January 21, 2014 at 7:00pm
Curated and Directed by Jean Sherrard
In the Bullitt Cabaret

Running Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes (including an intermission)

"Holy fools" roam the Russian literary landscape. Gogol's madmen, Dostoyevsky's idiot, and Gorky's monks wander the wards of Chekhov, Tolstoy's Yasnaya Polyana, and the gulags of Solzhenitsyn, throwing stones at devils and conversing with angels. This reading is an exploration of this foundational theme of Russian literature through the works of Pushkin, Chekhov, Gogol, and more.

Part of the series: The Great Soul of Russia

SeagullThe Seagull Project was formed out of a passion for the great works of Anton Chekhov. Having met and collaborated on Seattle Shakespeare Company's wildly successful Threepenny Opera in 2011, the founding producers immediately sought a new collaboration; one which allowed the actors to take the time needed to create an ensemble and honor the work of Chekhov with bravery, honesty, simplicity, and elegance. In January of 2013, they opened The Seagull in ACT's Falls Theatre, garnering both audience and critical acclaim. In April of 2014, The Seagull Project will have the great distinction of becoming the first American ensemble in history to perform at the Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan - a Seattle sister city. Upon their return, they will begin work on Chekhov's Three Sisters, which will be produced through the Central Heating Lab in 2015, ACT's 50th anniversary year. Learn more about The Seagull Project at www.theseagullproject.org.

By Jean Sherrard, Director of Madmen and Holy Fools

Madmen and holy fools have always flourished in Russian culture—in folktales, literature, and religion. Saint Basil, whose stunning onion-domed cathedral dominates Red Square, wandered the streets of Moscow naked, weighed down by chains, shoplifting and giving the proceeds to the poor to shame the miserly. He spoke truth to power, rebuking even Ivan the Terrible for his brutality, conversing with angels and lobbing stones at the devil. Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov—all shared a fascination with this essential Russian archetype, and explored it to great effect. 

Jonathan Miller, the acclaimed British stage director, appeared at Seattle's Town Hall several years ago and spoke extemporaneously and brilliantly on the role of the fool in Shakespeare. He suggested that, while England has no native tradition of Carnival, as virtually every Romance culture does, it suffices with the Shakespearian fool, who suspends rules and regulations, mocking kings and commoners in equal measure; each fool, thereby contains his own carnival, his own upending of traditions and social conventions through chaotic inspiration.