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Theater department takes on "Stupid F------ Bird"

by Margaret Stewart - Managing Editor
Wed, Oct 9th 2019 12:00 pm
The College at Brockport Theater Department performs its first production of the year, `Stupid F------ Bird.` The play, put on by a dramaturgy class included seven actors who explored their intricate relationships throughout the play.
The College at Brockport Theater Department performs its first production of the year, "Stupid F------ Bird." The play, put on by a dramaturgy class included seven actors who explored their intricate relationships throughout the play.

In a world full of endless news cycles and electronic entertainment, sometimes it is best to go back to the basics. It is not often a form of entertainment makes you sit down, think and reflect, but that is exactly what the play “Stupid F------ Bird” does.

The dramaturgy class at The College at Brockport had the opportunity to speak to playwright Aaron Posner who adapted Anton Chekhov’s novel “The Seagull” into the stage production of “Stupid F------ Bird.”

“I love, admire and respect Chekhov,” Posner said. “He was an innovator and an observer of human behavior at the deepest possible level.”

With a cast of seven, each character in the production is integral to the plot of the show as they all have interconnected, complicated relationships.

“Chekhov is so hard for contemporary audiences to understand,” Posner said. “Lots of things about relationships — all kinds of complicated, dysfunctional subtext between people — drive me insane.”

Although the significance of relationships can be hard to comprehend when not explicitly stated, the overt nature of this play offers a perfect canvas for the audience to see the depth of relationships acted out on stage.

“That’s the core of all Chekhov: very little happens, except there are all of these roiling emotions and needs and passions just underneath the surface,” Posner said. “So people suddenly burst into tears or burst into laughter or throw huge tantrums because there’s been so much build up.”

Luke Dempster plays Con in the show, a cynical character who suffers through an unrequited love and many existential reflections. Dempster said Con is an incredibly relatable character, especially for millenials who are becoming adults in a time where it is easy to be lost by the bleakness of international issues such as climate change, politics and terrorist attacks.

“It is the desperate attempt to change things, you know,” Dempster said. “Things are broken. It’s like people are scared to talk about things these days and being there [present] not being afraid to express your opinions on things is such a powerful thing. I think that’s probably the best part of Con, to me at least.”

The brutal honesty of the characters is what makes them so raw and relatable. The production relies on and encourages audience participation to a total breakdown of the fourth wall. The play begins with the audience shouting, “start the f------ play.”

Lily Rogers is a double major in psychology and theater, making this play perfect for her skills.

“It’s really awesome to have an interactive show and the audience gets really into it that way,” Rogers said. “It just hypes up the energy and it really keeps it [the play] interesting.”

Brockport junior Kevin Nestler plays Dev in the production and feels two themes of the production are staying present in the present and not judging people on how they live their lives. 

“It’s interesting because I think it’s different for everybody,” Nestler said. “I think the overall messages are kind of stated pretty loudly. With simple words, ‘here we are’ and ‘don’t judge.’ Those are two things that overlap a lot.”

Despite the rawness of the trials and tribulations the individual characters experience, it is important to note there is no true “villain” in Chekhov’s plays. 

“Everybody is doing their best, and everybody is f------ it up all the time, a statement which is pretty close to my view of the world,” Posner said.

The show is not afraid of being crude or crass. In fact, it thrives on both cementing the audience in some variation of modern reality wherein they will hopefully leave the show contemplating their lives.

One of the deepest moments was when Emma (Davida Bloom) undercut her son’s “performance event” and the characters have a detailed discussion about the 100 years test. The 100 years test is when a person reflects on an outcome, an event or a moment in their lives and decides whether or not it will be at all relevant in 100 years. 

Basically, the idea is to not sweat the small stuff. Do not stress about what you cannot change and spend your time on things that will actually, actually, actually impact your life. 

“Theater is revolutionary,” Rogers said. “I mean, even this play just changes your perspective on so much and it makes you think about things in a different way. There are great messages and it makes you rethink a lot.”

The show’s final weekend will be on Thursday, Oct. 17, to Saturday, Oct. 19, in the evenings at 7:30 p.m.

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