First Draft Review: Stupid F*cking Bird

Comment your first draft reviews of Stupid F*cking Bird here.

10 Comments on “First Draft Review: Stupid F*cking Bird

  1. STUPID F*CKING BIRD presented by Northern Essex Community College
    Review by Andrea Vargas – Rhode Island College
    Stupid Fucking Bird is Super Fucking Amazing. If you hate Chekhov, then you will love this!
    Stupid Fucking Bird is written by American playwright Aaron Posner as an adaptation of The Seagull written by king of existentialism – Anton Chekov.
    Stupid Fucking Bird is a show where we are reminded that “We are here” and asks us questions like “why do we do what we do in the mundane day to day?” The cast does this in a mix of scripted, immersive theatre, a touch of improv, and lots of fourth wall breaking, and we are brought on the life journey of a total of seven characters whom all represent different emotions we feel as humans through our years on earth. Don’t get me wrong, this show did have me feeling a bit depressed at points, but it also had me feeling very empowered! The character of Mash had me not only embracing my inner emo kid, but also reminded me that we deserve the love we let ourselves have. Her character arc in particular had me on the edge of my seat and cheering for her the whole time. Her acting was so incredible that there were moments where the tension the character carried on their body was felt in my own skin. As an extra bonus, the performer has a lovely voice with a unique quality to it that I just adored. On the other side of the spectrum, we have my other favorite character, Dev, who reminded me of the young joker or fool who starts off as a goofy young man with only good intentions, who then grows in to a loving father and is there to bring words of wisdom when you least expect them This plays the role of taking the tension off when needed the most in the storyline. While these two characters stuck out to me the most, the entire cast produced outstanding work!
    Lighting in the show had its stand out moments but there were a couple of spots where lighting did get sloppy. I will let that one slide due to this show being put on at a completely different venue than it was designed for at its home theatre I am curious as to what it looked like originally. I am also curious if the original set was as minimalistic as the set presented here, which, may I add, fit the space well and didn’t take away from the acting which can sometimes happen in small theatres like this one. They even paid homage to Chekov himself with a portrait of him hanging between two questionably draped curtains. I thought costumes were lovely and brought each of the characters to life but didn’t give us a specific time period which gives this show a timeless feel. The sound design was well done with what was given, but I think we could have added some transition music between most scenes. I do however respect the choice to not do so, considering that we were constantly reminded that this show is “real life” and not just a story.
    All in all, Northern Essex Community College put on a “Fucking Amazing” production of Posner’s modern take on Chekov’s existential story telling. The Direction by Brianne Beatrice and Sarah Durning had me feeling a full range of emotions. If you get me leaving a theatre with my heart racing, then you have done something right!

  2. Stupid Fucking Bird
    Reviewed by Dylan Bowden

    “Thank you, Chekhov, and fuck you.”

    Pardon my French, but such were the words of a beautiful homage presented by Northern Essex Community College in a production that warmed my big, fat Russian heart.

    “Stupid Fucking Bird” by Aaron Posner is a modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull”. Now, I’ve seen my share of Chekhov plays (it’s basically a requirement for anyone with a Russian-born parent) – but of course, I’m only human. And let’s face it: Chekhov can be a lot to process. Even so, I do appreciate the accurate representation of Russian life that can be found in a Chekhov play. And while I firmly believe that his plays can be translated and modernized without sacrificing their authenticity, I have not seen many adaptations of Chekhov that have very successfully accomplished this feat.

    Northern Essex Community College’s production, I’m happy to report, is a fresh and lively exception. Good acting and strong direction – mixed with Aaron Posner’s unforgivably honest writing – made for an excellent production and performance.

    The show opened with the angsty Mash (Gwynnethe Glickman), channeling the loneliness and despair of a thousand Russian hearts in her characterization. Glickman did not hold back in her performance, either; breaking the fourth wall to truly convey her angst, she witheringly referred to a group of latecomers who didn’t “care to show up on time.” Carlyle Bien-Aime offered a unique take on Con, which I thoroughly enjoyed: an innocent young man who stays innocent despite the dire situation that surrounds him, which he clearly communicated through a crushing monologue. Dierdree Glassford infused the role of Emma, the matriarch, with great conviction – I fell in love with her character just moments into the show. Joshua Schulz, Armando Belliard-Harmon, and Christian Doyle all gave excellent performances throughout the show as well.

    “Stupid Fucking Bird” is unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s a play that’s uncompromisingly grounded in reality – every time you think you’re entering a new theatrical universe, you are forced to acknowledge that, “You are here.” In the face of all the injustices we see in our world daily, Northern Essex Community College offers us “Stupid Fucking Bird”, a/k/a “Bleakness wrapped up in a pretty pink bow,” a/k/a something we all need to see.
    Theatre is a form of reality told through storytelling. Stupid Fucking Bird is reality. Bravo to the Northern Essex Community College cast and crew.

  3. Stupid Fucking Bird
    Review by Jhada-Ann Walker

    Stupid Fucking Bird is a dramatic mixture of interlude and satire, performed by Northern Essex Community College. Written by American playwright, Aaron Posner, the play is based on the contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. The play speaks out on present day mindset and approach to the world we live in. It expounds upon the various lifestyles of different individuals whether the trials they face or the victory they receive. For example, the main character, Conrad is a playwright who yearns to succeed in his new play, however with constant betrayal and rejection by his own mother and Nina, he seems to be stuck in his sorrow. Whereas, Trig a successful artist always get the attention and fame for his work without giving it much thought.
    The purpose of this play is to evoke some real emotion for the things we do to people and how humans should make clever decisions in life. It is very relatable as the live interactions with the audience forms a connection to the play, the direct speech and the scattering of the actors in the audience allows for self reflection. Along with that, the theater space is just perfect as it creates a dynamic and friendly atmosphere with the stage in the center. Though the music and the sound effects were just right, the lighting could have been more effective by intensifying it at the necessary situations to build more on the mood and tone throughout the performance.
    Seven different characters were showcased by seven consistent strong convincing actors who delivered the play so well. An outstanding character is Mash, because of her vibrant, attention grabbing and witty personality played well by the actress. The production was clear and I loved the informative demonstrations and movement on stage and in the audience by the choice of the director. One thing that stood out for me was when the entire audience sang Happy birthday for the scene that really brought me into the play. During the play I sat and just accepted the fact that I was being counseled on my own action, feelings and thoughts. Stupid Fucking Bird is a mirror held up to reality.

  4. “Start the fucking play!”

    Absurd, tragic, and deeply impactful, Northern Essex Community College’s production of Stupid Fucking Bird had me hooked shortly after the first F-Bomb flew. I have always been a lover of well-timed dark comedy and the ensemble of this production was excellent in their execution. The absurd silliness and celebration within their performance, paired with the harsh reality of the plays subject matter made a perfect balancing act which was able to exhibit the plays messages without having to mope in eternal doom and gloom. Not to mention, the extensive interactive relationship between the actors and the audience, which ranged from audience call outs to an impromptu dance on stage, felt natural not forced. I am typically someone who wants the actors to remain out of the audience and the 4th wall to remain sturdy and intact. However, I enjoyed the immersive nature and felt that it added an extra quality to the production, resulting in some of my favorite moments.

    The best part, you don’t have to know The Seagull, Chekhov’s original play, before entering the theatre to appreciate the artistic liberates playwright Aaron Posner has taken in his adaption. In fact, even if you have read or seen Chekhov’s iconic play, you are bound to be surprised and delighted in the action as it unfolds in Stupid Fucking Bird.

  5. Jamie Roberts Review of: “Stupid Fucking Bird”
    An adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull”
    By Aaron Posner
    Northern Essex Community College at KCACTF Region 1
    January 30th, 2019

    Do not be late to Northern Essex Community College’s “Stupid Fucking Bird” at the Kennedy Centre American College Theatre Region 1 Festival as the actors and actresses are not hesitant to call you out. This contemporary metaplay explores Conrad’s (Con’s) life as an unhappy aspiring playwright whose blinded by the falsities of “ love” in finding his life motive. “Stupid Fucking Bird” delved heavily into the themes of life purpose/fulfilled life, true love, and happiness vs. unhappiness.
    The play began to captivate me in acts two and three when the buildups in character choices correlated with the script. In act one, it seems like characters come to conclusions or heightened events without continual growth. Connie and Nina had a great scene in the second half when Con’s insecurity was shown in his persistent questions about their love. Both the actor and actress took time expressing the physical and emotional different dimensions their characters were feeling throughout this scene. I’d like to note the woman playing Mash had such a captivating quality in her tone of voice in which she activated her lower register with a raspy tone that compelled me to listen to Mash more attentively.
    Posner’s adaptation touches on similar themes of Chekhov’s with contemporary twists such as talking about racism, contemporary theatre, and the war on…well the war on basically everything. The characters in “Stupid Fucking Bird” are solid, real characters that make it easy for the audience to emphasize with. I found it compelling that all characters were different yet had common mirrored feelings such as being unhappy in love and life, loving with no love returned, and reasoning why people should not judge someone’s past. The script over feeds us in themes and metaphors that prevent us from personally coming to the revelation. Nina’s metaphor of being the seagull was evident from Con’s actions before the end of act one. There was no need for her monologue in the latter half of the play that kept elaborating how she was the seagull that he killed. I find it intriguing how this play is Con’s story yet he is the only one we are not allowed to know the ending of. “Stupid Fucking Bird” reminds us that being unhappy in finding life purpose is something many go through, and thusly we are more alike than we think.

  6. Stupid Fucking Bird was an enjoyable performance that was not afraid to break the 4th wall. If you’ve been too afraid to see The Seagull, or any other Chekov piece for that matter this is a wonderful alternative. However Northern Essex seemed to suffer in this foreign space. The lighting design and execution looked rather sloppy, and I consistently saw spotlights fading out before the full lights would come back on, creating a brief moment of unplanned confusion as the actors were all in the dark. The set was effectively sparse, and while I wish the gunshot was louder, the sound design overall sounded fine to me.
    As for the actors, I must say that the Actor playing Mash stole the show for me. She had an immensely strong presence on stage, and was the most engaging with the audience, and I have to give her huge props for deciding on the fly to drop her out of tune ukulele for her first song and get the audience to clap to a simple beat. It kept the song from sounding bad and broke the ice with the audience very well. While everyone else held up, I sadly have to say that I felt Con was torn between two worlds of playing Campy and playing serious, and while he seems to be effective at both, his inconsistencies pulled me out of the piece several times.
    I’d ultimately recommend the show, but it may not be for everyone. If you don’t want to sit in a theater where the audience constantly humms in a pretense of thought, and snaps in agreement to thoughts that will be contradicted in two minutes you may wish to pass, but if you can put up with that it’ll entertain you if nothing else.

  7. In Aaron Posner’s Stupid F*cking Bird, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, there are plenty of fourth-wall breaks. In fact, it’s like the fourth-wall between actors and audience, between the world of the play and the one we live in, barely even existed at all in Northern Essex Community College’s production, which was remounted this week for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The play, which is completely self-aware from the start, started when Conrad—Con, for short— walked on stage and said the play wouldn’t begin until the audience told them to “start the f*cking play.”

    “Start the f*cking play,” echoed the audience, and from there, we were off; both actors and audience members, on a metatheatrical journey for the next two and a half hours, where everyone was forced to take a hard look at reality. “We are here,” the play reminds us. ‘Here’ could be defined as something completely different for every single person in the audience, but nonetheless the sentiment remains. From beginning to end, characters experience highs and lows, heightened emotions, heartbreak, questions of existence, and moments of genuine hopelessness.

    The script provides for all seven characters to have full arcs, and the sublime acting all around let these characters arc be seen and lived in. A particular standout was Mash, who never let her character drop for even a second. Her biting lines paired with the actresses facial expressions. Her beautiful singing voice paired with ironic lyrics about life and living, and body language and physicality all embodied Mash fully. Even when she was just in the background of a scene, she shined. Both Emma and Sorn are characters traditionally played by actors older than the other five characters, but both actors embodied the characters so well that the age difference still managed to come across. Con was also a standout, as he delivered some of the show’s most heartbreaking monologues and moments with such passion that it was easy to empathize with him and his pain.

    The show fit the Tilden Studio Theater very well, making use of nearly every useable space there was. I particularly loved the way the stairs were utilized as entrances and exits more frequently than the wings of the stage. It really helped with feeling like the audience was right in there with the cast of seven. The set, though sparse, was made up entirely of useful pieces; six chairs and a cart that doubled as a platform, and more frequently, a bar.

    Many theatergoers look to the theater as a form of escapism, but with Stupid F*cking Bird, it is impossible to escape the injustices of daily life or the small things in each of our lives that may be making us individually unhappy. It’s important that we face these things sometimes, though, and that’s exactly why this play was so beautifully affecting.

  8. After having read Chekov’s drawn-out play of insufferable characters myself, known as The Seagull, the idea a contemporary version was quite intriguing. Would it actually possible to make anything remotely Chekov related even partially enjoyable?

    On Wednesday, January 30th, the Northern Essex Community College presented Stupid Fucking Bird to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 1. Playwright, Aaron Posner, truly reinventes the piece so that Stupid Fucking Bird isn’t just The Seagull during modern times. Even the title itself reveals the creative edge that Posner imposes throughout his adaptation. From beginning to end, the audience broke out into many cries of laughter. It is safe to say that many of us appreciated Mash’s unhealthy dose of self-deprecation, Dev’s denseness, or Emma’s superficial personality. Let’s not forget Trigorin’s several sexual innuendos and that “session” with Nina.

    In most cases, it would be easy to confuse seven characters and their many different relationships. However, this is not one of them. Each character had a unique costume and dialect to reflect their personality. The actors consistently stayed in character, allowing the audience to distinguish them better. Specifically, the actress who portrayed Mash paid close attention to body language and facial expressions while reacting to the other characters as they spoke.

    One of the most impressive qualities of the actors, was their ability to improv. Posner separated Stupid Fucking Birds from The Seagull, by breaking down the fourth wall. The actors not only acknowledged the audience, but even asked them questions. Whether the audience member was silent, or said something crazy like “Get her pregnant!,” the actors made sure to get a laugh out. On several occasions, Mash also called out a group of people who were late to the show, taking comedic advantage of this unplanned occurrence.

    While Stupid Fucking Bird is definitely a comedy, Posner still intertwines different themes throughout the play. He explores the different desires and expectations that people have in life, and what may conclude from them. In one scene, all of the characters are all frustrated as they list the things they long for the most. Ultimately, neither of them live the life they thought they would. Furthermore, through the character Conrad, Posner delves into the lack of invention and creativity in today’s theatre world (which is particularly ironic). Overall, Stupid Fucking Bird uses comedy to relate with the audience to help lead them to realize how temporary each moment is in the mess that we call life.

  9. Stupid Fucking Bird was, quite frankly, not the easiest piece to take seriously. There were some great moments amongst it’s actors, but the overall interaction of the characters with the audience was incredibly distracting, and tended to be taken advantage of by audience members who wanted to have their second in the spotlight. While the story itself was easy to follow, and the technical aspects rather minimalistic, the overall piece felt incredibly long for such a basic plot-line. The overarching theme of the piece was “life sucks and then ya die”, simple, yet relatively entertaining when done right. For a show with only 7 characters, it was crucial for each actor to pull their weight when it came to entertaining their audience all the way through the piece, and these actors certainly did so.

    Unfortunately, the biggest draw back of this piece was the audience’s reaction to any commentary made by the actors on present day politics or general happenings. The whooping and hollering for several minutes took away from some of the strongest moments of the piece. However, the moments that weren’t absorbed by the audience, tended to be rather moving. Rare moments between Conway and Nina, Emma and Doyle, Dev and Mosh, were incredibly impactful. Many audience members were able to feel Nina’s sadness, or Conway’s pain, and they seemed to form meaningful relationships with the characters overall.

    While this piece had its ups and downs, including the lack of program and/or trigger warning for its use of gunshots and themes of suicide, it was a relatively basic piece brought to life by colorful young actors. That in itself was refreshing. Ultimately, while I can’t say it’s my personal favorite genre of theater, the piece itself was done well by it’s cast. It moved along, rarely dragging, and had a lot that it’s audience could relate too. Needless to say, the work this cast put in to making this piece of modernized Chekhov work for such a youthful audience, did not go unnoticed.

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