By Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Leah Turley
Audition dates: February 4 at 1pm, February 5 at 2pm
Just in time for Women’s History Month, Ibsen’s dark and convoluted drama showcases one of the most iconic female characters of the 19th century.
Hedda is, at first glance, a bored aristocrat whose marriage of convenience is rapidly losing all interest. However, her ennui covers a deep and irresistible craving for life outside the constraints placed on a 19th century woman of good breeding. In short space of time Hedda’s mundane life morphs into one of erratic jealousy and tragic choices. Her husband’s, George, up and coming professorship in academia promises to secure a solid future for both of them, when Hedda is visted by old friends who are happy to share news she has missed during her honeymoon.
Thea Elvsted, Hedda’s old schoolmate, tells her of Eilert Loevborg (an intimate friend of Hedda’s from the past) who has reformed his alcoholism and is preparing to publish a ground breaking manuscript in the same field as George. Thea and Loevborg have developed a close working relationship, and it becomes apparent that Thea has left her husband, awaking Hedda’s jealousy.
Meanwhile, George learns from Judge Brack that his confirmed professorship has a potential rival in Loevborg instead. Hedda and George now face financial hardship without an assured income. When Loevborg visits the house to greet the newlyweds he confides that he will not seek the professorship, and states that his new manuscript, written with the assistance of Thea, is his sole focus. Hedda’s bitterness gets the best of her and she manipulates Loevborg into drinking and attending a stag party with George and Judge Brack’s that evening.
The next morning George returns home in possession of Loevborg’s manuscript, which he dropped while drunk. Hedda asks to read it before it is returned to Loevborg. Distraught, later in the day Loevborg arrives and fears his life is over. Despite knowing the whereabouts of his masterpiece, Hedda convinces him to commit suicide and gives him a one of her father’s pistols, with the expectation that he will die beautifully. Hedda burns the manuscript, in effect burning Loevborg and Thea’s symbolic child of the mind, at the same time revealing her own pregnancy to George.
That evening, Judge Brack arrives with news that Loevborg has committed suicide. George, in remorse, decides to work with Thea to reconstruct the manuscript using Thea’s notes. Privately, Hedda takes a moment to relish Loevborg’s “beautiful” death, but is disabused by Brack’s admission that it was probably a drunken accident in a brothel. He also recognized the gun, and makes a smarmy proposition in return for keeping her name out of the newspapers.
Hedda; trapped by her own manipulations, and left with scandal or sexual blackmail as her only alternatives, plays a final tune on her piano before shooting herself.