"Hedda Gabler" Relevant to Life Today

SC Theatre’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” will be performed Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. in the Helen Graham Little Theatre in the lower level of the Christy Administration Building on the Southwestern College campus.  For ticket information, call the SC theatre box office at (620) 229-6272 or (620) 221-7720.

Michelle Boucher, Southwestern College associate professor of English sees in “Hedda Gabler” a lot of solid truth that is relevant to today’s audience.

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“I have always found Ibsen to be compelling,” Boucher says. “He actually proposed that perhaps it was okay for people to want to think about their own happiness and what they want to do. And that wasn’t so unusual for a man, but it was extraordinarily unusual for a woman. And yet, in both ‘A Doll’s House’ and ‘Hedda Gabler,’ we see women who don’t have the freedom to make their own choices.”

Boucher is assistant director of “Hedda Gabler” with Roger Moon as senior director.

“Roger and I were talking last semester, and I told him I’d really enjoy directing at some point, particularly a reader’s theater, and he suggested I be assistant director for ‘Hedda Gabler’ and I agreed,” Boucher says.

Ibsen’s ideas of equal life choices for both sexes sparked heated debate when it debuted, and those ideas are still discussed today.

“The judge at one point asks Hedda ‘Couldn’t you find a vocation of your own’ and Hedda laughs, because at that time, that was a ridiculous notion, that a woman could have a vocation. The vocation they expect her to have is being a mother,” Boucher explains. “And yet Ibsen says ‘Why should women be treated differently than men in this regard? Why cannot any person make their own choices and decide who they want to hurt and who they want to be with?’”

Boucher has much invested in this show. In addition to assistant directing, she is also reading the stage directions.

“It’s been interesting to decide which ones are critical and which ones are not,” Boucher says concerning the stage directions. “There are scenes where, without awareness of what is happening, the language does not make sense, and so those stage directions don’t seem odd. I’ve been in groups where we read plays out loud, so hearing the stage directions read isn’t as strange to me as it might be for other people.”

“I think the audience will enjoy ‘Hedda Gabler,’ Boucher says.  “It’s has funny moments, it’s surprising. It doesn’t end the way people think it might. The students have really brought these characters to life. Of course, because I am an English professor, I always think that good drama is good for you. And even though this is a play from the late 1800s it certainly has issues that resonate for us today.”


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