Production Blog

A behind the scenes peek at rehearsals, artistic choices, artist interviews, and the daily business of running a theatre.

A word with director Emily Scott Banks about the test of time

Q: Stupid F*cking Bird is a contemporary and irreverent riff on Chekhov’s The Seagull - it takes the classic Russian comedy and turns it inside out, bringing it into the modern day. What do you think it is about this story that has stood the test of time and has inspired this provocative, bold new “sort-of” adaptation?

A: Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull has been translated into every major language, and been adapted over 20 times for theatre, film, ballet and opera; yet plot-wise, seemingly little actually happens. The central focus of the work is the prominence of feelings, which in their truthful intensity become the action. Tension between the older and younger generations becomes a metaphor for the war between established and emerging art, vibrancy and death, fame and obscurity. Big stuff, sounds like a possible snooze - and yet the play, both in the original and especially in Aaron Posner’s scatological yet ultimately respectful version, is terribly, darkly funny. Mordant and somehow optimistic, this story has delighted audiences and theater-makers for over 130 years and shows no signs of slowing down.


Photo by Paul Moseley pmoseley [at] star-telegram.com  "Working on scenery positioning with cast member Garret Storms, left, Emily Scott Banks is directing her third play for Stage West in Fort Worth." The image accompanied the article: http://www.star-telegram.com/entertainment/performing-arts/article127125...

A chat with SFB actor Matthew Grondin about "the meta"

Q: "Stupid F*cking Bird" is a show that is very aware of itself - that is to say that the characters know that they are in a play and, at times, comment to the audience about their role in the story. What do you find interesting or challenging about this conceit and what excites you about this play?

A: I love this play, and the world that Posner has written. One thing that really excites me about doing live theatre, is finding those moments in rehearsal when you, as your character, feel several different emotions about one given circumstance all at the same time. Maybe you’re pissed off about something, but then you feel sad for the other person involved - but then also guilty that you got pissed off. And then maybe even a little satisfied that they feel bad - but then you’re mad at yourself for feeling that way! And that, I think, is what happens in real life. Rarely do I find that I have just one single thought about things. I think there’s often a struggle. And Posner has written characters that really allow you to explore that struggle. And if we as actors have challenged ourselves to dig into this during rehearsals, each performance will have many different colors that pop up and surprise everyone on stage! Maybe one night you’re more upset, and the next night you find that same moment a little more ridiculous. But you’ve explored the world of your character enough to trust all that is correct - and then you are free to just communicate and live with the other actors on stage.

An added layer of this that’s particularly fun in this specific play, is that there are almost several worlds that are all happening at the same time. (I’ve never been in a play where the word “meta” was used so much in rehearsals!) I’m playing the role of Dev - but in a way, I’m also playing myself (Matt) playing the role of Dev - and being able to comment on the circumstances that Dev is finding himself in. And because of that, it adds a whole other level of feelings and emotions that may or may not be perfectly jiving with each other. And that’s messy and complicated. And, for better or worse - that’s how life is. And I think a big reason people go to the theatre is to see others in real-life circumstances, and then get a snapshot into how they deal with it.

The Ghost Lights

An email came in today from our new Technical Director Natalie R. Mabry. She had, she wrote, installed "Ghost Lights" on the stages. Interesting! I thought. As the Marketing Director, I'd never heard of a Ghost Light, except from folks talking about visting Marfa maybe. However, since I was a theater kid in High School, I know that theater is filled with weird traditions and interestingly-named things. I suspected there would be a good story behind whatever the heck Ghost Lights were. Plus it is October, the traditional month of ghosts, how could I NOT look into it?!

And I was not disappointed! It turns out that a Ghost Light is a light set up center stage and illuminated whenever the theater is unoccupied by the living staff. Wooooo! "Ghost lights provide opportunities for ghosts to perform onstage, thus appeasing them and preventing them from cursing the theater or sabotaging the set or production." Also, they also make it easier for the living staff to not trip over random objects when you make your way to the Ancient Filing Cabinet or go to fish programs out from under seats in a pitch black theater. Up until now, staff generally illuminated their path with their phone as they threaded their way amongst pieces of ancient Troy or through Ann Richard's office. So, three cheers for Natalie and the Ghost Lights! And break a leg to our ghostly performers. 

Jen Schultes, Marketing Director

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