Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ibsen's Women - The Discussion

Red Tape Theatre's panel, Ibsen's Women, was presented on Sunday, May 10, alongside our
gender-swapped adaptation of Enemy of the People.

Prof. Jacob Juntunen (UIC Dept of Theatre), began with Nora from A Doll's House, who abandons her husband and children. The revolutionary aspect of this may be lost in a time of 50% divorce rates but Nora's action was unthinkable at the time and caused fierce debate among the audiences.

Mr. Robert Scogin (Artistic Director, Shaw Chicago) compared Ghosts to a Greek Tragedy, citing Mrs. Alving as a modern Clytemnestra who kills her husband with her moralizing only to be punished by her children. Mrs. Alving's resignation to stay with her husband despite their incompatibility has also branded her as "Nora grown up."

Prof. Julie Ward (Loyola Dept of Philosophy) commented that this made Hedda Gabler into "Nora on steroids." Unhappy with her timid husband, but unwilling to submit to her immoral admirers she sabotages their lives then ends the life of life of herself and her unborn child with her fathers pistol.

Mr. Scogin argued that in Ibsen's time evil springs from boredom as society leaves his women with nothing to do. Prof. Ward countered with the heavy responsibilities Nora takes by running the finances of her household. Mr. Scogin agreed, but added that society left Nora no legal way to do so, forcing her into forgery. Ibsen's plays critique aspects of a society that does not allow one to make a moral choice.

When asked if these women are still relevant, Prof. Juntunen answered that the plays present
women who actively reject their socially prescribed roles. The plays still has the power to make husbands and wives very afraid.

Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Our next panel, Green Night of Theatre, will be Sunday, May 24.
Tickets are available through our website!

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

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