Plays by Henrik Ibsen

audio A Doll House

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Nora Helmer has everything a young housewife could want: beautiful children, an adoring husband, and a bright future. But when a carelessly buried secret rises from the past, Nora’s well-calibrated domestic ideal starts to crumble. Ibsen’s play is as fresh today as it was when it first stormed the stages of 19th-century Europe.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Calista Flockhart as Nora Helmer

Tony Abatemarco as Dr. Rank

Tim Dekay as Torvald Helmer

Jeannie Elias as Anne-Marie/ Helene

Gregory Itzin as Nils Krogstad

Jobeth Williams as Mrs. Linde

Translated by Rolf Fjelde. Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in September, 2011.

Featuring: Tony Abatemarco, Tim DeKay, Jeannie Elias, Calista Flockhart, Gregory Itzin, JoBeth Williams

video A Doll’s House (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Henrik Ibsen struck an early blow for feminism in 1879 with this liberated tale of a wife who rebels. Juliet Stevenson plays Nora who finally revolts against her husband's perception of her as a doll-wife whose opinions count for nothing.

‘A new, pointedly ideological translation by Joan Tinsdale is both sharp and felicitous…Ibsen is served brilliantly’ New York Times.

‘Exceptionally acted’ L. A Times

Credits:

Director: David Thacker; Producer: Simon Curtis; Starring: Juliet Stevenson, Trevor Eve, Geraldine James, Patrick Malahide and David Calder.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

A Doll's House (trans. McGuinness)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Nora Helmer, wife to Torvald and mother of three children, appears to enjoy living the live of a pampered, indulged child. But as her economic dependence becomes brutally clear, Nora’s acceptance of the status quo undergoes a profound change. To the bewildered Torvald, himself caught in the tight web of a conservative society which demands that he exert strict control, Nora comes to see that the only possible true course of action is to leave the family home.

A Doll’s House (trans. Meyer; Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This Student Edition of A Doll's House provides a wealth of scholarly information, annotation and background to aid the study of Ibsen's seminal play.

The slamming of the front door at the end of Ibsen’s electrifying play shatters the romantic masquerade of Nora and Torvald’s marriage. In their stultifying and infantilised relationship, they have deceived themselves and each other into thinking they are happy. But Nora’s concealment of a loan she had to take out for her husband’s sake forces their frivolous conversation to an irrevocable crisis, until Nora claims her right to individual freedom.

Ibsen’s 1879 play shocked its first audiences with its radical insights into the social roles of husband and wife. His portrayal of his flawed heroine, Nora, remains one of the most striking dramatic depictions of late-nineteenth century woman.

This version is translated by Michael Meyer, and was first performed in 1964 at the Playhouse, Oxford.

A Doll's House (trans. Stephens)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The slamming of the front door at the end of Ibsen’s delicate and electrifying play shatters the romantic masquerade of the Nora and Torvald’s marriage. In their stultifying and infantilised relationship, they have deceived themselves and each other into thinking they are happy. But Nora’s concealment of a loan she had to take out for her husband’s sake forces their frivolous conversation to an irrevocable crisis, until Nora claims her right to individual freedom.

Ibsen’s 1879 play shocked its first audiences with its radical insights into the social roles of husband and wife. His portrayal of his flawed heroine, Nora, remains one of the most striking dramatic depictions of late-nineteenth century woman.

This version is translated by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, and was first performed at the Young Vic, London on 29 June 2012

audio An Enemy of the People

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

When a small town relies on tourists flocking to its baths, will a report of dangerously polluted waters be enough to shut them down? Henrik Ibsen weighs the cost of public health versus a town’s livelihood in An Enemy of the People.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring: Richard Kind, Gregory Harrison, Rosalind Ayres, Emily Swallow, Josh Stamberg, Tom Virtue, Alan Shearman, Alan Mandell, and Jon Matthews. Additional voices by Sam Boeck, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein, Julia Coulter, and Jeff Gardner. Directed by Martin Jarvis.

Includes an interview with Joel K. Bourne, Jr., former senior environment editor for National Geographic, on man-made environmental disasters, climate change, and the state of the world's water supply.

An Enemy of the People is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Gregory Harrison, Richard Kind, Alan Mandell, Jon Matthews, Alan Shearman, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Tom Virtue. Additional various voices by Sam Boeck, Julia Coulter, Jeff Gardner, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein

An Enemy of the People (trans. Hampton)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.

Dr Stockmann attempts to expose a water pollution scandal in his home town which is about to establish itself as a spa. When his brother conspires with local politicians and the newspaper to suppress the story, Stockmann appeals to a public meeting - only to be shouted down and reviled as 'an enemy of the people'. Ibsen's explosive play reveals his distrust of politicians and the blindly held beliefs of the masses.

Christopher Hampton's version of Ibsen's classic was first staged at the National Theatre, London, in 1997.

An Enemy of the People (trans. Lenkiewicz)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Power. Money. Morality. In a tight knit community a shocking discovery comes to light and threatens the lifeblood of the town. Truth and honour are pitched against wild ambition and corruption in Ibsen's emotional maelstrom.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz's version of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London in April 2008.

Ghosts (adapt. Bullmore)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Ghosts is Ibsen's formidably realistic play about the effects of previous generations on the young, a stinging satire on contemporary Norwegian society and morality, and a haunting tragedy that, more than a century since it premiered, still retains its power to shock.

Osvald Alving has returned from Paris to his mother's home, carrying with him a dreadful secret. His mother's delight at having him home soon turns to horror and grief. The corruption that she had hoped to spare him from when sending him away from the influence of his depraved father has in fact infected his whole body in the form of syphillis.

In Mrs Alving and her son's distrust of conventional religion and mores and Oswald's anguish with life, Ibsen created a thoroughly modern and provocative work. It created widespread outrage and shock when first produced in 1881.

This translation was first presented by the Gate Theatre, London, in a new version by Amelia Bullmore, directed by Anna Mackmin, in January and February 2007.

Ghosts (trans. Lenkiewicz)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Norway, 1881. Mrs. Alving is ecstatic when her son Osvald visits after many years abroad. He has returned to celebrate the heroic memory of his dead father. But within hours of Osvald's homecoming his mother is forced to unearth the past and reveal its terrifying ghosts.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz's version of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, or Those Who Return, premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in a co-production with ATC in July 2009.

video Hedda Gabler (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Ibsen's classic story of a woman who sets out to destroy her husband and his smug, middle-class attitudes, but instead finds herself having to make a grave decision. This television production is related to the 1991 Abbey Theatre, Dublin production which transferred to the West End. Fiona Shaw had played the lead role in that production which was also directed by Deborah Warner.

Credits:

A BBC production in association with WGBH Boston. Director: Deborah Warner; Writer: Henrik Ibsen; Producer: Simon Curtis. Starring: Fiona Shaw (Mind Games), Brid Brennan, Donal McCann (The Serpent's Kiss), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Nicholas Woodeson (The Avengers).

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Hedda Gabler (trans. Friel)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Hedda Gabler returns, dissatisfied, from a long honeymoon. Bored by her aspiring academic husband, she foresees a life of tedious convention. And so, aided and abetted by her predatory confidante, Judge Brack, she begins to manipulate the fates of those around her to devastating effect.

Brian Friel's version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler premiered at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in September 2008, to celebrate the theatre's birthday, eighty years after the Gate's inaugural production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt.

Hedda Gabler (trans. Meyer)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Hedda Gabler is a hard and brilliant tragedy on the purposelessness of life, and a comment on the difficulty of finding personal fulfilment in the stifling world of late nineteenth century bourgeois society, particularly for women.

The eponymous Hedda is an electrically complex woman bored to death by her suburban life. Recently married to George Tesman, an academic happily absorbed in his obscure research, she returns from their honeymoon to a handsomely furnished house and a meaningless existence. In the drawing room, with an insidious judge, a wayward visionary writer and his loyal wife, she impulsively creates a dark, mercurial, anxious drama.

Ibsen wrote Hedda Gabler in Munich in 1890 shortly before his return to Norway. The play initially met with universal condemnation and misunderstanding. This translation was first performed in 1960 at the 4th Street Theatre, New York.

John Gabriel Borkman (trans. Eldridge)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A scorching indictment of nineteenth century capitalism, Ibsen’s penultimate play paints a devastating picture of selfish ambition.

John Gabriel Borkman paces alone in an upstairs room. Downstairs, his wife Gunhild waits for their son to vindicate the family name. They have lived on separate floors for eight years, following Borkman’s imprisonment for fraud on an enormous scale. Gunhild’s twin sister Ella, who was also in love with Borkman, arrives – she is dying, and comes to lay her claim to Erhart, the nephew whom she brought up during Borkman’s incarceration.

The atmosphere is impossibly suffocating, ready to crack, and the contest over the affections of the reluctant Erhart brings the submerged conflict screaming on to the stage. John Gabriel Borkman is a work of cold poignancy etched with comedy, a portrait of men and women who have nothing left to lose.

This version, translated by David Eldridge, premiered in 2007 at the Donmar Warehouse, London.

The Lady from the Sea (trans. Eldridge)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Ibsen's lyrical and still startlingly modern masterpiece vibrantly explores the constrained social position of women. When the lighthouse keeper's daughter Ellida meets the widower Dr Wangel, she tries to put her long-lost first love far behind her and begin a new life as a wife and stepmother. But the tide is turning, an English ship is coming down the fjord, and the undercurrents threaten to drag a whole family beneath the surface in this passionate and sweeping drama. Ellida must choose between the solid and reliable values of the land and the fluid, mysterious and frightening attraction of the sea.

David Eldridge's translation is subtle, faithful and sensitive to Ibsen's language, and makes this classic play accessible to the English reader without compromising any of the original's intensely poetic and atmospheric tone. This version of The Lady from the Sea was first performed in 2010 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

The Master Builder (trans. Edgar)

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

David Edgar's version of Ibsen's 1892 play The Master Builder, based on a literal translation by Desireé Kongerød McDougall, is a compelling study of obsessive determination and the darker side of ambition. It was commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre and first performed at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, on 9 September 2010.

Halvard Solness, a leading local architect, is at the end of his career. A single-minded man of angry pride, trapped in a frozen marriage to Aline, he is terrified of being eclipsed by the younger generation snapping at his heels. A decade after their first meeting, the charismatic young Hilde Wangel comes back into his life and inspires him to even greater heights. But as he embarks on his latest towering achievement, the pressure threatens not to renew him, but to destroy him instead.

In his foreword to the published script, David Edgar notes that 'The most obvious change that I’ve made to The Master Builder is changing its shape from three acts to two. ... In my version... the interval comes not after Solness’s first conversation with Hilde (where Ibsen places his first act-change), nor at Hilde’s first entrance twenty minutes earlier (which a screenwriter would see as the end of the first act). It comes at the moment when Solness decides to tell Hilde everything, thus fully arming her for the rest of the play.'

Edgar also observes that, 'In The Master Builder, the big linguistic question is how you translate Hilde Wangel... . Some previous translations tend towards the argot of an Angela Brazil schoolgirl (‘terribly exciting’, ‘frightfully thrilling’), which feels quaint today. I have modified the Michael Meyer rule: there are no anachronisms, but I have allowed myself words and expressions which, while retaining their common meaning, have taken on a particular, contemporary youth-speak patina. So while I wouldn’t use ‘wicked’ (whose youth-use reverses its conventional meaning) or expressions like ‘Hallo?’ (as an emphatic rather than a salutation), I have used words like ‘brilliant’ and ‘magic’, and expressions like ‘I don’t think so’.'

The Chichester production was directed by Philip Franks and designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, with Michael Pennington as Halvard Solness, Maureen Beattie as Aline Solness, Pip Donaghy as Dr Herdal, John McEnery as Knut Brovik, Philip Cumbus as Ragnar Brovik, Emily Wachter as Kaja Fosli and Naomi Frederick as Hilde Wangel.

Pillars of the Community (trans. Adamson)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Calamity strikes when Bernick's business prowess and pristine reputation are threatened by the revelation of a long-buried secret. Desperate to dodge exposure in the kowtowing local community, Bernick devises a pitiless plan which, by a shocking twist of fate, risks the one life he holds dear.

This rarely performed thriller is set amid a society struggling against the rush of capitalism, the lure of America and the passionate beginnings of the fight for female emancipation.

Samuel Adamson version of Pillars of the Community premiered at the National Theatre, London, in October 2005.

The Wild Duck (trans. Eldridge)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Enthralling and unsettling, The Wild Duck is a play of keen psychology and absolute truth.

Gregers Werle, the son of a wealthy businessman, is an uncompromising idealist, and invites himself into the house of Hjalmar Ekdal, his childhood friend. His intention is to free the Ekdal family from the mesh of lies on which their contented lives are based: Gregers can see delusion, fantasy, and deep-seated deception surrounding Hjalmar, his father, his wife Gina, and his daughter Hedvig. But Gregers drowns the family even as he is trying to raise them up, his well-meaning investigations shredding the lies they have told themselves in order to live. The Wild Duck’s title is taken from the wounded bird which is nursed and kept in the attic by Hedvig, an acute symbol of resistance to reality which is the crux of this rich and piercing play.

The Wild Duck was published in 1884 and premiered in 1885 at Bergen in Norway. This version by David Eldridge opened in 2005 at the Donmar Warehouse, London.

Picture of Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a Norwegian dramatist and poet, who has often been called the father of modern drama. In his mature works Ibsen used naturalistic settings and dialogue to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of middle-class life. His work is valued for its technical mastery, penetrating psychological insight, and profound symbolism.

His first play, the romantic Catilina (1850), written under the pseudonym of Brynjolf Bjarme, was followed by several historical dramas in verse; these included The Burial Mound (1854) and The Feast of Solhoug (1856), inspired by Norwegian folk songs. His most impressive works were written after he left Norway. The verse tragedy Brand was published to considerable acclaim in 1866 while Peer Gynt (1867; first staged 1876), a portrait of the author as an undisciplined and unprincipled young man, established his international reputation.

In 1871 Ibsen began the play that he considered his greatest work, Emperor and Galilean (1876), a 10-act 'double drama' based on the life of Julian the Apostate. It has seldom been revived. The first of his four social plays, the works that represent the essence of Ibsenism, was Pillars of Society (1877). This was followed by A Doll's House (1879), which remains the most widely performed of his works, Ghosts (1881), which uses sexually transmitted disease as a symbol of the guilt of a corrupt society, and An Enemy of the People (1882). Hedda Gabler (1890) explores the isolation of the individual, while The Master Builder (1892) focuses on the psychology of the artist.