Ibsen: The Dramaturgy of Fear

Ibsen: The Dramaturgy of Fear

Ibsen: The Dramaturgy of Fear

Ibsen: The Dramaturgy of Fear

Synopsis

Although Henrik Ibsen is secure in his reputation as a major dramatist and intellectual figure, little attention has been given to the connections between his dramatic practice and his plays' powerful impact on audience and culture. Michael Goldman examines "how the play attacks us in the theater" and the means by which Ibsen assaults the audience's expectations and opinions. Focusing on specific features of Ibsen's dramaturgy that have been overlooked or underappreciated, Goldman looks at the plays' unsettling dialogue and driving plots, then explores the impacts on both character and audience when Ibsen's powerful vision takes effect. How does Ibsen illustrate a character's inner turmoil, and how is this quality realized by the actor on stage? What is the "spine"--the single, definitive phrase used by actors to pinpoint the dominant motivation-in A Doll's House? How does the stage design in The Wild Duck arouse the audience's curiosity? With considerable attention to these plays as well as The Master Builder and Peer Gynt, Goldman examines the characteristic "moments of crisis" and the striking similarities of gesture and language from play to play. Goldman discusses every aspect of Ibsen's art, from language, psychological motive, and narrative construct, to approaches used by actors and directors in play productions.

Excerpt

Ibsen's characters are killers. Even in their staid northern parlors, they maneuver with a cruel and resourceful ferocity. Jean Giraudoux once said that a play by Racine is “a series of negotiations between wild beasts”; his remark seems to work even better for plays like Ghosts and Rosmersholm. Of course, some talent for inflicting pain—or, to put it more politely, the ability to imagine characters who possess such talent—is basic equipment for any dramatist. Moment to moment, good dramatic dialogue sustains action by compelling a response—one character forcing another to react—and to do anything that requires a reaction is to do some kind of hurt, to violate another person's autonomy and thus to leave a scar. Artaud's “Everything that acts is a cruelty” is in this sense simply an elementary principle of drama. But Ibsen's characters are quite extraordinarily gifted at getting their claws in. Active, passive, oblique, direct, with an “involuntary” phrase or a frontal assault, even from beyond the grave they do their damage brilliantly. Rebecca West drives Beata Rosmer and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.