Seattle theater ensemble The Seagull Project will take its well-received 2013 production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” to Seattle sister city Tashkent, Uzbekistan, next year. The show will be part of The Festival of American Culture: Ilkhom East/West, produced by the internationally known Ilkhom Theatre of Tashkent.
Members of The Seagull Project, with “Seagull” director and ACT associate artistic director John Langs, will take the show to the Central Asian nation in April 2014, with travel expenses underwritten by a $51,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent. They’ll also participate in readings of new American plays, a musical concert and workshops during the festival.
ACT Theatre, where the Seagull Project’s Chekhov production premiered last January, has a longstanding relationship with Ilkhom. The latter company traveled to Seattle to perform at ACT in 2008, the year after Ilkhom founder-artistic director Mark Weil was fatally stabbed outside his Tashkent playhouse. According to news reports, three men angry about the depiction of Mohammed in an Ilkhom play were later convicted of Weil’s murder.
Uzbekistan has been the center of political controversy in recent years, for its reported use of slave labor and the ironclad rule of longtime President Islam Karimov. Seagull Project co-artistic director Gavin Reub sees the Seattle troupe’s visit as a valuable cross-cultural exchange. Noting that Central Asia “is a zone of great turmoil presently,” he says, “I feel that our presence as both ambassadors and artists [will be] a fascinating one.”
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