English Department to present staged reading of ‘Hedda Gabler’

Members of Yale’s English Department will present a staged reading of “Hedda Gabler,” Henrik Ibsen’s tale of boredom, ambition, and manipulation,on Monday, Nov. 12.

Hedda Gabler is a “bored, middle-class housewife” with “ideas of grandeur,” says Murray Biggs, who is directing the staged reading.

The play, which has been trimmed down for this presentation, will take place 5:15–6:30 p.m. in Rm. 101, Linsley-Chittendent Hall, 63 High St. The event is free and open to the public.

Every year but one since 1996, Yale’s English Department has offered a rehearsed, publicly staged reading by faculty and graduate students — usually of a lesser-known British play.

“Starting last year, the department decided to integrate the choice of play with its curriculum, specifically that of its main drama course, English 129, ‘Tragedy,’” explains the play’s director, Murray Biggs, associate professor (adjunct) of theater studies and English.

“This year’s selection, Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’ of 1890, ignites the question what makes a modern tragic protagonist who is not, as in tradition, a royal or aristocratic personage,” says Biggs. “Hedda is a bored middle-class housewife in a 19th-century Norwegian provincial town. Yet she has ideas of grandeur fitting many of her tragic predecessors. … Ibsen explores his central figure from within, revealing a subtle psychological understanding of motive and behavior that helps to mark him as the first truly modern Western dramatist.”

The readers will be Professors Roberta Frank, Margaret Homans, Justin Neuman and Joseph Roach, joined by graduate students Merve Emre (as Hedda), Ross Macdonald, and William Weber.

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