“I am very practiced in keeping secrets.”
Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century Norwegian feminist classic about a desperate woman driven to destruction was ground-breaking in its day, and celebrated Canadian playwright Judith Thompson’s boundary-pushing adaptation lends it a sharply contemporary perspective.
Director Jane Carnwath notes that the play’s language, quite wordy and often pedantic in previous translations, becomes in Judith Thompson’s adaptation “both lush and sharply vernacular. The characters teem with nuanced, contradictory life, their wars fought on a battlefield of physical and social extremes. Hedda is a restless animal pacing in her cage, driven by demons of fear, rage, longing, a sense of alienation.”
Thompson roots Hedda’s desperation in her problematic relationship with her father, which drives her to make ill-considered choices that ultimately destroy her. In this production, the action is set in the mid-1930s – when women were still dominated by the men in their lives, but, as Carnwath points out, “were rewarded for being clever and flirtatious – just so long as they behaved themselves and didn’t rock too many boats.”
Within Alumnae Theatre’s intimate Studio space, set designer Ed Rosing highlights Hedda’s sense of confinement in her loveless marriage with prison-like bars hanging from the ceiling, and an abstract spiderweb design on the floor.
Sound designer/movement coach Rick Jones was inspired bythe works of the 1930’s Neue Vienner Schule (Webern, Schoenberg, and Berg), to compose preludes and entre’acte music evoking this time and place, using its blatant atonality and serialism to create a sense of menace and foreboding. The choreography of Hedda’s dream sequence – influenced by 1930’s movement analyst and choreographer Rudolf Laban – conveys her realization that she has created a trap from which she can find no escape.
Michael Spence’s moody lighting design reinforces the inner struggle that Hedda faces as she confronts her sexuality and mortality, and Margaret Spence’s 1930s costumes provide striking character delineation, ranging from lush and outrageous to sober and buttoned-up.
Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of Hedda Gabler features Andrew Batten, Ilene Cummings, James Harbeck, Leslie McBay, Jane Reynolds, Malcolm Taylor and Sochi Fried as Hedda.
Hedda Gabler runs Nov 12 – 27, 2010 in the Alumnae Theatre Studio, with a talkback after the matinée on Sun, Nov 21.
For reservations, call 416-364-4170 (box 1) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Alumnae website for rehearsal photos: www.alumnaetheatre.com/1011hedda.html