Ibsen Theatre

Directing Ibsen's Little Eyolf

Directing Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf was a challenge. It challenged my textual analysis ability. It challenged my conceptual aptitude. It challenged my communicative resources with designers and actors. It challenged my ability to entertain and challenge an audience. 

I was quite pleased with the end product. Though it was not a definitive production, I believe that we achieved our best effort at this point in time. Based on the audience's reception, including the review, the production was a success. 

The Hornby and Ball approaches to textual analysis helped me to achieve a satisfactory interpretation of the text. Viewing the text as perfect forced me to constantly ask questions about each moment, and searching for the causes helped me to strengthen the answers. The methods also aided the development of the design. Both will certainly be utilized in the future, as a production and teaching resource. In addition, I was happy with our discoveries of the humor in the text and our ability to convey it. If I were asked to direct Little Eyolf again, there would be very few changes in the analysis of the text. However, I would change my approach to several moments in the text. I am not convinced that the seduction scene ever achieved the desired affect. The idea that Asta, Allmers, and Rita scared themselves as well as each other never rang true. 

Using the Munch painting and the Action Design articles as a conceptual base worked well. It challenged the designers and myself to find new ways of utilizing the theatre environment, and it challenged the audience to see an Ibsen play in something other than a realistic light. 

I was pleased with the lighting and the sound designs. I wish we had had a longer tech week in order to tighten cues and adjust levels instead of having to adjust them during the production run. 

The idea of the set design was fitting. The overall effect of the stage and theatre space reinforced the text. For my "next time," the ideas of "in limbo" and "circular" would be taken farther. Having the lowest section of the audience higher than the lowest section of the stage did not suggest a stage "in limbo" as well as I would have liked. In addition, the large number of straight edges on the set detracted from the circular movement. I also believe that an arena configuration would have better served our purpose. 

The costumes were beautiful. I was exceptionally pleased with each design. "Next time," I would attempt to find more ways to use the costumes on stage, instead of merely modeling them. 

My work with the actors was the most rewarding and the most difficult of the overall process. I was pleased with the growth, both as actor and character, of each cast member. I believe the rehearsal strategies, my behavior, and Backwards and Forwards helped the actors explore and understand the text, which in turn helped the actors to invest themselves into the text. I would have preferred to spend more time on the interpretation of the text; I often found myself teaching acting, using Little Eyolf, than directing Little Eyolf. However, the teaching experience was educational in my development as one who talks to actors. It enabled me to continue finding more effective ways of communicating action to the actor. 

The audience appeared to have been challenged with the drama and the production. I attended all four performances and paid close attention to audience response. Many effects garnered the desired affect which was my "success gauge." There were very few audience reactions that I did not intend. 

In conclusion, I am glad to have had the opportunity to bring to the stage a drama that has been missing from the theatre boards. It gave me the opportunity to test my developing theatrical philosophy on an audience. It enabled me to further my analytic and communication skills. And, like some who saw the production, it taught me a valuable lesson about the master Norwegian playwright as well as about the history of the drama - just because it's "old" does not mean it has no merit. 

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