesy-dramatic inserts that enhance the absurdity or involuntary humour of embarrassing situations or the thickened pathos of the actors in this meta-script from theatrein theatre.

"Stupid Fucking Bird" is a title that accurately characterizes this proposal not at all subjugated to the tribute to the great Chekhov, imbued with rebellion against the old and new forms of making soulless theatre. And as vulgar as it may sound to the prudish, it proves to be timely for deciphering the characters of yesteryear, explained in the language of today." 

Alina Epîngeac, Blog – That smart „Stupid Fucking Bird”!   

"Aaron Posner's remixed play - "Stupid Fucking Bird" - is a meta-theatrical text, far from a mere contemporary adaptation. So stage director Răzvan Oprea has brought out a well-chosen cast for this multi-generational version. The foray into the Chekhov universe is made in (post) modern steps. Posner excelled, bringing back his rebellious but revolutionary voice. Chekhov, through the character Kostea / Con in the American text: “Why new forms?” The playwright and director keep the typical Chekhovian emotions, but introduce (brutally) signs of the present time. Established members of the Bucharest National (Cecilia Bârbora and Marius Bodochi), together with their younger colleagues (Eduard Adam, Cosmina Olariu, Vitalie Bichir, Alexandra Sălceanu, Emilian Mârnea) simultaneously populate two worlds - that of Chekhov heroes and that of characters to Aaron Posner. So, in the first half of the current stage version, the tone is explosive-innovative, against the background of the call launched by Kostea (Konstantin from Chekhov's play), who advocated the introduction of "new forms". For example, the performance is full of modern tropes: dance scenes, direct addressing and interaction with the audience, using the video camera, as a video chat confessional. The second part is on the border with naturalism and brings together the actors in emotional scenes, which intertwine with some monologic confessions. "Stupid Fucking Bird" is an irreverent update, bringing to the fore themes of unrequited love, emotional distress (presented as a permanent Oprahization). The "dispute" between Aaron Posner and 'old' Chekhov revealed a performance sometimes mischievous, funny, anxious, but truthful."

Madalina  Dumitrache, Bel-Esprit - The Seagull in Oprah Style  

"Stupid fucking bird”. A plastic surgery, rather aesthetic than reparative, on a possible superficial, anticipated between the cracks of the wall erected by contemporaneity to all that means classical. Skillfully brought from the twilight of the nineteenth century into today's aurora (that we can't just call it everyday) by Aaron Posner. The realities of nowadays, valid in all corners of the world (which consumerism has gathered today, in English, under the umbrella of a recognizable universal, unprecedented by humanity throughout its history) and which intelligently explores its themes, from pollution and global heating to consumerism, popularity and snobbery, the precious dramatic stone carefully polished by Aaron Posner is wonderfully integrated by Răzvan Oprea into a ready-to-wear theatrical jewel on the stage of the Bucharest National, only good to wear on the lapel for a successful theatrical evening. Chekhov's text and characters are carefully cut out, explained, updated. Then packed, not at all discreet, in today's layers and skilfully tucked under the skin, jeans, plastic, paper, foil and confetti, only good to place on the shelf, to be admired and bought with confidence from the supermarket-show that brilliantly respects the rigours to the classic, gradually matching it, until its replacement, to the showbiz of this century. To be bought with confidence by spectators of all ages, tastes, pretensions, and even cultural stubbornness.

It excels in acting, faithful in all the constructions to the Russian playwright's intentions and carefully analysed, updated and recomposed by the seven actors on stage in robust, relevant, full of energy, sadness, candour, frankness, plausible and false performances, carefully mixed and dosed to recreate the Chekhovian world and explain in a language worthy of 2021 the nuances and rhythms that have ensured its longevity and artistic vigour for so long on so many stages of the world. "

Luciana Antofi, Blog - Chekhov's Seagull Disjointed at NTB    

 

Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

"Rhinoceros" magazine award for male performance: Marius Bodochi, for the role of Sorn in Stupid Fucking Bird, 2021

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