Rediscovering Hedda Gabler

HEDDA Marthe Snorresdotter RovikIbsen’s classic play ‘Hedda Gabler’ is on this month at the Blue Room. Taking on the lead role is Norwegian born actress Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik. Marthe tells us that growing up in Norway everyone knows the play so well. She can’t remember when she was first introduced to it.

“That’s how it is growing up in Norway. I can’t even remember the first time I read this play.”

The actress is eager to perform the play because she believes something has been lost in the translation between Norwegian society and the Victorian English society where the play was first performed in English.

“They portray her as a gender oppressed woman, but for me as a Norwegian woman I’ve never seen Hedda Gabler that way… she’s a complete woman who’s just making some really bad decisions,” said Marthe, “She’s making decisions based on her circumstances.”

“Every time I see it performed in English I just feel that there is something missing, it’s not just elements of the text that get lost in translation. It’s the understanding of the country and  the culture and where these people in the play are and what’s happening around them.”

Marthe feels that play is one that transcends time, “It’s almost possible to take Hedda Gabler out of the 1890’s, drop her into 2013 and she’d almost have the same problems.”

The production takes advantage of that possibility and makes slight changes to the context.

“Instead of writing a book, they might have a digital project to work on,” said Marthe, “Instead of writing letters to each other, today they might send text messages. It can be moved into now, but it’s still got the same characters and the same problems.”

Marthe tells is she is surprised that so many people are familiar with ‘Hedda Gabler; “I always thought a Doll’s House was the international one, but this is one of the classics, all actresses want to play Hedda Gabler.”

Hedda Gabler is on at the Blue Room from 13-31 August.

Graeme Watson

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