There are the plays that are done, then done again, then done once more for good measure. Pick most any play by Henrik Ibsen and you will find this to be the case. A small group of University of Idaho students has decided to put their own spin on one of Ibsen”s plays, “Hedda Gabler.”
Performance Director Matt Foss said the cast has retitled the play about a woman struggling to be herself while operating in a semi-Victorian society, “A Hedda Gabler,” to emphasize its uniqueness from other performances, and allow viewers to experience it as its own piece.
The production and concept design of the adaptation was part of a semester-long project, Foss said.
“A large student ensemble was a part of a semester long process called Creation Lab,” Foss said. “Where they created, rendered and adapted the text to what people will see in this performance.”
Foss said the adaptation includes several changes, ranging from an all-female cast to contemporary music and dance numbers that he hopes will add a fresh twist to the classic play.
“There”s some contemporary elements, and non-contemporary ones,” Foss said. “It”s full of juxtapositions, it”s highly theatrical, there”s a rock band and there”s big dance numbers.”
These exciting new features are possibly what UI senior Maiya Corral, who plays the role of Hedda, is most anxious for audiences to experience.
“There”s so many beautiful images in the play, and so many interesting things that happen,” Corral said. “So it was really fun to sit down now, in 2016, and try to figure out what we”re interested in exploring,”
Corral said that she has especially enjoyed the collaborative nature of this production, and that it is a far cry from a traditional theater setting where all roles are very defined throughout the fabrication process.
“(Hedda) is in a different world. There”s so many human aspects to her that I think a lot of people can relate to “¦ She”s like an archetype, or like a creation of her own,” Corral said.
She said that the elements that Hedda represents have posed a difficult challenge to her as an actress, but that this process has revealed what the character is really fighting for.
“She”s (Hedda) in an entirely different world than me, but even in 2016 I can still feel the pressures of being a woman,” said Corral.
This universality is something that Olivia Longin, who plays Thea, is especially keen on.
“In older renditions, I think Thea was seen as more of an antagonist, than just another woman struggling for her spot,” Longin said. “I think that that is what we”re bringing out in our performance.”
She said that the confident characteristics of Thea cause a clash between her and the main character that is utterly imperative to the story.
“It”s very surrealist, and I think that”s going to shock a lot of people, but then I think they”ll grow to like it because of how different and new it is,” Longin said.
“A Hedda Gabler” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25-27 and March 3-5 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 6. Admission is free for UI students, $15 for general admission, $10 for UI faculty, staff and seniors, and $5 for children 12 and under.
Will Meyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org