Gertrude: O Hamlet, Speak no more!
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
And there I see such black and grainèd spots
As will not leave their tinct.
-William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 4
For example, Shakespeare's HAMLET is mentioned twice: in Act One, Arkadina quotes Gertrude, and in Act Two, Treplev compares Trigorin to Hamlet himself. How fitting, to see perhaps the most famous drama of that time discussed casually, yet having a special significance. We know very little of Treplev's father, only that he is no longer present (we believe that he died young, which would explain Arkadina's obsession with youth and immortality). The deceased father usurped by a scoundrel, now romantically involved with the mother of a troubled young man: this story offers a parallel between Shakespeare and Chekhov.
When I direct a production, I try to read as much of the playwright's work as possible. And, I try to read their contemporaries- in this case, Turgenev is referenced throughout the play. Chekhov himself quotes his fellow writer in Act Four: "Happy is he who can sit at night under the roof of his home, who has a warm corner in which to take refuge. And God help all houseless wanderers." Those who enjoy this production of THE SEAGULL would find countless parallels in Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY (arguably his most famous drama). I am currently reading his novel, FATHERS AND SONS, which has also proven to be interesting in this regard.
Duse was not only a stage sensation, but her tumultuous love affairs fascinated the public. She has been linked to several journalists, actors, poets, and even Verdi's librettist. Some have speculated a romance between Duse and the legendary Isadora Duncan and feminist Lina Poletti.
THE SEAGULL is a play that can be tremendously engaging for any audience member; with further research, we've fallen in love with the history and drama alike.