Ibsen’s “Ghosts”

Henrik Ibsen has been called the “father of modern drama,” and rightly so. His plays not only scandalized the society in which he lived, but offered a dramatic departure from the Romantic style of writing the permeated the nineteenth century. Having penned some of the most performed plays ever, Ibsen’s writing has clearly withstood the test of time as his work continues to challenge audiences even in the twenty first century. Buck Creek Players, of Acton, Indiana, celebrate Ibsen and his legacy with a production of Ghosts, opening in Indianapolis theatre June 4 through June 13. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $14.00 for Indianapolis people and $12.00 for Indianapolis kids with a student ID and senior citizens. Don’t miss this Indianapolis performing arts event.

Most of Ibsen’s most well known plays focuses on the challenges faced by a central female character, struggling to find identity in a world with few choices for women. A Doll’s House gives us Nora, a loving wife and mother whose attempts to save her family’s finances results in disgrace and the abandonment of her own children. In Hedda Gabler we have Hedda, a self centered heiress, who takes her own life after learning of her pregnancy. In Ghosts, Helen Alving grabs our attention as she struggles through the aftermath of a corrupt marriage to a cheating husband. As the truth about her and her family’s lives surfaces in the wake of his death, she is faced with the crumbling illusion of a perfect family. Ultimately, she must make a similar choice to the ones faced by Nora and Hedda about her only son, Oswald.

Mrs. Alving builds an orphanage after her husband’s death, in an attempt to undercut the inheritance her son will receive. Prior to her husband’s demise, she sent her son away to keep him from the influence of his father’s debaucherous ways. However, upon his return it becomes evident that Oswald carries enough of his father in him to reflect an immortal image of the man who cause Mrs. Alving so much distress. Oswald seems to step on the same lecherous path as his father, chasing after the house maid Regina.

When Mrs. Alving reveals to her close friend and mentor Pastor Manders that Regina is actually the illegitimate daughter of her late husband, after his affair with their original maid Johanna, Oswald’s lusty tendencies are suddenly put into perspective. Alving must tell her son the truth about his half sister before it is too late. However, when her son reveals that he is suffering from a deadly illness, she is faced with a much more traumatic decision.

Though Ibsen never mentions it by name, it is understood that Oswald’s infirmity is actually a case of syphilis. Mentioning a sexually transmitted disease on stage in the Victorian era was more than taboo, it was completely unheard of. Yet, Ibsen’s play centers on the hypocritical and dangerous lifestyle the wealthy often play into in such a class based society. His drama is a scathing commentary on nineteenth century morality.

Mrs. Alving’s situation is reflective of the failure of the pervasive Victorian ideal. Yet her life of fulfilling her duty as opposed to following her desires leaves her no better off. Those idealized beliefs are only the “ghosts” of the past, haunting the present. The play was written in 1881 and first performed in 1882 when a Danish touring company performed it in the Aurora Turner Hall in Chicago. It was met with harsh critical reaction, pushing the comfort level of audiences everywhere. One reviewer called it a “morbid, unhealthy and disgusting story,” while another referred to it as “Ugly, nasty, discordant and downright dull.”

Yet, Ibsen’s story is still performed today, despite the backlash in which it was originally received. For this reason, he is credited with having not only changed the nature of theatre around the globe but also the nature of people as they approached a new industrial era. Don’t miss Buck Creek Players production of Ibsen’s Ghosts opening Friday, June 4.

Before the show, treat yourself to dinner at any of these yummy Indianapolis restaurants. Afterward, discuss Ghosts cultural relevance in today’s fast paced, anything goes society over drinks at any of these refreshing Indianapolis bars. Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Events and Information on Fun City Finder.com for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. We cover Indianapolis arts to Indianapolis sports and more. Get out in Indy and find some fun! Make the Circle City your playground!

June 4 to June 13, 2010

Buck Creek Players Theatre

11150 Southeastern Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46259