Nicholas Thomson, '20, and Devin Walsh, '18, stand on stage in Zoellner Arts Center. Thomson and Walsh are part of the cast for the production Stupid F*@#ing Bird. (Courtesy of the Department of Theatre)

Theatre department performs ‘Stupid F*@#ing Bird’

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Under this season’s theme “Translations and Adaptations,” the theater department put on the modernly adapted play “Stupid F*@#ing Bird” in Zoellner Arts Center’s Diamond Theater from Nov. 10 through Nov. 17.

The play, written by Aaron Posner, is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” with a modern twist. The play is said to be questioning, defying and challenging, yet humorous and relatable for today’s generation.

“The play is all about new versus old forms of the theater,” director Pam Pepper said, “and those two viewpoints are represented by a mother who has been a grand actress in theater her whole life and her younger son who tries to rebel against everything she stands for.”

Auditions for the play were held Aug. 29 and 30, and rehearsals began soon after cast members were chosen. The production is interactive, and the actors are aware of the audience and interact with it, asking attendees questions and having conversations with them.

“The play is most interesting in the sense that it approaches theater in a different way than most plays,” said Devin Walsh, ’18, who played Conrad in the production. “In most plays, actors can’t have their backs to the audience and they have a strict script that they must follow, but in ‘Stupid F*@#ing Bird’ all of the actors are aware of the audience . . . It questions the standards of what modern theater is and I guess it tries to change it. Defiance is a major theme in the play.”

Themes throughout the production include relationships between mother and son, different forms of love and falling in love with the wrong person.

The characters are emotional and passionate but struggle to express their feelings in the right way. They all have different views of the world and struggle to live their lives the way they want to. Some characters are hysterical, others are cynical and some are a mix of both.

“Mash is someone who sees the world for what it is with a somewhat cynical view point,” said Kalyani Singh, ’18, who played Mash in the production. “She sees the facts of all the bad things in the world that are happening. She wears all black because she’s unhappy. She is desperately in love with someone who does not love her back. She is hard-edged, but she also has a lot of love that she wants to give to another person.”

Attendees of the play and were surprised by the content of the Chekovian-based production. While it was, in some forms, representative of “The Seagull,” Posner changed the original play, mixing classical elements with relatable 21st-century issues.

The first few nights of the production had bigger turnouts than the last few. Regardless, each night had a responsive crowd that pitched ideas during the play and interacted with the characters.

“A huge theme of the play was how love is very illusionary in a sense and how we, as a society, define it as something very important that we always have to keep perfecting in order to achieve happiness,” Cadence Tam, ’21, said. “But it kind of raised the issue of how, a lot of the time, the perfect sense of love is so socially defined and it’s actually very difficult to reach that standard.”

The play attracted students and faculty, as well as Lehigh families and Bethlehem locals.

“My favorite part was the fact that (the characters were) very self-aware and the structure of it was different from any other production I’ve ever seen,” Tam said.

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