What is one design element displayed in the production The Seagull?

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Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull is usually produced in accord with the naturalism that characterized its original production by the Moscow Art Theater. Set design that pays equal attention to interior and exterior space is one important design element.

A notable example of the naturalist approach is the play within a play in act 1. The original production featured intensive collaboration between director Konstantin Stanislavski and designer Viktor Andreevich Simov. In Chekhov’s dialogue and notes, act 1 includes references to the outdoor theater on the lawn of Sorin’s estate. There, Treplev’s play will be performed, with the production taking advantage of the natural setting, including the light. Treplev remarks,

Just like a real theatre! See, there we have the curtain, the foreground, the background, and all. No artificial scenery is needed.

In the original production, the illusory “fourth wall” that separates the stage and audience was ignored in the smaller performance. The on-stage audience for Treplev’s play sat in chairs that faced that production, so their backs were to the larger play’s audience, blocking its view as if it were not there.

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