Ibsen play brought back to life
Zombies. When a play is called When We Dead Awaken there is some excuse for thinking the ‘‘Z’’ word. And metaphorically that could be thematic.
When We Dead Awaken is the title of the last play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Written in 1899, it is not often performed, and a touring theatre group is offering local audiences a rare chance to take it in.
Palmerston North expat Catriona Tipene and her Wellington Theatre group, Walking Shadows, is bringing the play to The Dark Room for two performances this weekend.
Reading old translations of the play, Tipene and director Iris Henderson discovered the heart of what they describe as an engaging, dramatic and at times hilarious work. Involving an artist and his muse, a bear hunter and a seductive wife, it’s a quirky and haunting piece about freedom, purpose, and what it means to be alive.
The production using the group’s own translation was critically acclaimed during its premiere season at the 2016 Fringe Festival.
‘‘It was hailed as ‘a design and acting tour de force’, and one of the leads was described as performing ‘a miracle’ [Theatreview],’’ Tipene said.
When the play was first performed in 1900 though, critics hated it - ’’Audiences would rather see interesting life than awoken dead’’, proclaimed one.
By all accounts, the Walking Shadows production has quite literally infused Ibsen’s 117-year-old play with new life.
Tipene was back here earlier this year as a member of all-female company The Lord Lackbeards, performing a 400th anniversary Shakespeare tribute with Hamlet (which also appeared at the PopUp Globe) alongside Jean Betts’ Ophelia Thinks Harder in The Dark Room .
On the way to complete a North Island tour with a return season at Wellington’s Bats, the hour-long When We Dead Awaken plays The Dark Room, Saturday, August 20 at 7pm, and Sunday, August 21 at 2pm and 7pm.
Catriona Tipene in a new and acclaimed translation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, ‘‘When We Dead Awaken’’.