The other night I went to check out a play at Stockholms Stadsteater. It is right smack dab in the middle of town in Kulturhuset by Sergelstorg. And it considers me a youth still because I am under 25. So a ticket only ran me 100 SEK. Sweden definitely has its benefits.
Anyway, I chose Hedda Gabler for a couple of reasons. Most of them can be blamed on one of my professors from Oregon who introduced me to, your favorite and mine, Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright. Henrik wrote quite a few plays, but the one that grabbed my attention a couple of years ago was Peer Gynt. A glorious tale really. This interest in Ibsen was unknowingly egged on by a second professor at Oregon. Damn that higher education.
But since then I have had in interest in the gruff looking old man. I have bought a few English translations of his plays. One of which sat on my book shelf for quite a while. But I managed to read a bit of his work even as it sat on my shelf. One reason being that I had a girlfriend back in the good old US of A who had Hedda Gabler on her shelf. And I read in the bathroom. And well, sometimes I needed to go. But for various reasons, I never did finish Hedda Gabler. Which may have been for the better. Because I had developed a strong dislike for the girl. Hedda Gabler. Not the old girlfriend.
Anyway, about a month ago I plucked down Ibsen and stated reading the translated plays I had. There were four in the book. And Hedda Gabler happened to be there. I read the play. And while I continued to despise Hedda Gabler as a character I did quite enjoy the play. Which, in my opinion, says a whole hell of a lot about Ibsen as a writer. Because if I can garner such strong feelings of dislike for the title character of a play and still enjoy reading the play. Well, Ibsen did his job.
Anyway, about a week ago I was paging through the fall schedule of plays at Stockholms Stadsteater and saw the Ms. Gabler would be playing. So I snagged a ticket. For 100 SEK. Remember? The benefits of so much money being plugged into cultural events.
The play was really quite good. I continued to dislike Hedda as a character. I mean a lot. But the live performance of the play was excellent. It was a simple set-up. In fact, there was just a long two-sided couch that they rotated to demonstrate different settings. There were only five people in the entire play. Not a single extra to be seen anywhere. No boy in crowd, or maid in background or anything like that. Very barebones. Kind of Scandinavian in its simplicity really. And it worked. Well.
The play presented the surrounding characters in very different ways than how I had read them. This being the first time I had ever read a play and then just a few weeks later seen it performed live, it was an interesting realization. Everyone can experience a work of literature in very different ways.
Just as long as no one differs in their dislike for Ms. Gabler.
Welcome to Sweden.