Henrik Ibsen. Produced by Slovene National Theatre Maribor
Première 6. 2. 2015
Running time 1 hour 15 minutes. No interval.
WHAT I SAW
I am going to write presuming this audience knows Hedda Gabler well, and as such does not need a plot summary. So I’ll be brief, as the production was faithful to the plot and many aspects of what the play calls for. I will therefore only discuss what is specific to this production.
The set is what one notices first: it is a large glass rectangle, partitioned by steel framing into 3 boxes. Inside there are different levels – higher downstage and around the perimeter of the box, lower upstage and towards the center. The box is positioned diagonally onstage, running from the upstage right corner to downstage left. All action happens inside this glass rectangle: Hedda’s home, Hedda’s prison.
Action moves quickly in this production: it is a tight 90 minutes. Scenes end with abrupt blackouts and begin with actors positioned as if mid-conversation. The cast wears contemporary clothes. Props are limited to what is necessary: a gun, drinks, a manuscript, notes, little else. There is no furniture, just platforms at several levels, but all unseeable, hidden below the glass panels.
The production’s Hedda is sleek and refined, a young Kate Blanchett, though perhaps a bit warmer and less imposing. Thea’s red curls bounce as charmingly as her 50s’ inspired dress, though she is less an ingénue, more “ingenue’s best friend.” Tessman is quite young (mid twenties), and Lovborg more like 50s.
The piece is at once composed and sexy. It invests in sexual tension, never released. Like Hedda, it avoids scandal despite its desire to break free and light everything on fire.
WATCH TRAILER FOR HEDDA GABLER
NUTS AND BOLTS
Cast size: 6 - 3F, 3M
Touring Size: Cast of 6, 15 technicians, 4 escorts, totaling 25
Minimum height/width/depth of stage: 10m, 14m, 10m
Cartage Information: One truck for transportation of scenery
Touring History: Chamber Stage Theatre Festival; Rijeka, Croatia; Drama Festival Ljubljana; Theatre Festival "Gaveling Veceri;" Zagreb, Croatia
Translation Options: surtitles available
Representation: Špela Lešnik, Producer, Slovenian National Theatre, Maribor. email@example.com
Availability: This production is available to tour for the foreseeable future.
Director: Mateja Koležnik
Koležnik's opus encompasses over 50 productions. She is often also the author of stage designs, adaptations and translations. She works extensively abroad. She has been awarded many honors for her work. In 2001 Koležnik was a recipient of the Prešeren Foundation Award for the productions of Festen and Knife in Hens. She also received four Borštnik Awards (2001, 2004, 2013, 2014), two Golden Lion Awards at the Umag Theatre Festival (1999, 2000) and the Gavella Award (2006).
Theatre: The Slovene National Theatre of Maribor
The Slovene National Theatre Maribor is the main cultural institution in the town of Maribor and in north-eastern Slovenia. Since it was established in 1919 it has had an immense cultural and political role through its cultural creativity. It develops and preserves Slovene national identity and acts as an important bastion of the Slovene language. In the ninety years of its existence it has given a permanent mark to the city and the surroundings.
The first performance at SNG Maribor was held on 27 September 1919 with a play Tugomer by Josip Jurčič directed by Hinko Nučič, who was also the first principle of SNG Maribor and the first Drama artistic director. In these ninety years there have been 86 regular seasons at SNG Maribor (between 1941–1945 there were four empty seasons because the Slovene theatre was closed due to the war) during which there were 1514 premieres, of which 961 were in Drama, 456 in Opera and 97 in Ballet. Drama has been opened in all the seasons while Opera was only active periodically. It had a permanent artistic ensemble between 1922 and 1928 and since 1945.
Today SNG Maribor is the largest cultural and artistic institute in Slovenia, which is organised into five units: Drama, Opera, Ballet, Symphonic Orchestra and the BORŠNIK FESTIVAL (Maribor Theatre Festival). The Technology Department and Administration Department are common to all of them. In 2009 there were 324 full-time and 150 sessional employees. On five different stages and halls there are 13 premieres held each season (7 dramas, 4 operas, 2 ballets) and 14 concerts, which altogether makes 500 performances seen by approximately 200 000 visitors. SNG Maribor makes guest performances in Slovenia and abroad where, especially in recent years, it has been as one of the most important ambassadors of Slovene theatre creativity.
WRITINGS AND REVIEWS
HEDDA GABLER, quotations from reviews,
The following excerpts about the national as well as international award-winning production of Ibsen's drama Hedda Gabler are taken from published texts by Slovene critics:
Peter Rak (Delo, 13. 2. 2015)
“The director of the performance, Mateja Koležnik, introduced a certain vivisection that is symbolically imbued in set design by Marko Japelj. A diagonal construction, made of glass, proved as an item with manifold functionality: from realistic presentation of a house, which has an overall important role throughout the play, to making an enticing glass bell effect. The construction is appropriated as a concentrated space of lab analysis of protagonists’ personalities and their interpersonal relations and reactions under pervasive LED light.”
Zala Dobovšek (Pogledi, 25. 2. 2015)
“The main focus lies within human condition as such, in relations, complexity of one’s character, suppressed instincts, imaginary, yet unfulfilled life, and all of that psychological bog, in which we find – if we dig deep enough – one’s amazing and usually vulnerable impulses.”
Petra Vidali (Večer, 14. 2. 2015)
“Each and every member from the group of actors – Jurij Drevenšek, Maša Žilavec, Mateja Pucko, Ivo Ban and Matjaž Tribušon – represents a remarkable achievement in drama act, and yet it is quite obvious that the play’s essence lies with Nataša Matjašec Rošker: this is the play for her. She took an absolute advantage and outplayed herself inside out: not even for a blink of an eye, she does not sink into typical hysteria; she is well self-possessed, yet restless, and very precise in each characterization and mysteriously ambiguous.”
REFLECTIONS BY KELLIE
On the whole, this is a successful production of Hedda Gabler. Certainly one of the tighter, more tense, more engaging productions I have seen, and it makes clear Hedda’s greater societal entrapment through the design. Performances are strong, on the whole. Most notable is a scene soon after Hedda, Thea, and Lovborg have decided to spend the evening together: Hedda initiates a sensual, playful, odd dance that the other two take up, each in their own strange, specific way. It is again controlled, but suggests a desire to release that control.
Is this piece surprising? Revelatory? Does it offer something new that other productions have not? No. It is a thoughtful, well produced piece of theater that makes a century-old play feel contemporary and palatable. It does little more.