Hedda Gabler

Written by Henrik Ibsen translated by Michael Meyer

Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th April and Wednesday 18th to Saturday 21st April 2018

Directed by Archie McKeown

Hedda Gabler tells the story of Hedda; a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, bound by society's expectations and living under her famous father's shadow. When old aquaintances arrive, Hedda finds herself caught in a perpetual downward spiral and power and influence are threatened by the events set in motion.

This exciting re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen's classic, incorporates music and physical theatre to explore the wide-ranging and still highly relevant themes.

AuthorHenrick Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906)

Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as the godfather of modern drama and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre. His plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when Victorian values of family life and propriety largely held sway in Europe. Ibsen's work examined the realities that lay behind many facades, possessing a revelatory nature that was disquieting to many contemporaries. It utilised a critical eye and free enquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality.

Ibsen was born to relatively well-off family and became an apprentice pharmacist at the age of 15. He fathered an illegitimate son at the age of 18 - (whom he never met) and later left for Christiania (Oslo) to try to attend university. He failed the entrance exams and started to concentrate on his writing. His first play 'Catiline', was published under the pseudonym Brynjolf Bjarme when he was only 20, but it was not performed. In 1858 he became the creative director of the Christiania Theatre and married Suzannah Thoresen the same year. She gave birth to their only child, a son, Sigurd in 1859. Disenchanted with the poverty and lack of recognition of his life in Norway, in 1864 he went to live in Italy.

His next play, 'Brand' written in 1865, was staged to critical and financial success, as was the following play, 'Peer Gynt' to which Edvard Grieg famously composed incidental music and songs. Ibsen moved from Italy to Germany in 1868, where he spent years writing the play he regarded as his main work, 'Emperor and Galilean' although very few shared his opinion about this play. Ibsen published A Doll's House in 1879 and Ghosts in 1881; both scathing commentaries on Victorian morality. 'The Wild Duck' written in 1884 is by many considered Ibsen's finest work, and it is certainly the most complex. In later plays such as 'Hedda Gabler' and 'The Master Builder', Ibsen explored psychological conflicts. These plays are particularly interesting because of their hard-edged, objective look at interpersonal confrontation.

Ibsen can be credited with completely rewriting the rules of drama with a realism which was to be adopted by Chekhov and others and which we see in the theatre to this day. He returned to Norway in 1891 and died in Christiania (now Oslo) after a series of strokes in 1906.

PlayHedda Gabler

The Bench Production

Hedda Gabler Image

This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Hedda Tesman/ GablerKatie Watson
George TesmanChris Davey
Juliana TesmanSue Dawes
Thea ElvstedFrances Peters
Judge BrackSteve Burt
Eilert LoevbergStuart Riley
BertheAngie McKeown
EnsembleJulie Wood, Jeff Bone, Ben Tanner, Suzy Gains


Director Archie McKeown
Assistant Director/Producer Jacquie Penrose
Stage Manager Tasmin Halford
Assistant Stage Manager Alan Welton
Lighting and Sound Design Phil Hanley
Lighting Operation Phil Hanley
Sound Operation Phil Hanley
Flyer Design Dan Finch
Costumes Archie McKeown, Jacquie Penrose
Set Design Archie McKeown, Jacquie Penrose
Set Construction Julie Wood
Programme Editor Derek Callam
Photography David Penrose

Director's Notes

Thanks for supporting this production of Hedda Gabler. When I pitched Hedda, I don't know that I had actually considered reaching this stage. Directing is considerably harder than I initially thought… especially when combining with second year A level studies!

I have been fortunate enough to work with an incredibly strong group of people who have helped bring my vision to life. All the cast and crew have been hardworking, innovative, and great fun in rehearsals and I can't thank them enough for their many contributions.

It would be impossible to single out individual members of the cast as they are all so strong. However, I would like to thank the Physical Ensemble as they have been crucial in creating the atmosphere for this production. Their role sets the tone - elevating Ibsen's words to intensify the claustrophobia Hedda feels, embodying both her, and her fears, of oppression, scandal and the inescapability of her dire circumstances. Whilst also appreciating the humour of a moon-walking fire!

I also need to especially thank Jacquie Penrose - my assistant director - who inducted me into the Bench with Twelfth Night last year and has offered me so much support over the past few months. Helping to shape these characters and the production you see today.

We really hope you like it!

Archie McKeown (Director)


The NewsJames George

Seventeen-year old Archie McKeown is directing The Bench's latest offering, Ibsen's classic Hedda Gabler, at The Spring over the next two weeks.

And McKeown is a man clearly chock-full of interesting theatricality, most noticeably in the introduction of a black-clad ensemble, used to comment on the action of the play and – on occasion – to join in. On opening night I wished more courage-in-conviction from the director; if using an ensemble – use them more! The actors occasionally appeared clunky add-on rather than intrinsic part of the action.

As the eponymous anti-heroine, Katie Watson conveys Hedda's frustration with small-town life beautifully, but needs to focus on Ibsen's subtext and live the situation rather than demonstrating it. This was particularly obvious in her conversation with an unknowing Thea (Frances Peters) about Hedda's previous relationship with the writer, Loevborg. That said, her confrontation with the sleazy judge (Steve Burt) in which she realises she is, effectively, his slave was very nicely handled. And as Loevborg, Stuart Reilly really gets the measure of Ibsen's difficult text and convincingly presents us with a soul equally as troubled as Hedda's. This is the stand-out performance of the evening, with Reilly making believable choices in his portrayal and playing them effectively.

Read more at: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/whats-on/theatre/review-hedda-gabler-at-the-spring-arts-centre-in-havant-1-8458326

Production Photographs