Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Seagull: The Final Scene

In the final scene of The Seagull, what is Nina DOING?

Nina is returning to the last place where her life had some center and she's trying to rediscover how to hold herself together.
She searches through that whole scene. And she finds what she needs. And gradually she becomes whole.

When she enters she is utterly exhausted. By Life (Devise improvisations to get an actress to discover what "life" has been for her the last year or so. Lead to total exhaustion, near complete physical/emotional collapse. Not, however, mental breakdown.)
She leans against a bookcase. Ah! I remember this bookcase...Kostya read Pushkin love poems to me. My fourteenth birthday. He took the book from this shelf. Must get away from that memory. Oh, here's his desk. Didn't it used to be in the other room? Look at all the papers--yes, he's a writer now. Oh God, I want to sink into this chair and rest rest. No mustn't give in. Ah! there's the scratch on the floor--Yakov dropped the brass astrolabe--long ago--I was thirteen--visiting. Mustn't cry mustn't cry....I'm so tired, maybe if I just rest my head on my arms here on the sideboard---no! I'm a seagull (spine lifts and wants to soar...) No, I'm not. (no, spine can't lift anymore, it sinks) I'm an actress.

She's like someone who has survived a final awful drug overdose and fevered breakdown. She's coming out of it. She's reorienting herself. He watches. [And so do we.] He reaches. He pulls back to let her try to stand. She searches: for that girl she was who used to soar around the lake, for the exhilarating dream of opening nights and applause, for her baby, for.... Images, memories, tumble through her brain, her muscles. She cries. Treplev says "I love you" and she turns away. He wants to touch her, but he must give her her space. He reaches, he withdraws. He holds her, he releases her.

Through it all she becomes whole again. Step by step. Recovered image by image. She will survive. But at what price? What goes out of her irrevocably during the course of this scene? What is the sea gull?

And what does he see, sense, realize as he perceives her going through this process? that leads to "You have found your way. And I never will." Remember: this whole scene is leading to that gunshot.
Why does he shoot himself? What does he realize? What is the sea gull?


  1. David, per usual, your answers get to the heart of everything important.

  2. Hot Damn! This is thrilling!

  3. my only objection: just because they're blogs doesn't mean they have to be short, hit us with some Harold Bloom length passages!

  4. David...I love this! Reminds me of being in class. Wishing you all the best with this new venture!

  5. Fun to read. Learned more about the play today than I ever knew.