Henrik Ibsen Father of Modern Drama 1828 Ibsen was born is Skein, in southern Norway, to Knut and Marichen Ibsen His father was a successful merchant; his mother was an avid painter who loved the theater. Ibsen was the eldest of five children (four boys and a girl) 1836 The Ibsen family business failed; many of the family and friends turned their backs on the family. The scars of this betrayal stayed with Ibsen for the rest of his life. By some accounts, his mother turned to religion for comfort, and his father sank into a great depression. 1843 Ibsen’s father sent him to Grimstad to study as an apothecary’s apprentice. These were lovely years for Ibsen; he spent much of his spare time reading. He did manage to father an illegitimate child, though, in 846. 1850 Catiline, his verse drama, was published. It only sells a few copies. Ibsen moved to Oslo. The Warrior’s Barrow was performed (only three performances). Ibsen was appointed the theater poet and stage manager at the Ole Bull’s Nose Theater in Bergen. During his time there, he staged more than 150 plays. 1853 – St. John’s Night 1855 – Lady Inger of Ostraat This play was his first critical success as a playwright 1856 – The Feast of Solhaug In this year, Ibsen became engaged to Susannah Thoresen. 1857 – Olaf Liljegkraus 1858 Ibsen and Susannah were married Ibsen got a job directing a rival company to the conservative national theater on Oslo. His company performed his play The Vikings of Helgeland. 1858 This year began a depressing period in his life when he was so busy with the business of the theater that he did not write any new plays. To add to his misery, the theater company did not do well and was beaten soundly by the conservative national theater company. Ibsen’s company eventually went bankrupt. 1859 Ibsen and his wife have a son, Sigurd. 1862 –Love’s Comedy 1864 – The Pretenders This play was a great a success. It earned him a traveling scholarship (or, put it another way – 27 years of voluntary exile). He only returned to Norway for brief visits. 1866 – Brand This play was great success. Peer Gynt -- 1867 This play lead to him being decorated by the King Christian IX with the Grand Cross in the Dannebrog Order for his work. Ibsen in 1870 1869 – The League of youth 1873 – The Emperor and Galilean Ibsen considers this one of his most important plays. In 8174, he returned to Oslo for a visit. 1877 – Pillars of Society A Doll’s House -- 1879 This work was the first of Ibsen’s plays to deal with a contemporary social theme. It is the story of a young mother who comes to questions the roles that society has established for her. It ends with her leaving her husband and children to go off and find her own identity. That ending shocked the audiences of the day. Ghosts -- 1881 This play is about a young woman who marries a player in the belief that her love can reform him and keep him away from his vices. Instead, though her, he infects their son with syphilis, which, at the time, was basically an extended death sentence )after a period of madness). Ghosts -- 1881 Needless to say, sexually transmitted diseases were not a typical play topic. Especially galling to many conservative critics was that fact that the young woman did exactly what society demanded: love her man despite his philandering ways. The London Daily Telegraph panned the play as “an open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publically; a lazar [leper] house with all its doors and windows open.” An Enemy of the People-- 1882 This play is the story of a doctor who discovers that the mineral springs which are a major tourist attraction in town have been contaminated. He spreads the word, thinking that he will be praised for helping, but us instead cursed by townspeople and branded as “an enemy of the people.” An Enemy of the People -- 1882 In this play, Ibsen calls into question the popular notion of the day that small communities of people (and small towns) were naturally good. Several critics have remarked that the power of this play may stem from Ibsen’s sense of betrayal by the treatment of his family in their own town. 1884 – The Wild Duck 1886 – Rosmerholm 1888 – The lady From the Sea Hedda Gabler -- 1890 As the play opens, Hedda has just returned from her honeymoon with Jorgen Tesman. It is clear that she does not love him and that she chose to marry him simply because she had become bored of single life. There are hints that she may be pregnant, but she gives no indication of wanting to be a mother and it is shown throughout the play that this a role to which she would not be suited. To alleviate her frustrations over the restrictions of her situation, Hedda has taken to randomly firing off the pistols her father left to her. Hedda Gabler -- 1890 When Thea Elvstead, arrives on the scene, Hedda's capacity for cruelty and manipulation come to the fore. Thea has left her husband in order to be with Ejlert Lovborg, a talented but unstable writer. Under Thea's guidance, Lovborg has completed a new manuscript. The opportunity for Hedda to act upon her desire to control the fate of those around her is presented by the arrival of Lovborg, with whom she had once had a romantic relationship. She manipulates recovering alcoholic Lovborg, into going to a party with her husband and their acquaintance, Mr Brack. During the course of the evening, Lovborg succumbs to drink and loses his precious manuscript. It is found by Tesman, who brings it home to Hedda. Hedda Gabler -- 1890 When the distraught Lovborg comes to Hedda, she does not return the manuscript but gives him one of her father's pistols instead, encouraging him to commit suicide. She then burns the manuscript. When news of Lovborg's death arrives, Hedda, who had imagined his suicide would be some sort of beautiful passing, is horrified to learn that it was actually a messy, sordid end. Brack, knowing that the pistol with which Lovborg killed himself belongs to Hedda, tries to blackmail her into an affair. This is something she cannot live with because it would mean being trapped, at the mercy of another person. She goes into the next room and, to everyone's horror, shoots herself. Synopsis from Hubpages Hedda Gabler -- 1890 Although it touches on themes from his earlier plays, especially a Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler provides a title character of such psychological complexity that the role is still regarded as being one of the most desirable stage roles for an actress. 1892 – the Master Builder 1894 – Little Eyolf 1896 – John Gabriel Borkman 1900 – When We Dead Awaken Ibsen died in 1900 after a series of strokes. Characteristics of Ibsen’s Drama Unified Illusion – trying to trick the audience as completely as possible into believing that they are watching real life. Ensemble Acting – stressing the importance of the actors working as a group, not with one or two “stars” Realistic plots – stories that dealt with real life concerns, including many topics regarded as taboo in the theatrical arts Ibsen’s Problem Plays Pièce à thèse – French term which literally means “a play with a point.” This realism was crucial to Ibsen’s goal of creating a play that challenged toxic societal norms, or in other words a “social problem” play. Quite the opposite of escapism, a social problem play deals first-hand with realistic situations in an attempt to expose and analyze a perceived problem with society. ( They make problems in society the subject of debate. They have a socio-critical perspective. The action is in a contemporary setting. They present everyday people and situations.