Чайка (the seagull) is one of the four major plays of Russian драматург (dramatist) Антон Чехов (Anton Chekhov). It was written in 1895 and first played on October 17th, 1896 at the Александринский театр (Alexandrinsky Theatre) in Petersburg.
The opening night was a complete disaster. Вера Комиссаржевская (Vera Komissarzhevskaya), who was said to be one of the best actress of her time being so impressed by the hostility of the audience, that she lost her voice.
Anton Chekhov, who had written to his editor some months before “I am writing it not without pleasure, though I swear fearfully at the conventions of the stage”, was not surprised by this failure. But it nearly stopped him from writing new plays.
It was not until December 17th, 1898 that Чайка, directed by Константин Станиславский (Konstantin Stanislavsky), was to be played in the newly-founded Московский Художественный Академический театр (Moscow Art Theatre). The production received unanimous praise from the press.
Чайка is believed to be one of the most significant plays of the 19th century. The play is set in a Russian countryside estate by a lake. It is the romantic entanglements and the artistic quest of a group of actors and writers. It is about the nature of human being, that tends to reject love freely offered and seeks it where it is impossible. It is about a destructive relationship between four persons.
A sentence from one of the main characters, Trigorin, resume the play and the fate of Nina:
“На берегу озера с детства живёт молодая девушка, такая, как вы; любит озеро, как чайка, и счастлива, и свободна, как чайка. Но случайно пришёл человек, увидел и от нечего делать погубил её, как вот эту чайку.”
“A young girl grows up on the shores of a lake, as you have. She loves the lake as the gulls do, and is as happy and free as they are. But a man sees her who chances to come that way, and he destroys her out of idleness, as this gull here has been destroyed.”