Bowdoin shines spotlight on Henrik Ibsen

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BRUNSWICK – Henrik Ibsen is widely regarded as the father of modern drama. One hundred years after the Scandinavian playwright’s death, the Bowdoin College department of theater and Dance has put together “Celebrating Ibsen in Classical to Contemporary Performance,” a series of events scheduled for February and March.

The series will feature film, theater, dance-theater and puppet-theater, a mix that ” provides personal and historical context for Ibsen’s work, as well as numerous interpretations of the work itself, said Sonja Moser, department chair and lecturer in theater.

• The celebration begins Thursday and Friday, Feb. 1 and 2, with Wakka Wakka Productions’ performance of “The Death of Little Ibsen” – a daring new interpretation of Ibsen’s life performed by puppets – at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall, Wish Theater.

Admission is free; no tickets necessary. Seating is limited.

• The 1917 silent film “Terje Vigen,” directed by Victor Sjöström, will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium.

This adaptation of Ibsen’s poem recounts the story of a fisherman who is captured and released during the Napoleonic Wars, then faces family tragedy and an unexpected reunion. The film is 56 minutes in length, and is shown with English intertitles. Admission is free.

• Tancred Ibsen, considered the director who modernized Norwegian film, adapted one of his grandfather Henrik’s greatest plays in the 1963 screen version of “Vildanden” (“The Wild Duck”). The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium.

The film explores the world of a family whose peaceful existence is fragmented and destroyed in the name of “truth.” With its ironic shifting of illusion and reality and its impassioned cry for personal freedom, “The Wild Duck” remains as disturbing and challenging as ever.

The 105 minute film will be shown in Norwegian with English subtitles. Admission is free.

• The powerful drama “An Enemy of the People” is one of Ibsen’s most frequently performed plays. A pair of interpretations will be presented in March. The departmental spring theater show, “An Enemy of the People,” directed by Associate Professor of Theater Davis Robinson, will be performed Thursday through Saturday, March 1 to 3, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall, Wish Theater.

The play is a devastating tragedy that explores the conflict between a community’s need for growth and fiscal security, and one man’s attempt to reveal the terrible lie upon which it is based. Long before Love Canal, Ibsen saw what can happen when commerce is allowed to trump the common good, and indignation only makes matters worse.

Admission is free, and no tickets are necessary. Seating is limited.

The 2005 film “En folkefiende” (“An Enemy of the People”), directed by Erik Skjoldbaerg, will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium.

In this present-day adaptation of Ibsen’s play, the characters have different jobs, but the basic plot remains the same. A television celebrity returns to the village where he grew up, intending to produce the world’s purest bottled water in partnership with his brother. Ethical dilemmas arise when tests reveal traces of a banned pesticide in the water.

The 90 minute film will be shown in Norwegian with English subtitles. Admission is free.

• The finale of the spring Ibsen celebration will be a performance of “Die Eigentümlichkeit, der Exhibitionismus und die Damen von Welt” Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, in Memorial Hall, Wish Theater.

“We are especially pleased to be culminating our series with ‘Die Damen von Welt,’ a piece that travels to us from Stockholm,” said Moser. “This snapshot of contemporary Scandinavian performance stimulates the question: How will performance evolve over the next 100 years?”

German performer and teacher Susanne Martin and her Swedish dance partner Bronja Novak have been touring “Die Damen von Welt” since 2005. Martin and Novak call their performance a physical installation, combining choreography, theater, improvisation, and the art of the proper audience warm-up.

Admission is free; no tickets are necessary. Seating is limited.

For more information about “Celebrating Ibsen in Classical to Contemporary Performance” visit http://academic.bowdoin.edu/theaterdance/; or, call (207) 725-3663.

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