SEPTEMBER 2019 | Volume 183
Come see yourself in Henrik Ibsen’s classic character study, Hedda Gabler.
Presented by True Pulse Theatre Co., in their company launching show, Hedda Gabler returns to the stage in Vancouver. Director Emilio Merritt strips away the conventional set, set decoration, wardrobe, and even time and space, in this rendition of Norwegian realist Henrik Ibsen’s psychological drama showcasing truth in emotion. Passion in action. Human behaviour and mental illness in authenticity.
Hedda, outstandingly beautiful daughter of the late General Gabler, returns from her honeymoon with scholar husband Jorgen to confront the boredom and banality of married life, the feeling of emptiness and the hard truth of not knowing her real purpose in life. This exploration of pathology and mental disorder of not only Hedda, but everyone else in this play, represents Ibsen’s most powerful protest against the double standard society. Hedda Gabler, despite a profound craving for independence, has no personal resources, nor the ability for a constructive effort at self-determination. Throughout the play Hedda expresses her frustration in only destructive attempts at self-realization. Not having any positive influence in the world, Hedda Gabler can only define herself negatively: she destroys what she cannot accept.
Director Emilio Merritt was professionally trained in Mexico and Canada. He has written, directed, and produced five plays prior to this project. After the closing night of his most recent original play, Dali & Hopper at the Cultch in 2017, he knew that his next show as director would have to be a classic drama. “Ibsen and Arthur Miller have been my biggest inspirations so that was my first clue,” says Emilio. “I remember reading Hedda Gabler for the first time and being captivated by it.” While it has been 20 years since that that first reading, the impact that it had on him has only intensified. “Of course my life has changed quite a bit in this time and my life experience made me see all the more the importance of this play now. Human behaviour is the same as it was in 1890, so it didn’t feel old at all,” Emilio reminisces.
While he knew he wanted to do classic theatre, Emilio didn’t want to present it in a historical way or do a safe, by the book production of it. Each line of dialogue’s psychological aspect is worked and explored by the cast. This is to showcase the mastery of understanding of human behaviour that Ibsen had and make it feel like the action is without time or place, creating an organic encounter between two humans beings, the actor and the audience member. The other goal of this production is to make the theatre experience approachable and relatable to a younger audience not necessarily interested in historical pieces. How would Hedda Gabler appear today? Director Emilio Merritt explains, “I looked at today’s possible Heddas. An Instagram influencer that has millions of followers but behind the curtains lives depressed and unsatisfied. A model walking the catwalk showing a trendy outfit, slim figure, and gorgeous make-up and hair, but once she’s off the catwalk she feels emptiness from her superficial world. She may realize she is a narcissist, incapable of empathy. What would she do? Add to that all the depths that Ibsen wrote in every line and in every character and we have a modern play that seems that it was written today.” Hedda Gabler is a classic tragedy and how do we relate to it in 2019? That was part of the hard work the team was able to muster, to make this play a reality.
The cast of professional actors who bring the humanity, truth, and passion to life in this production have all committed countless hours of preparation to nail all of the nuances of these complex characters. The show features Swedish actress Janya Cambronero Severin as Hedda Gabler and Evan Schulte as Jorgen Tesman; as well as Cassandra Bourchier as Thea, Emilio Merritt as Lovor, Trish Allen as Aunt Julia, Jeff Wyndham as Judge Brack, Seth Johnson as Bert and Denet Albores as Señorita Diana. The depth and challenge of the play motivated the actors to dive in with both feet. “Hedda Gabler has fascinated me since I first read it in 1971; the complex characters and relationships, and how their interactions in a 24-hour time period radically change the course of their lives,” says talented Vancouver actor and one of Canada’s top voice/dialect coaches, Trish Allen, when asked why she joined the cast. “I am open to change,” she declares, and for us it is an honour having her in our production.
- Performances will run for three months, every Friday, starting on October 11 until December 13 (with the exception of Friday November 8) with 3 extra shows on Tuesday November 5, Saturday December 7, and Saturday December 14.
- Shows take place at the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre, 7646 Prince Albert Street, Vancouver.
- Doors open at 7:00pm and the play starts at 7:30pm.
- Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at heddagablervancouver.com, or at the door. Cash, Visa, MasterCard, and debit will be accepted.
True Pulse Theatre Co. intends to provide an artistically safe and exploratory space for creators and performers to showcase their talents. Through the mediums of theatre, film, video, and the written word members will explore truth in expression and intention. True Pulse will produce original works of performance art as well as bringing existing pieces to life through our mediums. Collaboration, communication, professionalism, and unity will be the driving forces with which our members will work and create.
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