Barry McNamara  |  Published September 21, 2023

‘The Seagull’

Monmouth College to stage one of Anton Chekhov’s masterpieces, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

In the foreground, Eric Pio (Semyon Semyonovich Medvedenko), left, and Dani Lopez (Masha Andreevn... In the foreground, Eric Pio (Semyon Semyonovich Medvedenko), left, and Dani Lopez (Masha Andreevna) brood, while John Henderson (Pyotr Nikolaevich Sorin), left, and Zesty Lythgoe (Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov) converse during a rehearsal of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. It will be performed Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at Wells Theater.MONMOUTH, Ill. – “Masterpiece theatre” is an appropriate description of the opening production of Monmouth College’s 2023-24 season, as the first major work by one of the greatest playwrights will be featured.

'THE SEAGULL': The masterpiece by Anton Chekhov will open the 2023-24 theatre season at M... 'THE SEAGULL': The masterpiece by Anton Chekhov will open the 2023-24 theatre season at Monmouth College.Performances of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull will be staged Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 in the College’s Wells Theater. Professor Vanessa Campagna will direct the play, which was written in 1895 and first produced in 1896.

The Seagull is a late 19th-century modernist masterpiece by Anton Chekhov, but its themes remain relevant,” said Campagna. “Identity, belonging, purpose/vocation, relationality and human agency are among the most salient. Our student actors are doing brave and compelling work with challenging material. The department has grown tremendously and we have the host of students that make doing this work possible.”

Check out photos from The Seagull photo call.

Her theatre students, and college students, in general, are front of mind for Campagna as she directs The Seagull.

“Higher education is in a tremendous period of critical reflection and transition as we try to meet the needs of a student population that faces increasingly high rates of anxiety and depression,” she said. “At the same time, we strive to prepare them for the demands that they will face in their careers, and the intensities and uncertainties of life.”

Within that context, said Campagna, Chekhov’s play has compelled her to think of her students as seagulls.

“They’re just beginning to launch and explore possible paths of flight – often tentatively and with great fear of failure,” she said. “Chekov, I believe, invites us to consider the efforts of young people and the fragile nature of their egos with more care and generosity. I daily encounter students who take my breath away because they’re resilient and they’re trying so hard in a world that does not encourage their failure. To my students, I see you and support you; keep flying.”

Joining the students on stage are three guest artists, including recently retired music faculty member Carolyn Suda, who is returning to the stage after decades dedicated to her cello. Suda will play the role of fading actress Irina Arkadina. Guests Robert Thompson (who plays another of the leading roles, middlebrow storywriter Boris Trigorin) and John Henderson are the other guests.

Other leading roles in the production – “meaty roles,” in the words of Campagna – include the ingenue Nina (played by Rayanne Shaul ’27 of Bourbonnais, Illinois) and Irina’s son, the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplev (played by Celeste Lythgoe ’24 of Lafayette, Colorado).

“All these characters, they’re sitting in the country spending four acts thinking about and pining over all the things that will bring them happiness. Chekhov pokes fun at us for the ways that we have these external strivings, positing our happiness as something in the future.” Vanessa Campagna


“Chekov demonstrates love for all of his characters, treating each with deep humanity, even as he laughs at their perpetual longing for that which is beyond themselves,” said Campagna. “Whether it is to have their art understood, or their love requited, or to live elsewhere, or to remain young, beautiful (and) relevant, The Seagull’s characters struggle to break attachments and to cease their external striving.”

That struggle, ironically, is part of what makes The Seagull a comedy.

Theatre professor Vaness Campagna, right, gives directions to Zesty Lythgoe (Konstantin Gavrilovi... Theatre professor Vaness Campagna, right, gives directions to Zesty Lythgoe (Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov) before the start of a rehearsal of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. The play will be performed Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at Wells Theater.“This play is titled The Seagull, a Comedy in Four Acts,” said Campagna. “One of the greatest challenges for me is to find the comedy. It’s not a ‘get the laugh’ type of comedy. It’s an intellectual comedy. All these characters, they’re sitting in the country spending four acts thinking about and pining over all the things that will bring them happiness. Chekhov pokes fun at us for the ways that we have these external strivings, positing our happiness as something in the future – if only this, if only that. And Chekhov’s like, ‘Oh, we are so silly. Can’t we all just go inward and do something in the now that will improve our lives?’”

Whether or not it’s an LOL comedy, Campagna has found joy in the process of directing Chekhov.

“With sincerest thanks to the company for an artistic process that has provided, in the Act 2 words of Nina, ‘sublime moments of happiness,’ I am delighted to present to audiences The Seagull,” she said.

# # #

Monmouth College will present “The Seagull” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29-30 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Wells Theater on the College’s campus. Tickets can be purchased online at monmouthcollege.edu/box-office. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.

Listen Up …

Hear RayAnne Shaul (Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya) and Zesty Lythgoe (Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplyov) preview The Seagull with Shawn Temple of WRAM-AM/FM.

Listen Up …

Theatre professor Vanessa Campagna discusses the meaning of The Seagull on Monmouth Conversations.

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/offices/global-engagement/" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthcollege.edu/academics/only-at-monmouth/educational-garden-farm/" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="https://monmouthscots.com/" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>