Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler Updated: Theater for the New City 9/29 – 10/8


Hedda (Natalie Menna) prepares to incinerate Eilert Lovborg’s manuscript in a fireplace.
Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Robert Greer updates Ibsen’s classic to 1981, the edge of the digital age.
Director/translator Robert Greer is setting Ibsen’s masterpiece in 1981 Norway, re-imagining the academic rivalry between George Tesman and Eilert Lovborg and re-conceiving the character of Hedda as a 1980’s socialite. In Greer’s approach, the play is less a demonstration of the 19th century notion of the “new woman” and more a lesson on the destructiveness of professional competition. Essential elements are totally preserved while the dialogue is updated to modern parlance to support the modernity of Ibsen’s themes.

In Ibsen’s 1891 play, George Tesman is pitching himself for a professorship in the field of History of Science & Technology on the merits of his massive volume, “Brabant: Medieval Technologies and their Socio-economic Implications.” In Greer’s adaptation, Tesman’s work retains this dusty focus. However, his perennial academic rival, Eilert Lovborg, is about to come out with a much snazzier tome, predicting from contemporary scientific developments that personal computers will soon be found beside each fireplace and a network will imminently span the globe. Tesman and Lovborg are competing for the same professorial chair.

Tesman is living above his means: his young wife, Hedda, daughter of a general, is dangerously bored. She wants luxury but has no funds of her own. Meddlesome by nature, she has found herself with an odd psychic power over both Lovborg and his platonic helpmate, Thea. So Hedda is primed to eliminate her husband’s rival and ensure Tesman’s professorship, thus securing her own financial security. She manipulates Lovborg into a relapse of his alcoholism, during which he loses his paper’s typescript. It falls into her clutches and she burns it in her fireplace. These follies draw her inevitably to her end, as she lands in the power of the cynical and libidinous Judge Brack.

Natalie Menna as Hedda
Bailey Newman as Thea
John Cencio Burgos as Tesman
Mike Roche as Judge Brack
Brad Fryman as Lovborg

Stage Manager Jose F. Ruiz.
Set design by Lytza Colon.
Lighting design by Alexander Bartrenieff.
Costume design by Billy Little.

August Strindberg Repertory Theatre, under the direction of Robert Greer, is committed to productions of Nordic plays in new translations and interpretations that illuminate the works for today’s American audience. That is why Theater for the New City has taken this superb repertory into its family.

Theater for the New City
155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)
Thur through Sat at 8:00 PM,
matinees Sat 2:00 PM & Sun 3:00 PM
Buy Tickets: $18 general admission, $15 seniors & students