"If I were an American playwright wanting an assured, smartly challenging staging of my latest play, I'd put Boston Court at the top of my wish list." -LA Times Critic, Charles McNulty
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Great F**king Show! Okay, stop what you’re doing . . . and go get tickets for the production of Stupid Fucking Bird at the Theatre at Boston Court. No, really, unless you’re driving or already reading Chekhov, or kissing the love of your life – you need to pause and go get seats for this co-production from Boston Court and Circle X.
Stupid Fucking Bird Is the Best Chekhov Adaptation in Two Decades: Stupid Fucking Bird is the most authentic, self-aware, playful, pathos-filled, unassuming and world-wise adaptation of Chekhov I’ve seen since Louis Malle’s 1992 film, Vanya on 42nd Street. How does one have Chekhov speak to 21st-century America? See this production.
CRITIC’S CHOICE Director Michael Michetti leads what may be Charles McNulty’s favorite ensemble of year: The whole profane title of Stupid … Bird which opened last weekend at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center, can’t be printed in a family newspaper. But I can entreat those of you with a love of Anton Chekhov and a taste for theatrical horseplay to rush out and see Aaron Posner’s bright, jocular and not in the least offensive modernization of The Seagull.
Chekhov’s The Seagull is given a highly contemporary makeover in Pasadena: The third Chekhov takeoff this year in Los Angeles (could I have missed any?), after The Country House and Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Stupid F—ing Bird may be the most self-consciously post-modern of the trio, with its resolutely present-day argot, deliberate ironic posturing and winking asides to the audience. It tries rather strenuously not to be boring or “classical,” and indeed that effort may be the only tiresome thing about it, as it almost unaccountably captures the timeless humor and complex comprehension of human foibles characteristic of any good adaptation of Chekhov.
Boston Court Scores a Bulls eye With Their West Coast Premiere of STUPID FUCKING BIRD: Chekhov aficionados open to the humanizing of his high-brow archetypes will delight in playwright Aaron Posner’s smartly written and irreverent take on Anton Chekhov’s classic The Seagull. As briskly directed by Michael Michetti, the first act whizzes by with the prerequisite introductions and conflicting relationships identified, eliciting loads of laughter and unexpected audience interactions.
Recommended: Posner’s script is clever, erudite, subversive, often funny, and always entertaining. Director Michael Michetti gives it a brilliant and lovely production, well-acted, inventive and thoughtful. Bradley’s Connie is passionate, despairing, and exuberantly physical, pursuing his ideological rants, and concluding surprisingly that maybe the old forms are still useful, but they need to be done better.
It’s a Spirited F*ing Chekhov Summer: “Michael Michetti has staged this serious fun, taking enlightened liberties with a gentle hand and very strong cast — from Will Bradley’s intense and lovelorn Conrad (“I tried, I failed, I didn’t fail better, I failed more.”) to Amy Pietz’s arrogant embrace of his indifferent actress mother, Emma Arkadina.”
One day I reviewed ‘Stupid F**king Bird.’ I f**king encourage all to go: I f**king declare this a must-see production for all those who love Anton Chekhov but are open to new artistic forms and for all those who can laugh at the pretensions of artists and the ironies of life.
High flying ‘Bird’: Aaron Posner’s new adaptation of The Seagull does more than revive Anton Chekhov’s 1896 Russian classic about longing for love and significance. It reinvigorates theater with energy and intent that bursts through the fourth wall like a dam spilling its guts onto a parched floodplain.
Passion is Still Stupid: In Stupid Fucking Bird Chekhov’s The Seagull speaks to a new age: In the hands of director Michael Michetti, that rings through all the drama, as it plays out in a tight production with a strong and engaging cast. Add to this the extra thrill of Posner’s Thornton Wilder-style dissolving of the fourth wall, including actors stepping into and out of character, and you’re looking at something compelling and genuinely fun.
Michetti’s direction beautifully mashes the discomfort into our faces, helping actors find true moments in the middle of high artifice and orchestrating designers into concert with a fascinating and difficult text. It’s still art about art, no getting around it; and yes, art could use less of that. But if you’re going to do it, this is how to embrace it.
Edgy and cutting-edge as you’d expect a Theatre @ Boston Court production to be, Stupid Fucking Bird is also as accessible and entertaining as any production I’ve seen at Pasadena’s premier intimate theater. And it’s not stupid at all. No fucking way.
Los Angeles has been treated with three new plays that use Chekhov’s Seagull as the starting out point. [...] Boston Court trumps them all with a wonderfully savvy, petulant blitz through the very bowels of this Chekhov masterpiece.
Currently we are in previews for Boston Court’s production of Stupid F**king Bird. The F word is used a lot during the show, which made me curious as to how the word became such a bad word nowadays. Was it always considered bad? I decided to investigate.
The exact etymology of the word is hard to trace, but there are some similar words from history that we can safely assume brought about modern day’s most versatile curse word in the English language. When looking at the word’s early beginnings, we need to look pretty far back. In an article from the Huffington Post: “The f-word is of Germanic origin, related to Dutch, German, and Swedish words for ‘to strike’ and ‘to move back and forth'” (Mohr). Another article from Vanity Fair writes: “[...] the word initially appeared in a satirical poem composed sometime around 1500 that takes aim at the Carmelite friars of Cambridge. [...] Drained of its cryptic Latin and less cryptic cryptology, ‘non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk’ begets ‘they are not in heaven because they f*ck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].'” (Weiner). And yet, Dictionary.com claims: “It is remotely derived from the Latin futuere and Old German ficken/fucken meaning ‘to strike or penetrate’, which had the slang meaning ‘to copulate'” (Dictionary.com).
The general consensus seems to be that the word’s derivatives are descriptive of a verb that means movement. At first, it doesn’t seem like this would be negative. But, according to Slate.com, “F#ck has always been an offensive word” (Tsai). In Mohr’s article from the Huffington Post, “Only in the early to mid-nineteenth century did it begin to be used non-literally, as most swearwords are, to insult and offend others, to relieve pain, and to express extremes of emotion, negative and positive.” It all has to do with the time period of which the cursing is taking place. “But what determines the words our society categorizes as too taboo to say? Mohr says swearing “reflects our cultural obsessions,” so whatever topic is considered obscene or problematic in our culture can be implicated in the curse words we use” (Bloom, Teich).
In the recent film, Wolf of Wall Street, the word is used 506 times. Many may think that this is used too much. However, ask any American high school-er about the language used in everyday interactions between peers. The word “f#ck” is typically now used almost as frequently as the word “like.” Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn’t it? In the opinion of a CNN writer, “I remember the teachers who tried to convince me that the main problem with the f-word was not its power to offend, but the evidence it gave of your limited vocabulary. I blew that criticism off back then, but I’m beginning to think they were onto something” (Clark).
Source: Randal S. Olson
The usage of foul language is in forms of media: movies, tv, music, etc. The graph above reveals an interesting trend in the usage of mature elements (language, sex, violence, drugs) in movies rated PG+ since 1991.
Even on TV, during intense scenes that you would normally expect any normal person to curse, the shows contain odd words that are supposed to replace expletives. During an interview with NPR’s pop-culture blogger, Linda Holmes, Neda Ulaby reported, “Maybe you remember all the characters employing their own F-word — ‘frack’ — on Battlestar Galactica. Holmes finds made-up curse words distracting. ‘If you know that frack is just f- – – , it feels phony,’ she says. ‘It takes away from the moment.'” Holmes also brings up the fact that many non-cable channels are now looser with language, “ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox don’t allow characters to use the S-word, let alone the F-word. But that said, these days words such as ‘dick’ and ‘bitch’ — which would’ve been found too vulgar just a decade ago — are bandied about even on Glee and other shows that draw younger audiences.”
On cable TV, there are some shows that have a quota for foul language. Breaking Bad has such a rule; once they reach the limit, the expletives are silenced out. It is good to note that because society shifts its values as time marches on, so do the power of curse words. According to Mohr, “other types of cursing, like referencing sex or excrement, ‘were not powerful in the Middle Ages because . . . they did in public a lot of the things that we do privately and are ashamed of.’ When bodily functions are out in the open, society doesn’t need taboo words for them.” However, during the Renaissance, “as privacy increased, words that had been acceptable to use in the Middle Ages became taboo” (Mohr). This shift in values and thus influence of curse words continues today. Which sparks another question: Now that the F word is used so frequently, will it lose its effect? History will agree this is a good assumption, but, how soon will we tire of the F word?
How much longer will we continue to use f#ck until it becomes obsolete?
Sources: A Brief History of Swearing, What the $@** Is Up On Cable These Days?, The F-Word Is Everywhere, A Concise History of “Fuck”, A F*cking Short History on the F-Word, Whence the !@#$?, What is the origin of the F word?.