Elevator Repair Service is a seminal and long-running NYC theatre company, founded in 1991 by artistic director John Collins. Seagull is the first time they’ve graced the NYU Skirball stage since their 2019 run of Gatz. This time, they’re tackling one of Chekhov’s most beloved works, with less strict fidelity to the text than they displayed in Gatz. Learn more about the company and about Seagull on their website.

Can’t get enough Chekhov? Read about another adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, developed by Celine Song in the first year of Covid lockdown and performed on Twitch, using the Sims video game as stage.

Office Hours: Coming Soon

Get Into It

Explore Elevator Repair Service’s extensive oeuvre, including this retrospective from the first 2 decades of their work, and some sneak peaks at Seagull.

Get Thee to the LIbrary

Recommended readings to get you in gear for the show.

Frances Babbage, Adaptation In Contemporary Theatre: Performing Literature. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. 

Sara Jane Bailes, Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure: Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service. London: Routledge, 2011.

Douglas Clayton and Yana Meerzon (eds), Adapting Chekhov: The Text and Its Mutations. London, Routledge, 2012.

Harai Golomb, A New Poetics of Chekhov’s Plays: Presence Through Absence. Eastbourne, UK, Sussex Academic Press, 2014.

James N. Loehlin, The Cambridge Introduction to Chekhov. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Read All About It

Bomb Magazine | Apr 1, 1999

Elevator Repair Service by Coco Fusco

“We like things to look like they’re going wrong.”

Ecumenica | March 11, 2016

Interview with John Collins of Elevator Repair Service

“It’s a completely intuitive process even when the text is very familiar.”

Extra Credit

We’ve picked a book to complement each show in our season. We’ve got novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and memoir. It’s a fun, informal way to find a new favorite book, and get your brain into gear for the show.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi


Pulitzer finalist Susan Choi’s multi-part, narrative-upending novel, in which “the long reverberations of adolescent experience, the complexities of consent and coercion, and the inherent unreliability of narratives… are timeless and resonant.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.

As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, and about friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.


No spoilers… but Trust Exercise‘s formal shifts and narrative instability resonates with Elevator Repair Service’s experimentation, reliance on audience participation, and the collapse of the fourth wall. Choi’s characters don’t get into Chekhov, the intimacy and intensity of the text demands the readers’ full attention.