Onstage: Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” Performance on Campus

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Cate Blanchett as Hedda Gabler in a 2006 production of "Hedda Gabler"

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The weather in Berkeley has been terrible: gray clouds and constant rain. Luckily, the kind of ennui and existential frustration stormy weather brings out is just the right setting to see Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s classic play written in 1890 on housewives, destruction and boredom, “Hedda Gabler.” A local production presented by the English Undergraduate Association Ciphers Productions and performed by Cal students will be opening this Friday, March 16 on campus.

For those unfamiliar with Henrik Ibsen’s work, he’s mostly renowned for creating complicated female heroines (or anti-heroines, rather), usually stifled by marriages and societal constricts on gender roles. His other famous play, “A Doll’s House,” was and still is admired as a critique on the Victorian ideals of marriage, with women confined to the home and children. “Hedda Gabler,” however, contains similar themes but is much bloodier and more self-destructive (and therefore, sexier). The protagonist, Hedda Gabler, is a deliciously mean and difficult character that is still rather unparalleled by today’s most neurotic, yet magnetic female protagonists. The play transcends historical boundaries (I know many may ask, “The 19th century can be exciting?”) mainly because “Hedda Gabler” delves into the post-modern human psyche so intensely. In short: there’s a bored, angry woman with a gun. What’s not to love?