An African Hedda with machine guns in hand.
If you are about to stage Hedda Gabler it is just like with Hamlet: you need an actor who can really play Hamlet. The same goes with Hedda. And since I felt that the actress Lucrecia Paco at the theater in Maputo was ready for Hedda, I read the play again and thought: How can I do this play in a way that will interest an African audience in 2012?
I dwelled on one detail: Hedda is the daughter of a dead general. And I realized that this was the key point. If I move the setting of the play from the late 1800’s to the years around 1975, when Mozambique defeated the Portuguese colonizers, and we imagine that Hedda’s father, the general, is a dead freedom fighter, then I saw how Ibsen’s play could be done. I asked one simple question for Hedda:
– To free a country is one thing. But who will set me free? A woman?
This was the very basis for the version we now present in Skien. Although dueling pistols are gone and replaced with weapons used in war, it is Ibsen’s text we play.
After the opening night in March this year in Maputo I asked a couple of spectators when they thought the play was written. They were obviously surprised when I gave the answer: the late 1800’s. One of them thought for a moment. Then he said: – An impressive writer, this Mr. Ibsen, who could see this far into the future.
He might actually be right!