'Hedda Gabler' plays at Washington Hall
By AMBER AGUIAR
Hedda Gabler spins a web of manipulation and deceit, trapping those around her like helpless flies. Drawn by her good looks and manipulative ways, the cast of characters surrounding Hedda quickly fall victim to her dangerous games.
In Notre Dame's theatre production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, senior Louise Edwards plays the independent and unpredictable young woman from the turn of the century. Hedda is a surprisingly strong woman for her time. She has a passion for life and regrets the confines of her recent marriage to Jorgen Tesman, a meek academic played by senior Sean Dwyer, who is no match for Hedda's biting wit.
Her life would seem to be panning out perfectly. Hedda resides in her dream home with her maid and husband, as he waits to receive a prestigious university appointment that will allow the couple to live very comfortably. Yet Hedda's unbridled nature keeps her from enjoying this quiet life. She is a fiery redhead with a passion for pistols, who finds amusement only in mischievously toying with those around her.
As the play begins, the couple receives a series of visitors to its new home who soon become Hedda's unsuspecting play-things. Throughout the production, she continues to weave that web of deceit until she and all of the characters are trapped.
"We tried to capture the web-like aspect of Hedda's world," said director Siiri Scott of the set. "The interior of her home is made of bars, not real, solid walls. We wanted to show that if she had to, she could break through, but she doesn't think she can."
While this is the fourth student production Scott has directed, it is the first time she has strayed from the original intent of the playwright.
"The play is very verbal, so we tried to give it additional aspects of beauty," she said. The set is decorated with an eclectic collection of art borrowed from the Snite Museum, and there is careful consideration given to the soft, classical music of the play's intermissions. Scott sought to personalize the production through its costumes as well.
"Hedda's costumes are always such a contrast because we want her to stand out in every scene," said Scott. "She is the spider of her web, and she has to attract people."
In the play's opening scene, Hedda wears an emerald green, Oriental silk robe over white silk pajamas. It is a sharp, vibrant contrast to the more muted, everyday turn of the century garb worn by the other characters. This was a deliberate contrast developed by Rick Donnelly, the costume designer for "Hedda Gabler."
"Ibsen wrote the play to be set in the late 1800s. But we altered it to be set in 1912, right before World War I, because it was a time when fashion was becoming more casual," said Donnelly. "We wanted Hedda to be able to lounge rather than be confined by fashion that would be more strict. It was more fitting with her character."
The play's actors wear fashions from collections of 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers Studios. "Seventy-five percent of the costumes are authentic vintage garments used in the film `Titanic.' The costumes capture the essence of the time period, chosen from the fashions of 1912 to fit each individual character," said Donnelly.
The cast of Hedda Gabler is "a diverse group of kids, who are not necessarily theatre majors," said Scott.
"It is a wonderful cast, all very serious about their parts," said actress Lisa Fabrega, a Notre Dame junior. "Everyone really cares about their characters, and they try to take those characters further and further."
Students like senior John Sample, a science, physics and math major, plays Eliert Lovborg, a recovering alcoholic whom Hedda entices into drinking again. He and other members of the cast bring unique perspectives to the characters they portray.
"They accuse me of trying to make it `The Eliert Lovborg Show.' But it's just that I love my character," said Sample. "I think he's a passionate, screwed up character who lives life on the brink. And looking at him we can see that maybe living on the brink is not the best way. He's got something to teach someone like me, or anyone at Notre Dame who's ever lost control with alcohol."
All Scene Stories for Thursday, October 7, 1999