Brian Friel's version of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler premiered at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in September 2008, to celebrate the theatre's birthday, eighty years after the Gate's inaugural production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt.
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Norwegian poet and playwright, was one of the shapers of modern theatre, who tempered naturalism with an understanding of social responsibility and individual psychology. His earliest major plays, Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867), were large-scale verse dramas, but with Pillars of the Community (1877) he began to explore contemporary issues. There followed A Doll's House (1879), Ghosts (1881) and An Enemy of the People (1882). A richer understanding of the complexity of human impulses marks such later works as The Wild Duck (1885), Rosmersholm (1886), Hedda Gabler (1890) and The Master Builder (1892), while the imminence of mortality overshadows his last great plays, John Gabriel Borkman (1896) and When We Dead Awaken (1899).
Brian Friel was born in County Tyrone in 1929. He died in County Donegal on 2 October 2015.
Now, Penelope and her chorus of wronged maids tell their side of the story in a new stage version by Margaret Atwood, adapted from her own wry, witty and wise novel.
The Penelopiad premiered with the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Canada's National Arts Centre at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 2007.
With her assertion that she is 'first and foremost a human being', Nora Helmer sent shockwaves throughout Europe when she appeared in Ibsen's greatest and most famous play, A Doll's House. Depicting one woman's struggle to be treated as a rational human being, and not merely a wife, mother or fragile doll, the play changed the course of theatrical history and sparked debates worldwide about the roles of men and women in society. Ibsen's follow-up Ghosts was no less radical, with its unrelenting investigation into religious hypocrisy, family secrets and sexual double-dealing. These two masterpieces are accompanied here by The Pillars of Society and An Enemy of the People, both set in Norwegian coastal towns and exploring the tensions and dark compromises at the heart of society.
The new Penguin series of Ibsen's major plays offer the best available editions in English, under the general editorship of Tore Rem. All the plays have been freshly translated by the best modern translators and are based on the recently published, definitive Norwegian edition of Ibsen's works. They include new introductions and editorial apparatus by leading scholars.