Paul Schmidt and the Art of Translation

3/16/2014 Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the death of Paul Schmidt, translator of The Seagull, and one of the most influential critics, translators, and playwrights of his time. Mark Bennett and Margaret Sand, joint literary executors of his estate, and Catherine A. Ciepiela, Chair of Russian at Amherst College, will speak about his contribution to the field and his body of work, excerpts of which will be performed by members of The Seagull cast.




Paul Schmidt (1934-1999) was one of the most influential critics, translators, and playwrights of his time. His translations, including plays by Chekhov, Gogol, Genet, Brecht, and Marivaux, have been staged such directors as Robert Wilson, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Peter Sellars and have won awards in France, Italy, and the United States. His plays have been performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, and Institute for Contemporary Art in London. Dr. Schmidt held a Ph.D. in Slavic Literature from Harvard University and was a Professor of Russian Literature at the University of Texas and at Wellesley College. He also taught at Harvard, Cornell University, and Yale University, and lectured widely in the US and abroad. His critical essays appeared in The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and Delos. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Dr. Schmidt was the author of Meyerhold at Work and editor of The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud and The Collected Works of Velimir Khlebnikov. His collected translations of Chekhov's plays were published in 1997 by Harper Collins.

(As of October 2014)

Mark Bennett is a literary executor of Paul Schmidt's estate. He composed original music for The Seagull directed by Maria Aitken and has additional Huntington credits that include Dead End, The Rose Tattoo, and Persephone (all dircted by Nicholas Martin). Broadway credits include The Coast of Utopia (Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Score), Macbeth, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Driving Miss Daisy, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Goat, Henry IV, A Steady Rain, Tartuffe, A View from the Bridge, and Lily Tomlin's The Search... Off Broadway credits include US premiers of An Iliad (Obie Award), Mad Forest, Tony Kushner's L'Illusion, My Children, My Africa!, and Dogeaters. Mr. Bennett has composed eight productions for The Public Theater / NYSF and all five of the Sam Mendes, BAM, and Old Vic's Bridge Project productions (including Kevin Spacey's Richard III). He is the recipient of the 2008 Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, 14 Drama Desk Award nominations, and three Lucille Lortel Award nominations. He is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory.


About The Seagull

Kate Burton (TV's "Scandal") returns to the Huntington for Chekhov's emotionally rich classic, directed by Huntington favorite Maria Aitken (The Cocktail Hour, Betrayal, and Private Lives). Celebrated actress Irina Arkadina's visit to her aspiring playwright son with her successful novelist lover in tow kindles unrequited passions and petty jealousies in Anton Chekhov's masterpiece about love, missed connections, and what it means to be an artist. Burton's son Morgan Ritchie, who appeared with her in The Corn is Green, plays Arkadina's son Konstantin.

"Maria is such a beloved member of the Huntington family and gifted interpreter of the classics, and she will undoubtedly coax incredible humor and pathos out of Chekhov's masterpiece."— Peter DuBois

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