Thomas Ostermeier directs his first Chekhov.

De Meeuw (The Seagull)

Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Anton Chekhov, Thomas Ostermeier

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‘If you ever need my life, come and take it.’ This is what’s written in a locket which Nina secretly hands to the successful stage writer Trigorin. The young woman dreams of an eventful life as an actress, but with this action fatally undermines the existing relationships. The Seagull is Thomas Ostermeier’s first stab at directing Chekhov. With it, the internationally renowned director not only deals with an ultimate love story but also a seminal piece about the theatre itself and Chekhov’s first play in which he developed his now famous ‘theatre of mood’; a brand of theatre in which an explosive cocktail of hidden desires, motives and frustrations lurks underneath the surface of the dialogue.


Anton Tsjechov
Thomas Ostermeier
Jan Pappelbaum
lighting design
Erich Schneider
Nils Ostendorf
casting advice
Hans Kemna
Alwin Pulinckx
Bart Slegers
Chris Nietvelt
Eelco Smits
Hugo Koolschijn
Hans Kesting
Hélène Devos
Janni Goslinga
Toneelgroep Amsterdam

More than anything, this mind-blowing, spit-hurling, earth-moving evening is about what theatre can do.

The Observer about Ostermeier's Hamlet

Background Information

The Seagull dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Tréplev, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin. It’s Chekhov’s most well-known and best-loved play; the work exhibits all of the qualities that helped to cement the Russian playwright in the minds and hearts of theatre-goers around the world.


The Russian physician, dramatist and author of short stories Anton Pavlovich Chekhov is famous for his plays Ivanov, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. Chekhov is an unsurpassed master of story-telling. Where other writers need pages to evoke an atmosphere and draw out the characters, Chekhov often only needs a few words. His work is typified by little action and brilliant evocations of atmosphere and characterisation, where the interaction between the characters is especially important. With subtle psychology and witty narration Chekhov portrays social relations and the narrowmindedness and apathy of the ‘small man’ in his country. At the age of 32 he wrote The Seagull. The premiere at the Alexandrinski theatre in Saint Petersburg was a complete failure. Chekhov was very upset and swore never to write a play again. But Maxim Gorki wrote to him: ‘So you don’t want to write for the stage anymore? By God, it is your duty!’. The play was revived a couple of years later in Moscow under the direction of Stanislavski and became an overwhelming success.


The German director Thomas Ostermeier (1968) is artistic director of the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz and works as guest director in Hamburg, Munich and on several other leading European stages. He has won countless prizes and awards for his work in Germany and at various festivals throughout Europe. Ibsen’s work (A Doll’s House) forms a prominent part of his repertoire, alongside stagings of Shakespeare (Hamlet) and Sarah Kane (Blasted). Ghosts was his first directorial foray with Toneelgroep Amsterdam.


Toneelgroep Amsterdam is Holland’s prime theatre company and the official municipal theatre company of Amsterdam, based in Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam. With an annual average of twenty plays and performing a total of over 350 performances, the company plays to audiences of close to 100.000 each year. Toneelgroep Amsterdam operates on an international level, working with guest directors such as Robert Woodruff (US), Krzysztof Warlikowski (POL), Johan Simons (NL), Thomas Ostermeier (GER) and also performs outside the Netherlands on stages in Germany, the US, France, Russia, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. The company has been invited by festivals such as RuhrTriennale (DE), Wiener Festwochen (A) and Festival d’Avignon (FR). Awarded repertoire of Toneelgroep Amsterdam includes Shakespeare’s Roman Tragedies and The taming of the Shrew, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and John Cassavetes Opening Night.

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