The Seagull

Zagreb Youth Theatre, Croatia, 2013
Author: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
Directed by Bobo Jelčić

about the production

Jelčić’s sketch on the topic of Chekhov’s Seagull is taking place somewhere on the border between the acted and the real, an intentionally theatrical but at the same time brief, civilised talk. Eight stories, eight actors, eight people full of desire are finding their way round on a half-empty stage, among the shabby pieces of furniture and props – a booty from the theatre stocks. From time to time a forgotten trolley used to transport the props crosses their way, or a technician strolls across the stage nonchalantly, as if the theatrical illusion was still going on, or rather has ceased to be.

If we perceive the production, the latest outcome of several months’ work by the prominent Zagreb ensemble on Chekhov’s text, as just another interpretation, (rather non- traditional for a stone theatre), we can only call it a sketch. We recognise the story, the fates of people from the Seagull, rather disappointed or just shortly enlightened by the hope of a new start, however, always only briefly suggested. They have no development; they are not leading up to any catharsis. The characters, passionate as well as impotent, circular meditations about life and art, so typical of Chekhov, pop up from the silent, empty, spacious and idle stage only for a while, disappearing again into an unlit stage corner, or a quite tangible actor’s gloss commenting on a topical reality, or a civil address by the actor to the viewer.

Jelčić puts on stage only the first and the third acts of the Seagull, even they are not fully staged, emphasizing (just to be on the safe side) intentional allusiveness by subscriptions: Act 1: Sketch, Act 3: Unfinished. However, as is the case with great painters, Chekhov as well as Jelčić prove that even the briefest movement of the brush – a monologue disappearing into the distance, a circular gesture of a hand wave resembling a hysterical fit, or an unfinished absurd dialogue –  reveal a concentrated hand movement by a master of calligraphy who has just allusively caught the essence.

It is just the unfinished story by which Bobo Jelčić triggers off a multi-layered play of associations and thus enables the perceiver to carry out a highly personal grasping of the story. Instead of a descriptive dismantling of the family relationships texture or a far-fetched transportation of the original text from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries into an unusual or even exotic environment and period, Jelčić relies on the principle of theatre for theatre and the present moment. The actors remain faithful to the characters as well as to themselves. They even demonstratively draw from their civil self that they have just placed into a clearly defined emotional situation. Thus an image of an ad hoc community of people appears, a group of lives closely connected, whereby each of them – despite common experiences –  remains chronically isolated in his or her own experience. The group as well as an individual are pottering about, each of them in the agony of his or her own burn out, unrequited love emotions or unfulfilled ambitions. Dialogue fragments are interlaced with silent but expressive images in which the adults – similarly as children stamping their feet – desperately demand their happiness.
Maja Hriešik

“The director didn’t worry about finishing the work or the show itself, he rather enabled the actors‘ play to happen with all its ups and downs. In addition to simple solutions, by which he covers the Chekhov moments of silence, this production brings something of key importance, (what Nataša Rajković and Bobo Jelčić have brought to Croatian stages), and that is a sincerely and pedantically acted version of every day life’s absurdity. The show oscillates on the border of a farce comedy performed masterly and almost routinely, so to speak, by the ZKM ensemble, and moments depicting the breakdown of the show as well as the whole world.”
Igor Ružić,

“Jelčić has not betrayed Chekhov in any way. The relationships among the characters, their motivations and mutual conflicts are pedantically taken from Chekhov, only exaggerated. What he takes out of the play is multiplied ad absurdum, the rest which used to be part of the story is simply discarded. The show ends up in a space between the present and the past. The protagonists depict the boredom of a Russian summer residence and its owners but also the boredom and misery of our contemporary relationship to art and, paradoxically, life itself in it.”
Tomislav Čadež, Jutarnji list


script and directed by Bobo Jelčić
director´s assistant: Filip Mojzeš 
light design: Aleksandar Čavlek
sound design:  Kruno Miljan
characters and cast: Irina Nikolayevna Arkadinová: Ksenija Marinković, Boris Alekseyevich: Sreten Mokrović, Konstantin Gavrilovich Treplev: Krešimir Mikić, Nina Mihaylovna Zariečna: Jadranka Đokić, Yevgeny Sergeyevich Dorn: Goran Bogdan, Polina Andreyevna: Nataša Dorčić, Masha: Katarina Bistrović Darvaš, Semion Semionovich Medvedenko: Pjer Meničanin, Hrvoje Svečnjak: Hrvoje Svečnjak, Igor Mandić: Igor Mandić


Bobo Jelčić (1964), theatre and film director, lecturer at the Academy of Performing Arts in Zagreb.  As a director he was active at all main theatres in Croatia and worked as a visiting director in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 1995 he started cooperation with the writer, translator and dramaturgist Natasha Rajković on a new method in which the actor is also given the role of the author. They have produced several productions made in this way, among others also the play From the Other Side (2006), which was introduced at the International Festival Divadelná Nitra 2007. Their theatre projects obtained a number of awards, e.g., the Prize for the Best Play at the International Small Scenes Theatre Festival in Rijeka, the Prize of the Public for the Best Play and the Best Direction at the prestigious Croatian theatre festival in Split, the Prize for the Best Dramaturgy at the International Small Scenes Theatre Festival in Rijeka, the Orlando Prize for the Best Play at the Summer Festival in Dubrovnik in 2004 and others.


Materials available

Video of the productione: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN

If you are interested in these materials, write to