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Unfettered Classics

Ready-to-Perform Editions

A great play. A lean script. Public Domain. You’re ready to run!

Hedda Gabler

A Ready-to-Perform Edition

A Play by Henrik Ibsen

Translated by Edmund Gosse and William Archer
Edited by Mark Perry


Now available at Amazon.com
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TITLE: Hedda Gabler: A ready-to-perform edition

AUTHOR: Henrik Ibsen

CAST:  4 Female:3 Male

RUNTIME: Approx. 90 minutes

PRINT FORMAT: Trade Paperback, 5.5 X 8.5, 94 pages. $4.99 List Price

EBOOK:  (Not yet available)

ISBN: 978-0-9834701-5-1

LOC/PCN: 2018965537

PUBLICATION: December 2018 by Drama Circle.

The honeymoon is over, and Hedda is feeling trapped. Reared in privilege as the daughter of the great General Gabler, she has married somewhat beneath her station into the ‘genteel poverty’ offered by her husband, George Tesman, a well-meaning and industrious academic, who is doing all he can to meet her every whim. It is not enough. Her needs are deeper. And darker. Even as she struggles to restrain herself from acting on wild impulses, she begins to crave the fatal power to mold someone else’s destiny. That someone else turns out to be the only one in the world that Hedda might in fact love. Will Hedda awaken a sense of empathy before things go too far? Can she find meaning in a life so filled with limitations?

‘Unfettered Classics’ offers a careful editing of Ibsen’s brilliant character study that retains all the play’s dynamism while reducing its play time by nearly an hour.

This translation and revision of Hedda Gabler is in the public domain, and you are free to produce it without permission. This is Volume 1 of an intended series of “Unfettered Classics,” canonical works edited down for a modern audience.


This edited version of Hedda Gabler was originally performed with students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in November 2018. It proved capable of communicating the full force of Ibsen’s story while cutting down the runtime by nearly an hour.

“We began with the public domain translation of Gosse and Archer, which has the virtue of using spoken language that is ‘of the time.’ There were some words or phrases that were antiquated and needed changing, but by the far the biggest problem was simply how wordy the play was. That’s not the liability of a translation, but of the original. In Ibsen’s time, this play was taut and clocklike. Today, in an era of precise editing and reduced attentiveness, it trudges along and the audience gets frustrated with the pacing and repetition. I say the “audience” and not the “reader,” because the difference shows up when it is read aloud. The eye, in this case, is more forgiving than the ear.   

“So the undertaking was to cut the play’s dialogue, to carve out repetition and excess, so that the essential shape of Ibsen’s play would be manifest. In the end, 35-40% of the bulk of Ibsen’s dialogue was cut. The result was surprising and refreshing. It retained the play’s power, but not its plodding.  The success of this revised script compelled me to make it available to other groups, especially those who feel they lack the time or skillset to do it themselves.”



Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was the playwright responsible for “A Doll House” and other epochal works. He is considered the Father of Modern Drama.