" People don't do such things!"-Ibsen’s Hedda GablerThe Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) is generally regarded as second only to Shakespeare among Western playwrights of the past 400 years. In part, his stature rests upon austere powers of condensation: reading Hedda Gabler, you can't miss a word. Even more widely recognized is the dramatist's prescience in regard to controversial issues destined to loom larger in the decades after his death. He turned his fierce intelligence to analysis of unexamined assumptions, destructive conventions, and fervent hypocrisies embedded in the society of his time and still insidiously operative in our own. Imagined with psychological depth, his heroes (Hedda being among the foremost) have lost none of their power to intrigue and perplex. No mere controversialist, Ibsen insisted late in life that "I have been more the poet and less the social philosopher than people generally seem inclined to believe." While not slighting aspects of theatrical performance, we will emphasize Hedda Gabler as a literary masterpiece—a work that Ibsen himself regarded not only as a stage play, but a dramatic poem.
Three Tuesdays: 4:30–6:00 p.m., Butterfield Room, Wasch Center
November 1, 8, 15