Stupid F@#%ing Bird
Actor Alissa Hanish reflects on her past experience with Chekhov’s works
1. Have you ever read or performed a Chekhov work before? If yes, what work(s)?
Yes, I was first introduced to Chekhov in college when we read The Cherry Orchard. I immediately fell in love with the play…the imagery, the metaphors, the characters, how unbelievably dramatic yet relatable it was. It felt like what theatre should be – heightened reality that made me feel something. Then, a year later, I was cast as Anna Petrovna in The Chekhov Machine. It was an outrageous, wonderful little play about the characters from Chekhov’s plays coming back to haunt him as he is dying from TB. It was a fascinating experience and made me fall even more in love with his work. His characters are so dramatic and ridiculous, yet you see yourself in all of them. His characters are our inner lives – the things brewing inside of us that we don’t let others see. We are so dramatic in our own minds, but we try to be rational human beings. Chekhov makes you examine yourself with his characters.
2. Did your past experience with Chekhov add to the interest in this show for you?
I already loved The Seagull before I knew about this play. I saw Stupid F@#%ing Bird in Chicago at Victory Gardens Theatre in 2015 and it made me think for days. I laughed, I cried, I contemplated what art was and what art I should be doing. When I saw that OCP was producing it I was ecstatic! It makes fun of Chekhov but in the most loving way. It still has the heart of a Chekhov story, but the language and characters are a little more accessible.
3. Do you think the script for Stupid F@#%ing Bird makes Chekhov more relatable to people who may not be familiar to his works?
This script is definitely more accessible than The Seagull but honestly, only in language and maybe time period. The characters are still incredibly dramatic and the ideas are the same (even some of the lines are nearly identical to the lines in The Seagull.) I think placing the characters in modern-ish day with modern-ish language helps make the play more accessible to people who aren’t into classical theatre. It is a modern show with modern language and dress, but it still has all the flair and drama and feeling of a Chekhov original.