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Week 1: Hedda Gabler HENRIK IBSEN 1828-1906. Hedda Gabler, Almeida Theatre 2005, starring Eve Best Hedda Gabler, Old Vic Theatre, 2012, starring Sheridan

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Text of Week 1: Hedda Gabler HENRIK IBSEN 1828-1906. Hedda Gabler, Almeida Theatre 2005, starring Eve Best...

Henrik ibsen 1828-1906

Week 1: Hedda GablerHenrik ibsen1828-1906

Hedda Gabler, Almeida Theatre2005, starring Eve BestHedda Gabler, Old Vic Theatre, 2012, starring Sheridan SmithTwo women in domestic settings. They announce certain themes that are going to be central to this play and this lecture. Framed in architecture a doorway and a window. Imprisoned by it? Sheridan pinched between the two doors. Look at the pinched waists. Its hard for contemporary English language Ibsen to shake off the social historical conditions of Ibsen. C19 drawing rooms and conventions. The corsets literally pinching their bodies into shape. In Eve photo, we are looking at her. Anthropology. A specimen in a tank. Shes looking out of the tank, but not at us. We are invited to scrutinize her actions.In Sheridan photo, shes looking at US. Confrontational. The physical stands for the social restrictions. The tightly coiled hair. Ambiguous expression. Is she inviting us in? Sexuality? Is it an appeal? Secretive? Sexual? Illicit? Someone caught or someone beseeching? She looks out at us from the confines of her costume and location.

Gratuitous. Presenting herself. Dress exaggerates her form. Open neck. Erogenous plus delicate area. Slightly parted lips. Nineteenth century porn. Voyeurism (keyhole, fantasy structured around her not knowing you're watching). and exhibitionism.

Directed Richard Eyre / Anna Mackmin2This disgusting feast of filth Daily Maila gratuitous welter of carnage The Sunday TelegraphA sordid little travesty of a play, The SpectatorSarah kanes blasted: royal court theatre upstairs, 1995

Facing something actual and true and ugly and painful Harold Pinter

Blasted changed reality because it changed the means we have of understanding ourselves. It showed us a new way in which to see realty. Edward Bond

Actually, I see her more as a classical writer. Her work is connected with a form of theatre that is quite confrontational because it doesnt reassure you with social context or Freudian psychology it doesnt explain things. Mark Ravenhill

3The London Daily Telegraph called Ghosts (1881) an open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly; a lazar house with all its doors and windows open. Hedda was particularly controversial:Acrawl with the foulest passions of humanity (Pictorial World, 1891)Things rank and gross in nature alone have a place in the mean and sordid philosophy of Ibsen (Saturday Review, 1891)A horrid miscarriage of the imagination, a monster in female form to whom no parallel can be found in real life (Morganbladet, 1891)

We are all Hedda! (A woman in the audience to the actress Elizabeth Robbins, London premiere, 1891)G B Shaw, The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1891Ibsens open drainLazar house LEPER COLONY4Theatre is not entertainmentTheatre as confrontational. Theatre that addresses the audience that it attacks. Theatre that becomes defended and supported by radicals G B Shaw, the Suffragettes, all of whom saw themselves as outside patriarchal bourgeois society (the dominant C19th class). Ibsen is one of the first playwrights to become internationally known through print.

How ibsen changed theatre5Charles Darwin The Origin of Species (1859)Georg Brandes: Lecture in Copenhagen 1871: For it is not so much our laws that need changing as it is our whole conception of society. 1872 Main Currents in 19th Century Literature (six volumes). No more dangerous book could fall into the hand of a pregnant poet In twenty years, one will not be able to comprehend how spiritual existence at home was possible before these lectures. Ibsen, 1872

Every man shares the responsibility and the guilt of the society to which he belongsTo write is to sit in judgement on oneself Ibsen, 1880

Theories of naturalism19th Century a movement of inquiry and analysis, scientific.

ZOLA Moral experiment with scientific analysis, with a coherent form of stage presentation suitable to the new style of dramatic writing. Calls for a new dramatist to rescue theatre to overthrow the accepted conventions and finally install the real human drama in place of the ridiculous untruths that are on display today. giving a shiver of life to the painted trees, letting in through the backcloth the great, free air of reality. A new kind of acting. Realistic detail in settings.

I believe, then, that we must go back to tragedy not, heaven forbid, to borrow more of its rhetoric, its system of confidants, its declaiming, its endless speeches, but to return to its simplicity of action and its unique psychological and physiological study of the characters. Thus understood, the tragic framework is excellent; one deed unwinds in all its reality, and moves the characters to passions and feelings, the exact analysis of which constitutes the sole interest of the play and in a contemporary environment, with the people who surround us.

This dramatist had already appeared in IBSEN. Strindberg is consciously following Zola post 1887.Chekhov had a strong interest in Zola (Dreyfuss affair). 6mile Zola, Naturalism in the Theatre, 1881:I believe that we must go back to tragedy one deed unwinds in all its reality, and moves the characters to passions and feelings, the exact analysis of which constitutes the sole interest of the play.

I felt pity and terror, as though the play had been Greek Oscar Wilde on Hedda.

The tragedy of a Hedda in real life is not that she commits suicide but that she continues to live! G B Shaw.

Arthur Miller: Tragedy and the Common Man 1949


Expects great things of life and the joy of life. She really wants to live a mans life wholly. But then she has misgivings. Her inheritance, what is implanted in her. She marries Tesman but she devotes her imagination to Eilert Lovborg In reality she does not have the courage to be a part of anything like that. Then she realises her condition. Caught! Cant comprehend it!Hedda, who drives him beyond all limits, draws back at the thought of a scandal. Women have no influence on external matters of government. Therefore they want to have an influence on souls.

Ibsens notesLONG RANGE

The play shall deal with the impossible, that is, to aspire to and strive for something which is against all the conventions, against that which is acceptable to conscious minds Heddas included.The greatest misery in this world is that so many have nothing to do but pursue happiness without being able to find it. They perceive that the times are full of missions worth devoting ones life to, but they cannot discover them.

Ibsens notesI must disclaim the honour of having consciously worked for womens rights. I am not even quite sure what womens rights really are. To me it has been a question of human rights My task has been the portrayal of human beings. (speech to the Norwegian Society for Womens Rights 1898).

What I principally wanted to do was to depict human beings, human emotions, and human desires, upon a groundwork of certain of the social conditions and moral principles of the present day. (1890, a letter to his publisher)

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES?Fin-de-siecle atmosphere: In literature it led to the characterisation of women as passive creatures of emotion and instinct or as dangerously attractive but ruthless dolls, whose instinct is to drag men down to their own biological level. The attempt of such women to control or usurp male creativity was emblematized by the Decadents in vampires, sphinxes, maenads but a particularly apt image was discovered in the symbolic castration. Brian Parker, Modern Drama, 32 (1989)

Beware of the Vampire

Cold, Kate Blanchett which one reviewer described as in need of defrosting.PARKER Started out by mooning the audience. Gothic. A score composed by P J Harvey. Ben Brantley NYT possesses a talent for only one thing: feeling dead. This HG had fallen under the spell of Twilight, the hit movie about the price of loving for teenage vampires. Ghostly pale. Flat-line readings. Saggy pauses. People already dead. VINE LEAVES LINE cut in Christopher Shinn, Ostermeier. Hostility, malice, bad behaviour. What about her psychology? Hopeless? Helpless? Repressed? Bored? Bully, cool detachment. Parker plays Hedda as an icy, eye-rolling, passive-aggressive bitch. Shes as petulant as a cat, and just as unbiddable. The New Yorker. John Lahr12Eve Best nails all the paradoxes of this great role, creating a woman who is at once sexy yet frigid, reckless yet cowardly, bored yet excited, powerful yet vulnerable. Charles Spencer, The Telegraph, 2005 "Richard says he always understood Hedda. I was nerve-racked by that, because I didn't at all. I kept reading it and she seemed quite unpindownable. I wrote a list of all the words you could use to describe her" - here Best frantically reels off a list of stark personality contradictions. "I thought: she's like a will o' the wisp!""She can be simultaneously forceful and fragile," she says. "That's a very rare combination. She can turn on a sixpence. Eve Best, interviewed by Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph, 2005THE FEMALE HAMLETHedda Gabler, dir. Thomas ostermeier, schaubhne, 2005The stichomythia of the Greek and French tragedians was lengthy in comparison with this unceasing display of hissing conversational fireworks, fragments of sentences without verbs, clauses that come to nothing, adverbial exclamations and cryptic interrogatories This rapid broken utterance will give an extraordinary sense of reality. - Edmund Gosse, English translator of Hedda Gabler, 1891.NATURALISM IN ACTINGFreud is said to have learnt Norweigan purely to read Ibsens work. Freud: On the psychical mechanism of hysterical phenomena, 1893. The interpretation of Dreams, 1900Our whole being is nothing but a fight against the dark

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