For theatre kids facing acting withdrawals, rest assured. The Hinman Production Company’s (HPC) production of “Stupid Fucking Bird” will premiere virtually on YouTube Live this Thursday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. and run until this Saturday, Nov. 21 with options to comment live. Written by Aaron Posner, “Stupid Fucking Bird” is a modern take on the 1896 play “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov. The play follows the lives of Conrad, his family and his friends as they deal with parental expectations, the turbulence of love and most importantly, the purpose and future of theatre.
The first act opens on the night of Conrad’s big performance where he presents his play to his mother Emma, a famous actress who had Conrad when she was still a teenager. Emma’s boyfriend, renowned author Doyle Trigorin, complicates things for Conrad. Nina, Conrad’s girlfriend, falls for Trigorin, while Mash, his mother’s cook, tries to reveal to Conrad how much she loves him. As if this wasn’t enough unrequited love, Conrad’s friend Dev is also madly in love with Mash. It’s a tangled mess of love, desperation and unrequited feelings, as Mash loves Conrad, who loves Nina, who — well you get it. It’s complicated.
The script itself is introspective, dynamic and complex, exploring deep topics and emotions while working to maintain some humorous scenes. It was the first script they had sent to one another, and it remained their number one choice.
The show’s directors Jacob Parker, a senior majoring in music, and Hannah Nathanson, a junior majoring in English, had a lot of time to choose a script, and “Stupid Fucking Bird” stood out to both of them.
“We both fell in love with it, and then we spent like a month reading other scripts like, ‘Yeah we could direct this’ but it was very much, we knew — we just wanted to direct ‘Stupid Fucking Bird,’” Nathanson said.
Filming and rehearsing the show during the COVID-19 pandemic has its own challenges, but according to Nathanson, the more difficult the process is, the sweeter the finished product becomes.
“We had sent things to the HPC Listserv, and the cinema department listserv,” Nathanson said. “So that we could get people with film experience, and editing experience working with us that may not have thought their skills correlated with theatre in the past, and hadn’t really looked into on-campus theatre since things are so different virtually.”
The rehearsal and filming process for “Stupid Fucking Bird” required a different approach than live theatre. A lot had to be taken into consideration — set continuity, shooting at different angles and their vision of the final play. As a play that was written to be performed for a live audience and the directors, cast, crew and film teams had to find a way to emotionally reach the audience from a screen.
A sneak peek at the edited opening scenes shows a lively, vivacious cast that will succeed at pulling the audience in and captivating the observer. If you are someone looking for something to do this weekend, make sure to see “Stupid Fucking Bird” for an interactive, virtual experience whose motifs and characters will stay in your head and heart long after the curtain closes.