|Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen|
In this production of Ibsen's ghosts you will not see 'a new version specially prepared for modern audiences.' Ibsen is either digestible as he stands or he is not. It is fairly unlikely that he would enjoy his work being modified or tampered with by opinionated directors. Modern audiences are just as intelligent and probably better informed than audiences of Ibsen's day. There is nothing to equal a live performance, however not many people are able to see Ibsen's plays well acted in a theatre, because theatres are few and far between. We certainly hope that in giving a complete performance of this play Ghosts we are enabling a lot more people to see Ibsen's work more or less as he intended.
Shooting this play in video (film) format we have the benefit of using close-ups, we can isolate characters and run things together in a way impossible on the stage. Everyone gets a front seat view, actors do not need to project their voices and can act in a more subdued and less histrionic way. In fact working on this project revealed that Ibsen's approach to writing suits our newer medium very well.
Casting this film was an interesting experience. As we were not offering chauffeur-driven cars or personal hairdressers the agents of well established actors were not interested. However many fine actors did come forward keen to play the rewarding roles of an Ibsen work. Selection was difficult. I feel sure that Ibsen would not have been disappointed in the work of the cast we assembled.
Of course in a play for the stage there is not much action. There's a lot of talk. There are no car chases, violence is usually off stage; there are few changes of scene. But most of the time the interaction we have with people in our daily lives is verbal or emotional; few of us habitually resort to blows or jumping out of windows in a tantrum; we don't generally suddenly take off to exotic places in a helicopter.
In Ibsen's play Ghosts however, it is hard to argue that nothing happens, that the characters are not put through the mill of life, that we are not seeing a story unfold which we don't recognise or identify with. Indeed it can be argued that looking back a little in time we see things even more clearly than Ibsen's contemporaries might have.
In an age when millions of people in the 21st century apparently allow themselves to be governed by doubtful books of rules written hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago, the works of an imaginative writer of the stature of Ibsen who died little over a hundred years ago can hardly be considered out of date.
Ibsen had a fine sense of humour; he knew how to write, how to structure a play, how to draw characters - all these technical things. But he was also an artist, an entertainer; he meant people to leave the theatre changed a little, transported a little, amused, absorbed by what happens, sympathetic, appalled; at the end of it all you don't know what he really thought about it, just that life in all it's complexities and confusions fascinated him; for a while he holds it up to the light and in the couple of hours we journey with him, we too are able to make just a little more sense of it all than we usually do. That is the pleasure of the theatrical experience.
The translator was William Archer who almost single-handedly put Ibsen onto the English-speaking stage. He learned Norwegian and visited Ibsen in Oslo. His honest work has the flavour of the times which no "updating" can give.
The Director: Malcolm Hossick (a Scot now in his 70's) has been making films professionally for more than 40 years. He learned the trade producing and directing documentary and drama films in the BBC in the 60's and 70's. Since then he has worked independently making documentaries in literary and musical subjects with occasional forays into drama.
Price: £15.61 / $24.35 (Excluding VAT at 20%)