Well…so…we’re opening, and we’ve come a long way. The thing about Ibsen is, you work and work, like making your careful, arduous way along a strange and dangerously cluttered corridor looking for a door, you find the door, and burst into a room–Discovery! Insight! Arrival!–, and then you discover the room you’ve burst into at last leads to another room, in fact, to a number of other rooms, and you immediately know you have to search those rooms, and you have to decide in which room to begin to search…you get the idea. I won’t even get into going back out into the difficult corridor after you’ve searched the numerous rooms and looking for another door. You get the idea.
We’ve worked and searched for weeks, and we’ve discovered a lot, seen many things, arrived at much. The thing about Ibsen (to my mind, more than any other playwright) is that the working and searching are bound to continue, in pain and joy, nausea and pleasure, grating nerves and momentary bliss, as long as the play is performed, as long as it lives in our memories. Because Ibsen is writing, with unparalleled skill and power, about the depths and complexities of human nature, we will never get to the bottom of this play. Just as we none of us likely will, in our single lifetimes, ever get to the bottoms of ourselves. Ibsen’s program as a playwright is to, with little mercy, demonstrate the aforementioned work and search, and that they are inevitable, that they are essential, that denial of them has its consequences in the morbid, paralytic and destructive.
So…what does an audience member thus get out of all of this? Why, something fresh, immediate and boiling-over every night–funny, terrifying, maddening and beautifully sad. Discovery! Insight! Arrival! Not to mention, probably, at some points, Loss, Blindness, Departure, as well… I confess I’ve felt consistently anxious during the rehearsal process, and not just anxious about how the thing was going…just anxious. Say the anxiety was a desert, then there were days, or hours, when I came upon lush and expansive oases which were a feeling that I was a worthwhile and productive human being, surrounded and abetted by similar such beings, and that our lives had a great deal of meaning. Then, of course, back to the desert, but such are the nature and produce of a quest (the work and search), which I suppose life is whether we like it or know it or not, which I’m certain is the experience of this masterwork of Ibsen.
So…at this point we ask others–You!–to join us. You get to take away, from an evening in the theater, necessary provisions (some of them hard to chew and even harder to swallow, true) and excellent good company (cranky sometimes, but reliable, strong-backed, often humorous) for your quest.
My personal thanks to Karla Boos for the gift of this great work. To the intrepid actors: Bridget Connors, Malcolm Tulip, Robin Walsh, Ken Bolden, Luka Glinsky, Daina Michelle Griffith, Carly Otte. To the amazing designers: C. Todd Brown, Christine Casaus, Tony Ferrieri, Ryan McMasters. And to those stalwarts of getting stuff done: Scott D. Nelson and R.J. Romeo.