The Seagull

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The Seagull, (Russian: Чайка, Chayka) is a play by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)[1].

The original text

Written as Чайка (Chayka in the Roman alphabet) in 1895, it was first produced at the Alexandrinsky Theatre, St Petersburg in 1896, but failed. However, it was revived and a success when performed by the Moscow Art Theatre a while later. Today it is generally considered to be the first of his four major plays.

Translations and adaptations


Widely translated and adapted for the stage, film and TV, the play has had a vast influence on world theatre.

Translated into English as The Seagull by Elisaveta Fen.

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Seemeeu by Robert Mohr (unpublished)

Translated into Afrikaans as Die Seemeeu by André P. Brink. Published by Human & Rousseau, 1972, as Die Seemeeu : 'n komedie in vier bedrywe, reprinted a number of times since.

Die Seemeeu, an updated and adapted Afrikaans text was written by Saartjie Botha in 2015. (Unpublished)

South African responses to the text

Two Afrikaans plays, Die Eend ("The Duck"), an Afrikaans adaptation by Charles Fourie and Reza de Wet's English play On the Lake, were inspired by and in part based on the Chekhov work.

Performance history in South Africa

The play has been performed numerous times in South Africa, in translation and in adapted form.

Performances in English translation

First South African performance in 19** by **.

1931: This was the play used for the opening performance in the Little Theatre, Cape Town, presented by the Little Theatre Players, directed by Arthur Sewell with students and staff of the South African College of Music on 18 August 1931.

1941: Performed by The Johannesburg Reps starring Taubie Kushlick.

1945: Performed at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg. Produced by Margaret Lassner for the Johannesburg Repertory Society, with Taubie Kushlick, Rognvald Gibsen, David Goldblatt, Christina Jaures, Fred Loehnen, Jocelyn de Bruyn, Norman Torry.

1968: Presented by the Little Theatre Players at the Little Theatre, Cape Town, in November, directed by Rosalie van der Gucht.

1976: Performed by The Company, directed by Barney Simon, for the “unofficial opening” of the Market Theatre on 21 June (using the small theatre Upstairs at the Market), with Erica Rogers, Vanessa Cooke, Sandra Prinsloo, Bill Brewer, Marius Weyers, Danny Keogh, Lindsay Reardon and Bess Finney.

1982: Performed at the Glass Theatre, Cape Town, directed by Chris Pretorius.

1987: Performed by CAPAB at the Nico Malan Theatre, directed and designed by Marthinus Basson, assisted as director by Mark Hoeben. Lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. The cast: Diane Wilson (Arkadina), Lionel Newton (Trepliov), Paul Malherbe (Sorin), Pauline O'Kelly (Zaryechnaia), Ronald France (Shamrayev), Mary Dreyer (Polena Andryeevna), Claire Berlein (Masha), David Dennis (Trigorin), André Roothman (Dorn), Mark Graham (Medviedenko), Mark Hoeben (Yakov) and others. The production opened on 22 May 1987.

1990: Presented by PACT Drama at the Windybrow Theatre and the State Theatre, directed by Ilse van Hemert starring Sandra Prinsloo (Arkadina}, Christopher Wells (Trepliov}, Michael McCabe (Sorin), Embeth Davidtz (Zaryechnaia), Dale Cutts (Shamrayev), Jacqui Singer (Polena Andreevna), Anna-Mart van der Merwe (Masha), Graham Hopkins (Trigorin), James Borthwick (Dorn), Peter Terry (Medviedenko) and Nick Nortier-Ashby (a workman). Set and costume designer Lindy Roberts, lighting designer Jane Gosnell.

2006: Presented by UCT Drama Department to celebrate the Little Theatre's 75th anniversary, directed by Liz Mills, with Kate Liquorish (Irina), Jason Potgieter (Treplov), Albert Pretorius (Sorin), Alicia McCormick (Nina), Faadhil Cupido, Briony Horwitz, Nathan Fredericks (Trigorin), Charlie Keegan, Lungi Pinda and Ariella Caira (cellist) at the Little Theatre, Orange Street.

Performances in Afrikaans translation

1972: The Mohr translation performed by PACT in the Breytenbach Theatre in August, directed by Robert Mohr with Wilna Snyman, Don Lamprecht, Carel Trichardt, Sandra Prinsloo, Wilma Stockenström, Katinka Heyns, Marius Weyers, Louis van Niekerk, Marko van der Colff, David Eppel, Karin van Wyk and George Ballot. Decor by Richard Cook and costumes by Tom Owen.

1972/3: It would appear from the 1976 published text that the Brink translation was commissioned by the Performing Arts Council of the Orange Free State (PACOFS), who held the right to the first performance. [Details about the production are still being sought.]

1996: The Brink translation performed by the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department at the H.B. Thom Theatre in November 1996, directed by Shirley Johnston, starring Nicole Holm, Nico Dreyer, Paul du Toit, Leanna Dreyer, Paul van Wyk, Keith Bain, Martelize Kolver, Amelda Brand, Gaerin Hauptfleisch, Jaco Bouwer, Hugo Theart, Albert Snyman.

2009: The Brink translation performed by second year drama students of the University of the Free State, on the Wynand Mouton Theatre 17-20 March, directed by Gerben Kamper with Edelweiss Bester, Drikus Saayman, Quintus Aslett, Sanli Jooste, Brandon Hewetson, Corma Steyn, Mieke du Plessis, Caval Goodyear, Frantz Birkholtz, Frans Fourie, Makara Makara, Kgomotso Lebakeng and Lerato Chipfupa.

2015: An adapted text by Saartjie Botha, produced in Afrikaans as Die Seemeeu, directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Gerben Kamper, Alyzzander Fourie, Deon Lotz, Rolanda Marais, Martelize Kolver, Albert Pretorius, Geon Nel and Cintaine Schutte. Designs by Birrie le Roux, lighting by Wolf Britz and music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder. Opened at the Afrikaanse Woordfees in Stelllenbosch in March, and played at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in April, the Aardklop festival in July and the Baxter Theatre in October.

South African film & TV versions

There have been two South African TV versions of the play.

Die Seemeeu (Stephan Bouwer, 1986)

According to IMDb[2], this TV film used Robert Mohr's translation, which Stephan Bouwer adapted, produced and directed for TV. The cast consisted of Sandra Prinsloo, Marcel van Heerden, Alex Heyns, Elize Cawood, André Jacobs, Selma van der Vyver, Percy Sieff, Wilma Stockenström, Ernst Eloff, Frantz Dobrowsky,

Cinematography by Charles Bengis Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Magda Sydow ... assistant director

Die Seemeeu (Christiaan Olwagen, 2018)

Saartjie Botha's 2015 stage version was adapted as an Afrikaans film by Christiaan Olwagen and Saartjie Botha, and transposed to South Africa in the 1990's. The film was directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with a cast that includes Sandra Prinsloo (Irene), Marius Weyers (Piet), Albert Pretorius (Konstant), Rolanda Marais(Nina), Cintaine Schutte (Masha), Gerben Kamper (Dr. Eugene), Deon Lotz (Elias), Martelize Kolver (Paulina), Geon Nel (Simon) and Alyzzander Fourie (Boors), Bennie Michaels (Jakob) and Margie Michaels (Anna).

Produced by Marche Media and producers Jan du Plessis, Karen Meiring, Jaco Smit, Roelof Storm, Anneke Villet and Kaye Ann Williams.

Music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, cinematography by Chris Vermaak, film editing and script supervision by Eva du Preez, production design by Rocco Pool, set decoration by Stefan Benadé, costume design by Mariechen Vosloo, production manager Jaco Nothnagel, assistant directors Beer Adriaanse, Jaco Smit and Elle Wolfaardt; sound Michael Broomberg, Jade Hill, David Houston, James Olivier, Simon Ratcliffe, Carl Roberts, Jack Van Wyk, Louw Verwoerd and Richard West, and on-line editor and post-production supervisor Matthys Pretorius.


Inskip, 1972. pp 119, 154.

South African Opinion, 2(4):23, 1945.

PACT Newsletter, June 1972.

The Seagull theatre programmes 1987, 1990.

H.B. Thom Theatre programme, 1996

Baxter Theatre Centre: What's on in November? (Thursday, October 22, 2015).

BooksLive, 15 September 2015[3]

'The Seagull', IOL, 22 March 2006

Tucker, 1997.

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