Theater for the New Town to Perform August Strindberg’s Rep at HEDDA GABLER in September
Director/translator Robert Greer will stage Ibsen’s 1981 “Hedda Gabler” in Norway for the world premiere of her modern translation of the play, to be presented by the Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., September 23-October 9. -imagine the academic rivalry between George Tesman and Eilert Lovborg and re-design the character of Hedda as a 1980s socialite.
In Ibsen’s 1891 play, George Tesman launches himself for a professorship in the field of the history of science and technology on the merits of his massive volume, “Brabant: medieval technologies and their socio-economic implications “. In Greer’s adaptation, Tesman’s work retains that dusty focus. However, Tesman’s perennial academic rival Eilert Lovborg is set to release a much snazzier tome, predicting from contemporary scientific developments that personal computers will soon be found next to every chimney and a network will cover the world imminently. Tesman and Lovborg are competing for the same professorship.
Tesman lives beyond his means: his young wife, Hedda, daughter of a general, is dangerously bored. She wants luxury but has no equity. Indiscreet by nature, she found herself wielding a strange psychic power over both Loyborg and his platonic companion, Thea. So Hedda is ready to take down her husband’s rival and secure Tesman’s professorship, ensuring her own financial security. She manipulates Lovborg into a relapse of his alcoholism, during which he loses the typescript of his diary. It falls into Hedda’s clutches and she burns it in her fireplace. The loss of the greatest work of his life makes Lovborg suicidal. Hedda’s plot would be complete except that the lascivious Judge Brack, someone even more evil than her, desires her and guesses that she provided one of her father’s two pistols to Lovborg for his intent to suicide. Hedda uses the other gun on herself to escape Brack’s trap.
In Greer’s approach, the play is less a demonstration of the 19th century notion of the “new woman” than a lesson in the destructiveness of professional competition. The essential elements are fully preserved while the dialogue is updated in modern language to support the modernity of Ibsen’s themes. Henrik Ibsen is now considered the father of modern theatre. The main characters will change recognizably in the diction of their roles. Tesman and Lovborg will speak in the professorial tone of modern academics. Hedda will speak in the soft cashmere vowels of a modern socialite.
Translator/director Robert Greer is artistic director of August Strindberg Rep, which is a resident company of TNC. He has directed 15 Strindberg plays with the company to date. He has also directed English premieres of many contemporary Scandinavian playwrights, including Sweden’s Marianne Goldman, Helena Sigander, Cecilia Sidenbladh, Oravsky and Larsen, Hans Hederberg, Margareta Garpe and Kristina Lugn; Dane Stig Dalager and Norwegian Edvard Rønning. He has also staged classics by Victoria Benedictsson, Laura Kieler, Anne Charlotte Leffler and Amalie Skram. His productions have been presented at the Strindberg Museum and the Strindberg Festival, Stockholm; Edinburgh and New York Fringe Festivals, Barnard College, Columbia University, Rutgers, UCLA; Miranda, Pulse and Theater Row Theatres, La MaMa, Manhattan Theater Source, Tribeca Lab, Synchronicity, TSI, BargeMusic; and The Duplex to the. He has also directed plays by Mario Fratti, Sartre and Corneille here in New York. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors’ Equity Association, Strindberg Society, Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study and Swedish Translators in North America.
The actors are : Nathalie Menna as Hedda, Bailey Newman as Thea, John Cencio Burgos as Tesman, Mike Roche as Judge Brack, and TBA as Lovborg. The manager is Jose F. Ruiz.
Nathalie Menna (Hedda) appeared at the Theater for the New City in the lead roles of four Strindberg plays: Elise in the world premiere of “Pelican/Isle of the Dead”, Laura in “The Father”, Tekla in “Creditors” and Alice in “Dance of Death, Parts 1 & 2”, all in new translations by Robert Greer. Menna is also a playwright. His absurd piece, “Occasionally Nothing,” premiered on TNC last season. She is also the author of “Committed,” which will be presented by TNC in January, and playwright-in-residence of August Strindberg Rep, for which she adapted “Journey in Light and Shadow” by modern Danish playwright Stig Dalager. His other pieces include “Zen AM” (TNC, 2019) and a variety of award-winning short pieces.
August Strindberg Repertoire theatre, under the direction of Robert Greer, is dedicated to producing Nordic plays in new translations and interpretations that illuminate the works for American audiences today. This writing helped make the transition from kitchen and keyhole drama to poetic theater. That’s why TNC has made this repertoire part of its family. Mr. Greer writes: “Strindberg’s representative is deeply grateful to crystal field for making us a resident company. Crystal’s support for new parts (and newly translated parts) has been a boon to us. His knowledge and experience of theater is a beacon to guide us and his unwavering dedication to the dramatic art and its performers is a model for leaders of all cultural institutions.”
The scenography is Lytza Colon. The lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff. Costume design is by Billy Little.