Anton Chekhov in 1898.

Chekhov fest opens Saturday

TREMONT — The biannual Barn Arts Chekhov festival, which celebrates the work of the 19th century Russian writer, will be held May 11-18. This year’s festival features a pair of productions of plays by Anton Chekhov and his contemporary Maxim Gorky, and a panel discussion at the Southwest Harbor Public Library.

On Saturday, May 11, at 6 p.m. Barn Arts will debut a performance of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” his first dramatic masterpiece, at the Barn. A second performance will be held on Sunday, May 12, at 6 p.m.

Thursday evening, May 16 will be Chekhov Night at the Southwest Harbor Public Library. The evening will explore Chekhov’s work and its lasting legacy on his culture and ours through a panel discussion that will include light refreshments.

Afterwards, patrons are invited to take part in Chekhov Club, a local group that meets to read Chekhov’s plays and stories out loud together.

This year’s Chekhov Festival will also include a development production of “Children of the Sun” by Gorky, on Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m.

The Barn Arts Chekhov Club formed in the winter of 2014 when a number of artists from around the island began coming together to read and discuss Chekhov’s works. As the group grew, they focused their efforts on developing an original production of “The Seagull,” a play about a group of artists falling in love and spending time together at a house on the water.

In 2015, Barn Arts presented the first act of the play, in a staged production in which the actors held scripts. By 2016, they had staged the second act, and at the last Chekhov Festival in 2017, the club presented an in-process staging of the piece, with actors on-book and the audience moving to four separate locations for each act of the play.

On May 11, the full production will premiere as the headliner for this year’s festival. “This piece is unlike any theater project that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Andrew Simon, the artistic director of Barn Arts.

“Over the last five years, this group has grown and changed and shifted and our adaptation reflects that — it feels personal and it expresses who we are as an ensemble as well as what we believe this play represents.

“The text was written over a hundred years ago, but the themes and ideas are modern and universal and this production roots the play in the world around us. Ultimately, ‘The Seagull’ is about being creative, falling in love, struggling to find a place, and trying to figure out how to be happy — with your friends and family all around you in a beautiful part of the world.”

Contact 412-9435.

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