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16 NOV

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The seventh edition of the “New Vision Arts Festival” has been concluded with enthusiastic response. Thank you very much for your kind support!

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Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler

Director:  Adrian Noble
Co-producer: Sean Curran*
Translation: Rupert Chan
Cast: Bonni Chan*, Tang Shu-wing#, Chan Wing-chuen^, Tommy Chu, Ivy Pang, Amy Chum, Mandy Yiu
Lighting Design: John A. Williams+
Composition & Sound Design: Vincent Pang
Costume Design: Mandy Tam
Set Design: Lee Yun Soo (Korea)
Produced by: New Vision Arts Festival

* With the kind permission of Theatre du Pif
# With the kind permission of Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio
^ With the kind permission of Art Peak Theatre Works Ltd.

+ With kind permission of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Based on the English version by Michael Meyer

Eminent British director Adrian Noble teams up with top Hong Kong theatrical talents in a refreshing rendition of Ibsen’s psycho-social classic about a woman trapped by convention 

What does a woman really want? To be wooed? To live in luxury? Or simply a game to pass her time?

In 19th-century playwright Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the main character Nora Helmer bravely leaves her family. Here, the Norwegian “father of modern drama” adds to his complex female protagonists with a story revolving around the gracious, clever and ambitious Hedda Gabler. Hedda is a well-off general’s daughter, marries a rising but dull academic. Bored by the end of their honeymoon, the newlywed is made more discontented when she discovers her former writer lover is in another relationship and has managed to complete a masterpiece. Riven by jealousy, Hedda’s troubled mind gradually drives herself and others towards disaster.

Challenging and compelling, Hedda Gabler has been frequently staged in Europe and the US since its premiere in 1891. In this pioneering New Vision Arts Festival-produced performance, Adrian Noble, former Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company, provides a thrilling new interpretation with leading artists from Hong Kong. Together, they traverse personal fulfilment, social convention, and how a seemingly ideal life is transformed into tragedy.


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre 6-7.11 (Thu - Fri) 8pm
  • $420
  • $360*

*Some seats have restricted view
8-9.11 (Sat - Sun) 3pm, 8pm
map     Seating Plan

Friendly Reminder

  • Approx 3 hours with an intermission of 15 minutes
  • In Cantonese with English surtitles
  • Audience members are strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers will be admitted after Act I.
  • Some seats with restricted view to surtitles
  • Talk, sharing session and pre-performance appreciation talk are available

Image: terrenzchang@atVis
Photography: cheungchiwai 


Talk Sharing Session Appreciation Talk

Talk

In Conversation with Adrian Noble

British theatre director Adrian Noble, who was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company for 13 years, has been lauded by the New York Times as “one of the most consistently imaginative of directors”. His productions of the Bard are noted for their lyrical vision and spectacular stage design.


In this conversation with Co-producer of Hedda Gabler Sean Curran, Adrian will trace his long theatrical career and talk about his latest work Hedda Gabler. A rare chance not to be missed.

Speaker: Adrian Noble (Director of Hedda Gabler)
Moderator: Sean Curran (Theatre du Pif’s Co-Artistic Director and Co-producer of Hedda Gabler)

Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre 27.10 (Mon) 8pm
Free Admission
map    

Friendly Reminder

  • In English
  • Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis
 
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Sharing Session

Inside the World of Hedda Gabler

How do a cast and crew from Hong Kong interpret the nuances of a play set in late 19th-century Oslo? Hear what the performers and production team of Hedda Gabler have to say about rehearsing and staging Ibsen’s classic play, and the insights provided by director Adrian Noble.

Speakers: Sean Curran, Rupert Chan, Bonni Chan,Tang Shu-wing, Ivy Pang (Actors and Production Team of Hedda Gabler)

Administration Building Level 4 AC1, Hong Kong Cultural Centre 13.11 (Thu) 8pm
Free Admission
map    

Friendly Reminder

  • In Cantonese and English
  • Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis
 
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Appreciation Talk

Pre-performance Appreciation Talk: Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler is often regarded as a dream role for an actress. Find out why in this pre-show talk by theatre scholar Gilbert Fong, who analyses how the character’s psychological complexities are revealed in Ibsen’s masterpiece.

Speaker: Gilbert Fong

Level 4 Foyer, Hong Kong Cultural Centre 9.11 (Sun) 7:30pm
Free Admission
map    

Friendly Reminder

  • In Cantonese
  • Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis

Organised by the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong)

 
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Extension Reading

Adrian Noble - the Master British Director of Henrik Ibsen

By Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf
London theatre critic of The International New York Times.

At the age of 64, the British director Adrian Noble is nothing if not eclectic in his choice of projects. As of a midsummer interview in London, the former director of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company is preparing to stage English singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s first concert tour in 35 years, following which he heads to New York’s Metropolitan Opera to put the legendary Anna Netrebko into his staging of Verdi’s Macbeth, scheduled for seven performances from late-September into October.

Back in his native Britain, he is opening a new production of Edward Albee’s biting classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Theatre Royal, Bath, one of the country’s most important regional theatres. And as if that weren’t enough, he is readying his first-ever Hong Kong production, to run from November 6 to 9, as part of the New Vision Arts Festival. His given play is in fact a text he first directed in March 2010, at the very same venue in Bath: Ibsen’s 1890 masterwork Hedda Gabler, about a restless and selfdramatising general’s daughter whose distress brings events to a drastic (and violent) finish.

That Noble is working on this play and this playwright in Hong Kong, collaborating with local artists like Tang Shu-wing and Bonni Chan, is meaningful for all sorts of reasons. For one, the venture furthers an atmosphere of cultural cross-fertilisation already evidenced when Tang Shu-wing brought his ensemble to Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2012 with a Cantonese-language production of Titus Andronicus. Noble, in turn, gets to work with Hong Kong performers in a language he doesn’t speak on the work of a Scandinavian playwright whom he knows via English-language translations, usually by Noble’s translator of choice, Michael Meyer. Think of this as the globalisation of culture writ large, multiple minds and numerous nationalities converging in the service of a great play.

In fact, Noble’s relationship with Ibsen is as profound as any of his distinguished career – with the self-evident exception of Shakespeare, who will always have pride of place for any past or present artistic leader of the RSC. Noble was barely into his 30s when in 1981 he directed an acclaimed production of A Doll’s House for the RSC, starring Cheryl Campbell and Stephen Moore and one of the defining Ibsen productions of its time. He returned to Ibsen twice over for the RSC, both times to scintillating effect: his 1989 main stage production of The Master Builder was scarily invigorating in its portrait of the self-deluded architect of the title (played at the time by the great John Wood) who reaches ever-higher in both his professional and romantic life before suffering a tragic fall. In 1997, Noble directed a very young Damian Lewis – since known the world over for his performance as Agent Brody on the TV series Homeland – in a rare sighting of Ibsen’s 1894 play, Little Eyolf. That cast, like Master Builder, numbered among its ranks the actress Joanne Pearce, who is also Noble’s wife.

“I’ve always had a happy relationship with Ibsen,” Noble told me when we caught up by telephone during the Bath run of Virginia Woolf, the director counting himself “very lucky” to have been able to return so often to Ibsen and to such continually fine results: to this list of stagings one must add his provocative reappraisal of Ibsen’s lengthy verse play, Brand, on London’s commercial West End in 2003 – a show that doubtless wouldn’t have been possible without the magnetic presence of its twice Oscar-nominated leading man, Ralph Fiennes, an actor who, like Noble, cut his teeth at the RSC.

Noble has a knack for locating the immediacy in canonical texts that in less skilled hands could perhaps seem tired or fusty – a gift that may be due in part to a director who is at home in the world of large-scale musicals (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Kiss Me, Kate, to name but two) as he is scouring the classics. “Ibsen’s plays talk to us directly today because they’re so accurate in the period in which they’re set,” says the director. He points out that A Doll’s House wouldn’t happen if Nora – the beleaguered wife who at the play’s end walks out on both her husband and, less forgivably, her children – had a bank account of her own; instead, she exists in thrall financially if not emotionally to a domestic relationship that she abandons in a final gesture that shocks playgoers still. Hedda Gabler, in turn, centers around what Noble describes as a “patriarchal society reminding us at every turn of the hold men have over women.” By today’s standards, a contemporary Hedda might be able to tell Tesman, the husband to whom she is newly married and by whom she is almost certainly pregnant, of her displeasure. Instead, as Noble describes it, Hedda finds herself “without the joyously romantic marriage she had once wished for and equally without the glamorous life she craved as a substitute for that profound sexual relationship.” It’s no surprise, then, that this particular heroine has few choices left but to reach for the gun in a play that sometimes finds Hedda described as a female Hamlet – a comparison Noble resists: “Hedda isn’t the great intellectual that Hamlet is. She’s more impulsive and very, very of the 19th century in that way.”

As far as bringing this woman and her world to Hong Kong audiences, Noble has been down this worldly path before; he once directed Twelfth Night in Japan, while numerous opera credits have led him to countries and cultures – Russia for instance – where he may not know the language but nonetheless evinces an affinity for the work. Stylistically, he speaks of preferring productions that exist “without clutter” and that help locate what he terms the “inner architecture of the play.” And if that language itself suggests the master builder-architect of Ibsen’s play, think of Noble as the master director and his Hong Kong Hedda Gabler as the latest stop on an ever-forward, always-exciting journey.

This article does not represent the view of the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong).
©All rights reserved by the IATC(HK). No part of this article may be reproduced without the prior permission of the IATC(HK) and/ or the author. 

 
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