Old play still around, captivates audiences

The 100-year-old play, titled ‘Hedda Gabler,’ written by Henrik Ibsen, has fallen among many a syllabus in the history of English literature classes. Ibsen’s tragedy tells the tale of Hedda Tesman, a woman who finds her marriage dull and loveless.

She feels trapped in a society that places women in unfair situations, and she looks for ways to satisfy her restless mind.

Ibsen has written many other plays, all of which include characters that are ordinary people. This brings his invention of modern prose drama to life, which in turn makes his plays memorable.

Graduating senior theatre major Megan Grandstaff will be playing the title role of Hedda Tesman. Upon the role itself, she feels as if “most people upon reading ‘Hedda Gabler’ for the first time automatically assume that Hedda is evil, which makes her very one-dimensional,” she says. “I don’t necessarily think that she’s evil, but that she’s trapped and misunderstood.”

Playing the role of Hedda Tesman is a very challenging task, considering that she is a very meaty character. “I think the biggest reward has been making her something that can be understood – someone that you can have sympathy for and not just view as pure evil,” Grandstaff says. Even though Grandstaff is playing a role, she can see pieces of herself in the character.

“There are times still today in society when we get very trapped because we’re women and there’s certain things that we can’t do,” she says. “I do understand where she’s coming from … I understand why a woman would be driven to do some of the things that [Hedda] does.”

Stage manager Thomas Humes describes ‘Hedda Gabler’ as a realistic play. “In realistic plays, you have to pay very close attention to details … most of the other plays that are done are non-realistic and do not really have to worry about such questions, and it lets the director have more of a creative input.”

Even though ‘Hedda Gabler’ is a minimal production when compared to its contemporaries, it is something that students and teachers alike can appreciate. “There are human relationships in the way in which people find themselves and who they are throughout the show,” Grandstaff says. “I think we all need to see some of that once and a while. We all need a dose of real life without the splashiness of violence and sex.”

Director Lesa Lockford agrees. “I think everyone at some level is interested in people who, despite their best intentions, make bad choices, who find themselves in situations that they would like to change, who wish beyond anything else to have an influence on the world,” she says. “I think we like a tale of deceit and manipulation.”

Lockford believes that the cast has great talent.

“They’re extraordinarily supportive of each other, they really work well together; they’re very intelligent and very strong in their craft,” she says. “These actors take direction and think and bring new ideas to the rehearsals. This is really foregrounding acting.”

Humes highly recommends ‘Hedda Gabler’ to the student body. “Students should come to see this play because it is the first play I’ve seen here that has paid such attention to detail and yet is very enticing to watch,” he says. “It is like a book that you just can not put down.”

‘Hedda Gabler’ will be playing tomorro at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Joe E. Brown Theatre, in University Hall. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased by calling the box office at 419-372-2719.