This summer we found out that one of our own, Tracy Bee from the Themester office in The College of Arts & Sciences, is a Hedda fan. A serious Hedda fan. And we rejoiced.
Why are you excited about Hedda Gabler?
I’ve only read the play as it’s not something that’s tackled often and more rarely at the college level. It’s a demanding role. The last big New York production was with Mary-Louse Parker. I wish that I’d seen it. Hedda is up there with Medea, Cleopatra, and Maggie the Cat as one of the meatiest dramatic roles for a woman.
Why is it a demanding role?
She’s an anti-heroine. She’s complicated; she’s cruel. But, she’s also heartbreaking. Hedda requires finesse to make her sympathetic and could be played many different ways. I’m looking forward to seeing how IU Theatre tackles the character.
Does the title character have any modern counterparts?
A modern-day Hedda of the same class, culture, and stature wouldn’t be Hedda. For one thing, she wouldn’t need to be destructive to make an impact – at least not in the same way. She would have some other outlet. The play isn’t part of Themester 2015’s focus on work as it doesn’t explicitly focus on labor, but economics have their part in Hedda’s downfall. Hedda is brilliant and bold and thwarted. I don’t know the slant on this production, but if we see our labor as an integral part of identity and a path toward self-actualization, then it’s easier to understand Hedda’s motivation. She’s not interested in the limited path that is available to her. A woman of her class and time doesn’t work. She’s a woman of leisure, perhaps a helpmate to her husband, certainly a womb. She fights against this limited role.
Hedda’s lack of autonomy makes her explosive. Today, this same person might be a CEO or a politician. She’d be a Marissa Mayer and, then of course, people would second-guess her business choices and child-care choices.
Without giving anything away, what’s Hedda’s tragedy?
I think that’s up to interpretation, but in my mind, she wants to make some sort of mark on the world and doesn’t see many options. Her life is limited, but she could have probably used her talents and intelligence to carve a more positive and influential role. We see this happen with her friend Thea. The tragedy of Hedda Gabler — and it’s true for both Hedda and at least one other major character — is the tragedy of wasted potential.
HEDDA GABLER comes to the Ruth N. Halls stage September 25th and runs through October 3rd, with shows at 7:30pm and a 2pm matinee on the last Saturday.
Tickets are available online or from our friends at the IU Auditorium Box Office, 1211 E. 7th St, open 10am to 5pm.