“Hedda Gabler” is the first CalArts School of Theater MFA production of the school year, running Nov. 2-10 in Ensemble Room II, E407 on the CalArts campus in Valencia.
Sometimes referred to as the female “Hamlet,” Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” is one of the great roles of modern drama: “No matter how many times we encounter her, how many new angles we view her from, Hedda remains strangely inscrutable, her essence as elusive as the murky depths of our own tangled psyches” (The New York Times).
The play begins as Hedda and her husband Tesman return from their honeymoon, and their marriage is already beginning to disintegrate. Subjected by her quiet life as the wife of an academic, Hedda manipulates everyone around her in an attempt to exercise her own agency, enacting total poetic annihilation. Hedda Gabler embodies a modern-day Shiva as she walks the razor’s edge between sex and violence, birth and death, creation and destruction.
Director Jesse Bonnell (MFA2 Directing) leads an all-CalArts cast and crew, staring Ryan Perez Adame, Sivan Ambrose, Alex Barlas, Maya BratTkus, James Majewski, and Amelia Kennedy.
The creative team includes scenic designer Ben Wilson (assisted by Jinyong Sung), costume designer Nan Zhou (assisted by Jac Langheim and Shuhui Zhao), lighting designer Bri Patillo (assisted by Leslie Crapster-Pregont), sound designer Gahyae Ryu (assisted by Elliot Yokum), technical director Kevin Brown (assisted by Mason Axelson), scenic artist Ritika Ramesh (assisted by Janhavi Naik, Travis Moelter and Ellody Wu), production stage manager Jordan Moore (assisted by Jennifer Dupre), and production manager Irina Krutous (assisted by Yue Wang).
Henrik Ibsen was a 19th-century Norwegian playwright who is famously known as the “Father of Modern Drama.” He forged a new style of drama, creating a realistic “thinking” theatre, in opposition to the popular entertainment seen on stages of that time.
He is best known for his naturalistic dialogue and well-constructed plots, which feature characters that are relatable and recognizable. His best-known works include “Hedda Gabler,” “A Doll’s House,” “Peer Gynt” and “Ghosts.”
Jesse Bonnell is an artist based in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. His original work has been shown at REDCAT, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, RADAR L.A., South Coast Repertory, The Getty Villa, EMPAC, The Collapsible Hole, Baruch Performing Arts Center, CATCH! Series, and The Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) at UCLA.
Internationally, his work has toured Eastern Europe, performed in Croatia, Poland, and Serbia, and was presented at the 2009 Grotowski Festival. Bonnell has received major support from the Theater Communications Group (TCG), Foundation for Contemporary Art, United States Embassy Belgrade, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Center for Cultural Innovation, The Ahmanson Foundation, LADCA Cultural Exchange International Grant, The Dutch Cultural Consulate, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, and Creative Capital Performing Arts Award.
He has been awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship and artistic development residencies at REDCAT, Rotterdamse Schouwburg, UCLA Department of World Cultures, CalArts, Yaddo, Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
From 2018-2019, he was an Artist in Residence at CAP UCLA, which commissioned and presented Group Therapy. He is a co-founding member of Poor Dog Group, a theater collective based in Los Angeles. He is currently an MFA Candidate in Directing at California Institute of the Arts.
Performances of “Hedda Gabler” will take place Friday, Nov. 2 through Saturday, Nov. 10 with a preview on Thursday, Nov. 1. Ticket prices are $2 for students and $10 for community members.
California Institute of the Arts is located at 24700 McBean Pkwy., Valencia 91355.