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Productions

Dramaturgical Resources

2021

Stupid Fucking Bird

By Aaron Posner

Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.

We hope you find these resources of interest.

Aaron Posner

Aaron Posner (above)

Playwright Aaron Posner is an Eisenhower Fellow with a BS in performance studies from Northwestern University. He is currently a theater faculty member at American University in Washington DC. In addition to teaching and scriptwriting, Posner is an accomplished director known for his “riveting productions of the classics.” He speaks with satisfaction of his varied “lives” and specialties within theater production in this interview with American Theater.

In approaching Stupid Fucking Bird, a modern adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, Posner was looking to revitalize what was a radical piece that once spoke directly to the lives of those who watched it but which has become old and traditional. In this interview he discusses making these heartbreaking and visceral stories of humanity a little radical again. To do this, he played in Chekhov’s playground, but created his own play and his own characters who are cousins to the original. In doing so, he has been able to craft something that is entirely new, but which could, possibly, do for modern audiences what The Seagull did for the audiences of 1896. You can read more about Posner and the writing of Stupid Fucking Birdhere and here.

With the current state of the world and a return to in-person theater, the UR International Theater Program is working within current guidelines for Covid-19 risk reduction and as such are rehearsing with all mask mandates carefully adhered to. As such, our actors are faced with the difficult task of portraying these deeply flawed, utterly human characters with only half of their faces visible. This may seem to be an impossible task, but the history of masks in the theater is long and varied and we are provided a unique opportunity to push the bounds of theater in a play about pushing the bounds of theater. You can learn more about the history of masks in theater (more here) and what it means for modern plays here.

As our theatrical team undertakes the production of this award-winning play there has been a focus on the humanity of the characters. The characters in the original Seagull were flawed and utterly human and so also are the characters within Stupid Fucking Bird. The play addresses the love and fear that drives each of them and for that, our actors must undertake individual journeys to discover the push and pull of their character.

Erik Eriksson’s Stages of Psychological Development provide insight into the driving forces behind some of the characters’ biggest internal questions. For many of our characters, they are in a stage of intimacy vs isolation, striving for love and connection and suffering the consequences of failing in the search for it. Other’s are transitioning into or grappling with, the final stage of life, that of Integrity or Despair; have they lived a life they’re proud of, or have they wasted precious time? How do they answer their own internal questions and how would others watching answering them for them?

Self-discovery and questions of identity are central to much of what happens to the characters of Stupid Fucking Bird and with it, we grapple with significant issues of mental health. Within the script are echoes of the effects of a narcissistic parent, an inability to feel emotion, and heavy themes of suicidal ideation (please see below for suicide prevention resources*).

 

*If you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of suicidal ideation please reach out by dialing 211 or reach out to the University Health Systems crisis line (585) 275-3113.  You can also make an appointment to speak with a counselor with the University Health Systems here. For additional resources visit MHA Rochester, Nami Rochester, or the Suicide Prevention Coalition to find resources for yourself, or to help in their work to save lives.