Inside STUPID FUCKING BIRD Part Two: That Lightbulb Moment Inside STUPID FUCKING BIRD Part Two: That Lightbulb Moment
Now, like Connie, I’m usually the first to roll his eyes at attempts to make plays “accessible,” but I have to admit that Posner... Inside STUPID FUCKING BIRD Part Two: That Lightbulb Moment

Pictured: The cast of STUPID FUCKING BIRD. Photo by Cynthia Levin.

In this 3-part series, PerformInk takes you inside Unicorn Theatre’s production of STUPID FUCKING BIRD through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes. To read past “Inside” articles click here.


By Dramaturg Calan Welder

We’ve all heard complaints about Chekhov’s plays being nothing more than a handful of characters wallowing in self-pity and existential angst. The tired complaints that The Seagull is a story of people with no real problems. I get it, I really do. I’ve always loved Chekhov and his plays, but like so many others, I feel that there’s something missing. Whether it’s in the staging or in the interpretations, or even the cultural boundaries that distance us from nineteenth-century Russian nuance, something is lost in translation. For me, working through the script and watching actors make discoveries opened my eyes to the ways STUPID FUCKING BIRD tears down those walls to reveal the heart of the story.

Now, like Connie, I’m usually the first to roll his eyes at attempts to make plays “accessible,” but I have to admit that Posner has done something magical with his play. What I began to realize in rehearsals, and what was made abundantly clear in performance, was that these characters are real people doing what real people do. All Posner did to open my eyes to that simple fact was to take Chekhov’s people out of their historical context and give them a language I could relate to, a language that’s distinctly twenty-first century American. Here were seven contemporary actors, playing contemporary characters, in a contemporary setting. And suddenly the classic became real and tangible to me. That lightbulb moment showed me what it is that has always attracted me to Chekhov’s plays.

I first fell in love with STUPID FUCKING BIRD when I managed an undergraduate production while I was in college. The script was gritty; it was clever. It was sardonic and callous in all the right ways. So when I was offered the dramaturg’s position for the Unicorn Theatre’s production, I couldn’t say “no” to the opportunity to uncover what makes the play tick.

With a story so chock-full of despair, and love, and angst, and loss, it’s hard to pin down any one theme or message. But if I were made to choose, I’d say the play is about people trying to find somewhere they belong. What makes trouble for them is their unwillingness to settle for anything less than their highest expectations. Of course, this all sounds like the perfect Holiday family drama, right? But don’t be fooled. As dark as it may sound, it’s truly a touching drama that’s sure to warm your heart with love and laughter and a heavy dose of joyful sorrow.


STUPID FUCKING BIRD runs through December 23rd. For more information visit unicorntheatre.org.

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