[The following are the “Director’s Notes” for KTC’s current production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”, performed through Mon, November 19 at UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art. The notes were entitled “Centering with Hedda.” Click for More Info.]
Ibsen once described his play as a study of the “daemonic,” referring to an uncontrolled life-force that borders on the supernatural. Psychologists today might see in it a portrait of Antisocial Personality Disorder. Both descriptions have their value, but they may reinforce the voyeuristic tendency that keeps us on the outside, gaping at a fascinating, if terrifying, character. Our production seeks to understand the play’s central character from the inside.
It is true that Hedda is beset by forces and limitations, both external and internal, but we choose to see her also as an individual with choice and power, even as she struggles to recognize them as such. This general concept was started by a visiting Russian artist, who cast the show to include an ensemble of dancers and then worked intensively with the student actors on breaking down the moment-to-moment motivations in key scenes.
From this beginning, we developed the concept of an encircling “mind-space,” which literally surrounds Hedda and the more naturalistic home environment she appears stuck within. From that mind-space emerge impulses, judgments and calls of conscience. She listens or she avoids these as she will. It is Hedda, however, who is always at the center. It is Hedda who calls the shots.