The Doctor is In...
For ITALIC's fall creative final project, our group decided to tackle the assignment with comedy, the original intention that Chekhov had for The Seagull. Rather than write a scene that could be inserted in between acts, we put together a therapy session between Chekhov, who is struggling to write an ending to the play, and the three main female characters, Arkadina, Nina, and Masha. By looking into their memories, which ended up becoming scenes that could occur between the 3rd and 4th acts, we dove into a deeper character analysis of these cartoonish, exaggerated women. Two artistic choices that I had main responsibility for were Nina's memory and the choice to film and edit the memories rather than perform them live.
In order to divide the creative direction of each memory evenly, each person was primarily assigned to write the memory in which they would be the main character. As Nina, I wanted to widen her starry eyes and expand not only her big dreams, but her bigger naivete about everything going on around her. Coupled with the realities of a modern-day teenage girl plagued by the impossible audition process and the trivialities of Snapchat, Nina's growing failures as an actress became comical, her relationship with Konstantin even more so. As a result, I became intimately familiar with Nina's struggles and was able to bring them out in a way that would be instantly and humorously recognizable to the audience.
The decision to film the memories, rather than act them out live, was made in the spirit of Scott Bukatman's lectures on film, specifically its boundaries. In film, not only is an audience limited in what they can see on screen in terms of landscapes and close-ups, the audience is also limited to the physical borders of the screen, directing their attention to a specific point in the room and sharpening the senses to what is occurring right in front of their eyes. Memories are extremely specific to the people who remember them, and every person can remember a series of events in a unique way. We wanted to demonstrate the limits of these recollections based on the extreme personalities we were working with. I was the primary cinematographer for the project, as well as the editor for the film, and I chose to make artistic decisions that would further emphasize familiar characteristics of the women we were portraying. For example, I desaturated Masha's memory to demonstrate a lack of vivacity and passion in her life, and filmed Arkadina's memory in the style of film noir to put her in the spotlight. The direction that I was able to take with film and with Nina's scene helped me to contribute to the character analysis that we were going for, as well as to poke fun at the extremes these women found ordinary in their daily lives.