Portland is no stranger to the works of Eugene-born playwright Aaron Posner. Portland Center Stage and Artist Repertory Theater have staged his adaptations “Sometimes a Great Notion,” “The Chosen” and three short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. Now, Portland Center Stage is producing the first of what he calls his irreverent adaptations: “Stupid F**king Bird,” which runs through March 27.
A play on Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” the fowl-named play was originally developed at Washington D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theater. OPB’s Aaron Scott and Portland Monthly arts editor, Fiona McCann, went to see the show as part of State Of Wonder’s “What Are You Looking At?” series. Here are highlights from their conversation.
On the uniqueness of Posner’s adaptation:
McCann: It’s the same set of characters grappling with the same problems. They’re all in love with the same people as in the original. In a lot of ways I think it’s very cleverly done because it takes what Chekhov did at that time and he does something similar himself. He plays with the form, he subverts it, and he breaks the fourth wall. It has been broken before, but ‘Stupid F**king Bird’ does it in ways that surprised me.
He was so clever in the things he subverted or overturned from Chekhov, who’s famous for the subtext of his characters. Yet, here we have Posner with a scene where all of the characters literally sit on stage and vomit out every interior thought which is completely interesting and kind of fun.
Scott: Not only do they break down the fourth wall, but they do it in a self-deprecating way where they’re really making fun of themselves and theater in general.
[Posner] has directed a lot of Shakespeare and in a way he’s introducing those Shakespearean asides where a character will explain what’s going through their mind to the audience. Here it’s to incredibly hilarious effect oftentimes.
On the cast of “Stupid F**king Bird”:
McCann: I thought it was really impressive cast. I know many of them originated those roles, and you could feel that familiarity. They were impressive as a whole. I think there was some wonderful comic timing and high drama. There’s such a range in that play. It’s hard to tow the line between something intense and melodramatic happening and at the same time poking fun at that melodrama. I thought they did a great job.”