Actor Ebrahim Al Kumairi during the rehearsal of a play based on Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. The Resuscitation Theatre is giving its own touch to the 115-year-old play. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Those seeking a unique night out at the theatre need not look hard anymore, for the Resuscitation Theatre is staging an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, using elements that breathe new life into the 115-year-old play.

"This is definitely going to be an interesting experience for audience because our aim is not to just make our performance another ‘night out at the theatre'. We use the entire performance area as one big stage so the audience then by extension becomes a part of the play, whether through direct interactions or just by experience the action up close," Maggie Hannan, Artistic Director, Resuscitation Theatre, said.

This is not the first time the Resuscitation Theatre had staged a performance in the capital. In 2009, Hannan staged an all female performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet in The Club, which was originally conceived and staged in the UK in 2005 as part of V:Day - Until the Violence Stops global campaign to stop violence against women and girls.

Big response

"While the capital has already hosted various performances, I wasn't sure how many people would turn out for auditions for the play. It was amazing to see 36 people turn up to audition for four roles when I put an advertisement about it a few months ago," Hannan told Gulf News.

Four persons were chosen and rehearsals began almost immediately at the New York Film Academy - Abu Dhabi campus. For several hours a week, the cast, Fatima Al Taei (Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya, the daughter of a rich landowner), Zena Ebrahim (Irina Nikolayevna Arkadina, an actress), Ebrahim Al Kumairi (Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov, Irina's son, a playwright) and Dilan Pasha, along with Hannan, live and breathe their characters, making sure that no elements are missed in the play, which is condensed from its original four hours to just one.

"This is my first theatre acting debut and so far it's been an amazing experience. It's different to acting on screen. In a film, we don't need to put a lot of effort into projecting our characters because the slightest glance, tone… are easily captured by the cameras. On stage, we have to put more effort in expressing ourselves and making sure the audience follows the plot," Ebrahim, a student at New York Film Academy, said. "But I wanted to show fellow Emiratis that such avenues are available for us to explore, especially as not many are aware or interested in exploring their creative sides this way," he added.

Fatima agreed, and noted that because of the script's language she sometimes had to translate several lines to make sure she understood their meaning. That led to her walking around and reciting the script out loud at home, much to the bemusement of her family.

"I found that it helped to walk around our home while acting out the scenes…my family quickly learnt to leave me alone when I do that because otherwise I try to rope them into reading lines with me," said Fatima, a recent graduate of the Academy, said, laughing.

"One of the challenges for me is keeping a straight face when bandaging Ebrahim's character's head in a scene. For some reason, I keep dissolving into fits of giggles and have to start over…hopefully when we're performing, I'll be able to keep a straight face!" Zena said, smiling.

All those involved in the play, from acting to production, readily admitted that the experience was one that they enjoyed immensely and hoped that audience members not only connect with the story but also leave believing that it is possible to stage similar productions in the future.

"This performance is very interactive, which is something many people have never experienced before but it will be interesting to see how they react and adapt to the fact that there isn't a traditional boundary between them and the stage. I hope that they also go home and not just understand the play but the reason why it was staged like that…it's a revolutionary piece of work and I hope it encourages more people to go to such venues," Maggie said.

Be there

WHERE: Resuscitation Theatre's production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull will be performed at the One toOne Hotel — the Village, Abu Dhabi

WHEN: April 27, 29 and 30

TIME: 8pm