Hedda finds her voice in updated Ibsen
Christine Foster Meloni
Playwright Jon Klein is an enthusiastic admirer of Henrik Ibsen. He finds Ibsen’s plays timeless and very relevant today. He credits Ibsen with being the first playwright to give women complex psychological roles and being the best playwright at putting a plot together.
In his theater classes at Catholic University in Washington, Klein had used Ibsen’s well-known play Hedda Gabler as the best model to study because of its foolproof plot. But then he began hearing voices, or rather one very insistent voice.
He soon realized that it was Hedda’s voice and that she had a message for him: Rewrite Ibsen’s play and give my point of view! He immediately obeyed her command. He set to work and, while she stood over him, he rewrote it in a month’s time.
The result was his hilarious Resolving Hedda, which has had runs in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. In both venues the revues were universally stellar.
Before Klein’s play begins, Hedda the character speaks to the audience and explains how sick and tired she is of having to kill herself at the end of every performance, time and time again. This time, she vows, she will change the course of the action. She will live!
By bringing the members of the audience into the scene at the beginning and continuing to interact with them throughout, she makes the play work. Kelly Karcher, the actress who played Hedda in the Washington production, finds this continuous use of the aside very effective. She reflects on how popular it was in Elizabethan times, particularly in Shakespeare’s plays, and would like to see this dramatic device used more often in contemporary theater.
As the play progresses, Hedda becomes more and more angry with Ibsen as she continues to be frustrated at every turn in this play, unable to thwart the flow of his foolproof plot. Oh, how she hates him for it! But what happens in the end?
No spoilers here! But for anyone interested in following Hedda’s struggle and learning the final outcome, the paperback book can be purchased on amazon.com. If possible, though, see it on the stage!
Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.
This article originally appeared in the May 3, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.