A new take on Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ comes to Melville Theatre

A family connection has led to the production of a classic play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen at Melville Theatre.

Belvoir St Theatre artistic director Eamon Flack adapted Ibsen’s Ghosts for a 2017 Sydney production – and now his second cousin Thomas Dimmick is directing the show in Perth.

Regarded as a scathing commentary on 19th-century morality, Ghosts is the story of Helene Alving who is about to open an orphanage in her late husband’s name.

Her maid Regine is helping to prepare things, Regine’s carpenter father has been working on the building and Pastor Manders is organising the paperwork.

At the same time, Helene’s son has also come back from Paris for the occasion.

“These five characters have a number of intersecting relationships and, over the course of a single day, we see many truths come to light and some honesty between them all,” Director Thomas Dimmick said. “Ghosts is a show about the effects left behind after someone is gone, so don’t expect any real spirits to appear.

“The biggest challenge is maintaining the authenticity of the story.

“Each of the five characters has distinct motivations and deep histories to get across in a short amount of time but so much of it is in the subtext, which can be difficult to find at times.”

Involved in theatre for several years, Thomas has written, directed and produced shows at Fringe World with Black Martini Productions and has also been involved with the Graduate Dramatic Society, Kelete Studios and the Old Mill, Tempest, Harbour, Art in Motion and Melville Theatres.

He has received several awards and nominations for roles in William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged), Les Miserables, Present Laughter, A View From The Bridge and Camelot.

“ When Melville Theatre asked if I would submit a show for consideration I went looking and, when I found my second cousin had adapted Ghosts, that connection inspired me to read the script,” Thomas said.

“I was immediately taken to the story and the language – every character has a complex journey and clearly has a view on everything that has happened.

“My favourite kind of theatre is where you simply have characters talking in the same space.

“You can get so much from simple conversations that come from characters with history.”

Ibsen is recognised as one of the founders of modersim in theatre, and he’s considered the father of ‘realism’. While his works A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler are some of the most regularly performed plays in the world, he wrote many plays including Peer GyntAn Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck and When We Dead Awaken.

 Ghosts was first performed in 1883 in Chicago by a Danish Theatre Company who were touring the United States. The plays title was translated into English as Ghosts, but a more accurate translation of the original Danish title Gengangere would be “ones who return” or “the revenants”, it’s Danish title having a double meaning that is somewhat lost in translation.

The play has been performed regularly since it’s debut. A 1982 revival on Broadway saw the Broadway debut of Kevin Spacey. A screen version was created by the BBC in 1987 starring Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Gambon and Natasha Richardson.

Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts plays at 8pm August 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 with a 2pm matinee August 14. Tickets are available via www.TAZTix.com.au. Melville Theatre is at 393A Canning Highway (corner of Stock Road), Palmyra.

Source: Media Release

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