Twenty years of The Ibsen Festival
On the occation of The Ibsen festival's 20-year mark, associate professor of theater science Keld Hyldig gives us the highlights of The Ibsen Festival's history.
“Norway may be on the verge of discovering Ibsen,” began the article about the opening of The Ibsen Festival in 1990 by Aftenposten reviewer Jan E. Hansen. While Ibsen could hardly be considered a new discovery in 1990, it might be fair to talk of a rediscovery.
Ibsen’s drama, certainly since the first performance of Peer Gynt at Christiania Theater in 1876, which caught public attention and generated enthusiasm both nationally and internationally, has been a cornerstone of Norwegian theatre. Ibsen’s drama, both the older, historical plays and the epic dramas of Brand and Peer Gynt, as well ashis realist, contemporary drama, has been key to the establishment and development of modern theatre in Norway; to the development of the arts of acting and directing and to the general understanding of theatre.
Virtually all of Ibsen’s plays have, since their inception, been performed over and over again in new productions at Norwegian theatres.
Looking back through the history of theatre , it may appear as though each new generation or age has felt a need to “rediscover” Ibsen. Time and again throughout history, a renewed feel for Ibsen’s relevance and contemporary appeal has been found.
Of course, Ibsen’s dramas are coated with the dust of history; but through dramaturgical adaptation, the dedicated work of actors and cutting-edge direction, Ibsen’s drama has been continually reinterpreted and made relevant throughout the 20th century. Thus, an Ibsen tradition has developed as a lasting and guiding force within Norwegian theatre.
The Ibsen tradition is not limited to Norway and Norwegian theatre, however. From the 1870s onwards, Ibsen was an internationally recognized playwright. Following his death in 1906, Ibsen has continued to be one of the most valued and frequently staged playwrights throughout most of the world. The importance of Ibsen internationally has naturally also been a significant factor in establishing his status in Norway today.
A wave of renewal
Ibsen has been performed in a number of ways; he has become popular and relevant in waves. There have been times when it was felt that the cobwebs of history had taken hold of Ibsen, only for his modern feel and relevance to suddenly be “rediscovered”. All that was needed was to wipe the dust from the pages and approach the texts from a different angle, daring to take new directions in the way the plays were acted and performed.
In this manner, Ibsen’s work has intermittently thrived as relevant and modern theatre. This could be seen in the 1920s and 30s; and in the 1960s and 70s a new renewal and modernization of the presentation of Ibsen’s work occurred in Norwegian theatre.
When The Ibsen Festival was initiated in 1990, it heralded a new wave of renewal which may have peaked during the three festivals in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Stein Winge and the first festival
“I want to make The National Theater into an Ibsen theatre. It never has been, you see,” Stein Winge stated, rhetorically playing down the historical impact of Ibsen at The National Theater, when he presented his plans for an international Ibsen festival in 1990 as a newly appointed theatre director in the autumn of 1989 (Aftenposten 11.10.1989).
Six months later, at a press conference where Winge presented the programme for the festival, he expressed the intention behind the festival thus: “This festival is meant to be an annual event. The Ibsen Festival is to become an engine, powering the beginning of each theatre season.” He further pointed out the fact that Ibsen is frequently performed internationally and that “we should therefore perform his works more often ourselves. Not just for their status as classics, but to honour Ibsen as the innovator he was in his time”. (NTB 30.04.1990)
In an interview a couple of days before the opening of The Ibsen Festival in 1990, Stein Winge said that one intention behind the festival was to tear down what he referred to as a stagnant Norwegian Ibsen tradition. “We keep walling him in! […] We are not the best at performing Ibsen! We want to organize an international festival and show the audience how well Ibsen can be performed – and that we need to see him not just from our own vantage point – that we actually could get some punches thrown from outside” (Dagens Næringsliv 25.08.1990).
The Ibsen Festival – an overview
For the first three years after its inception, The Ibsen Festival was held annually, but since 1992 it has been held every other year. The first year may have involved a somewhat random international search for interesting Ibsen performances to invite to the festival. In addition to several local productions, performances were mainly in Swedish and English, including productions from Ireland, Great Britain and New Zealand.
The festival became a success, attracting attention both nationally and internationally. At the following year’s festival, it became evident that the international network had grown. In addition to an ambitious number of The National Theatre’s own productions and a couple of productions from English-speaking countries, the 1991 festival program included a significant contribution from former communist Eastern European states, with productions from what was then Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.
1992 saw the performance of productions from Sweden, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and Poland, as well as a Peer Gynt production from the West African country of Burkina Faso. However, for the first few years the festival mainly featured The National Theatre’s own productions, anchored in tradition, and equally traditional productions from English speaking countries and Sweden.
Ellen Horn and The Ibsen Festival
As the artistic director for The Ibsen Festival from 1994–2000, artistic director Ellen Horn sought to strengthen the artistic profile of the festival. This involved a reduced emphasis on finding different and “exotic” guest performances, and instead seeking out innovative productions with strong artistic merit.
For example, Horn opened up the festival to Ibsen productions from other Norwegian theatres. She recruited non-traditional Ibsen variations by independent groups and non-institutional projects, like the performance dance Moret Forêt (based on The Wild Duck) by Collage Dansekompani (1994), Super-Per by Baktruppen, and Jo Strømgren’s performance dance Peer Pressure (both from 1998).
In addition, productions of non-Ibsen dramas, such as the Hamlet variation Elsinore by Canadian Robert Lepage (1996), the National Theatre production of Jon Fosse’s The Child (1996) directed by Kai Johnsen, and the Hamlet production by Lithuanian Eimuntas Nekrošius (1998) have been included. Several of these productions had a strong thematic connection to Ibsen while at the same time demonstrating an artistic way of thinking for The Ibsen festival, expanding the scope from that of Ibsen in the strictest of terms, to Ibsen as a source of inspiration for new drama and new theatre.
The festivals in 1998, 2000 and 2002 were smaller in scope, with fewer international guest performances than previous festivals. This was probably due in particular to the festival’s financial difficulties. However, The Ibsen Festival has always been popular with audiences and its 20-year development can, when seen as a whole, be characterized as an artistic success.
Finances have, however, been a continuous headache for The National Theater as an organizer. Neither the Ministry of Culture nor the Municipality of Oslo has been willing to directly support the festival financially. The Ministry of Culture does not wish to give The National Theater “preferential treatment” over other national theatre institutions by allocating funds specifically to The Ibsen Festival.
However, The National Theater has not been willing to make the festival an independent entity, despite some pressure to move in that direction that has made itself felt over the years. For this reason, The National Theater has financed the festival by means of sponsorship, separate budgets and a significant volunteer effort from employees at the theatre.
The Ibsen Festival of 2000, which was significantly smaller than the festivals of previous years, highlighted Central European theatre, with guest performances from Denmark, Great Britain, Poland and Germany. These guest performances from countries with a similar theatrical tradition appear to have contributed to a renewed attention to artistic quality even in Norwegian productions.
A meld of traditionalism and innovation in Norwegian and European theatre was emerging. The newly appointed theatre director Eirik Stubø summarized that year’s festival thus: “Norway and Germany were the high scorers at The Ibsen Festival this year” (Aftenposten 10.09.2000), referring, among other things, to The National Theater production of The Lady From The Sea directed by Danish Peter Langdal, Dag Solstad’s Shyness and Dignity adapted for the stage and directed by Marit Moum Aune, and the production of Ghosts from Volksbühne in Berlin directed by Sebastian Hartmann.
At The Ibsen Festival of 2002, the theme of which was “Ibsen meets Chekov”, the balance between tradition and innovation in Norwegian and European regietheater made itself known through artistically sound, yet traditional, productions of, among others, the works of Ingmar Bergman and Kjetil Bang-Hansen, while productions of the works of Hungarian Gábor Zsámbéki and young Norwegian directors Ole Anders Tandberg, Runar Hodne and Jo Strømgren represented new trends within the art of direction.
The Ibsen Festival of 2004 was the most comprehensive and possibly also the most artistically significant in the history of the festival until then. The festival became a manifestation of new regietheater, and the connection between Norwegian and German theatre was particularly emphasized. The productions of three key German directors were represented: Sebastian Hartmann, Stephan Kimmig and Thomas Ostermeier, in addition to several prominent Norwegian and other foreign directors.
The festival featured a total of six different productions of A Doll’s House, which helped draw attention to the art of directing and the wealth of possible interpretations rather than Ibsen’s texts in themselves. However, as Dagbladet’s cultural editor Hege Duckert noted in her commentary (26.08.2004), it was alarming that all six of these, not to mention all the 17 productions at the festival, were directed by men. She put her finger on the gender political imbalance in contemporary regietheater as it was represented at The Ibsen Festival of 2004.
The Ibsen Year of 2006
In the official Ibsen Year of 2006, the festival lasted more than three weeks, and featured 31 different productions. The scope and level of artistic ambition in that year must be seen in the context of the national celebration of the Ibsen Year, which also improved the festival’s finances.
Norwegian productions were heavily featured: When We Dead Awaken, directed by Stein Winge, Alexander Mørk-Eidem’s Ghosts, Runar Hodne’s The Master Builder, Eirik Stubø’s Hedda Gabler, Viktoria Meirik’s production of Little Eyolf from Den Nationale Scene in Bergen, as well as The Wild Duck from director duo Toril Goksøyr and Camilla Martens.
A number of guest performances from key European directors like Peter Langdal (Hedda Gabler), Calixto Bieito (Peer Gynt), Thomas Ostermeier (Hedda Gabler) and Robert Wilson (The Lady From The Sea) were also featured. The focus was, therefore, still on Ibsen interpretations in contemporary European regietheater (and the international guest performances were still completely dominated by male directors).
The Ibsen Festival of 2008
The Ibsen Festival of 2008 was somewhat smaller than the festival of 2006. However, the same artistic profile was continued, with a blend of The National Theater’s own productions, foreign guest directors in Norwegian productions and a couple of non-European guest performances.
Two productions directed by Eirik Stubø were performed at The National Theater; Rosmersholm and Hedda Gabler, and An Enemy of the People by Runar Hodne. Catalanian Calixto Bieto directed The National Theater’s production of Brand (a co-production with Bergen International Festival) and Sofia Jupither from Sweden directed August Strindberg’s A Dream Play at Torshovteatret. Stockholm’s Stadsteater gave a guest performance of Hedda Gabler directed by Norwegian Alexander Mørk-Eidem.
Two German guest performances were featured: The Wild Duck from Deutsches Theater Berlin directed by Michael Thalheimer, and Sebastian Hartmann’s St. Matthew’s Passion (based on Ingmar Bergman’s film Winter Light, Ibsen’s Brand and the Gospel of Matthew). The festival also hosted a guest performance of The Wild Duck from Hungary, an Iranian guest performance of Ghosts, and the theatre ensemble Mutumbeal Gogo of Mozambique performed Nora’s Daughters based on A Doll’s House.
The Ibsen Festival and the internationalization of theatre
20 years of The Ibsen Festival have highlighted Ibsen’s international significance and the fact that Ibsen is performed extensively all around the world. At the same time, The National Theater and Norwegian theatre institutions have become more internationally aware through The Ibsen Festival.
In the three first years of the festival, the organizers looked outwards, seeking a global perspective when searching for interesting international productions of Ibsen for the festival in Oslo. According to Ba Clemetsen, project leader for The Ibsen Festival, the fact that Ibsen was performed all over the world so often and the degree to which he was understood and interpreted in different ways, came as a surprise. The truth of the old idea that Ibsen is an internationally significant playwright became evident.
One of the fundamental ideas behind the festival during those first few years was to showcase the international variety in portraying Ibsen. “The world’s first Ibsen festival showed that our great playwright is international,” Stein Winge wrote in the Festival program book in 1991, continuing: “He is performed and seen as a challenge internationally. The second Ibsen festival will showcase this to the full extent. We’ve brought together shows from almost every corner of the globe.”
Diversity as an artistic vision?
In the festival program brochure for 1994, the then artistic director Ellen Horn continued in the same vein: “Variety has been a key word when compiling the festival’s program this year.” And in 1998 she summarized the festival’s international profile by pointing out the guest performances of that year from “England, Greece, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, Wales, China, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, New Zealand, Russia and Armenia.” She also mentioned the fact that The National Theater had recently visited Sweden, Denmark, Spain, China and Russia to perform their Ibsen productions.
But was there enough ambition to support a theatre festival every other year, enough will to map out and perform a varied selection of all of Ibsen’s productions from all over the world in Oslo, and promote guest performances of The National Theater’s Ibsen productions abroad? What was the artistic intention behind this?
In the festival program for 1996, Ellen Horn more accurately defined the intention behind The Ibsen Festival thus: “Artistically speaking, The Ibsen Festival makes way for a new and stimulating way to submerge oneself in Henrik Ibsen’s works. By gathering performances from all over the world at the festival, conventions are broken. The text is revived and we are able to experience Ibsen through fresh eyes.”
The goal was, in other words, not just to survey all the world’s Ibsen productions, but also to examine Ibsen’s drama with new theatrical eyes, break conventions and use Ibsen to develop new theatre.
Peer Gynt from Burkina Faso
Guest performances of non-European Ibsen performances have made it clear how both the interpretation (of Ibsen’s texts) and expression depend on local context and traditions. Non-European guest performances may appear “exotic” from a Norwegian and Western European point of view.
This was, for example, the case with the Peer Gynt production from Burkina Faso, which was performed at The Ibsen Festival in 1992. At The National Theater’s main stage, the gathering of African villagers around a fire to play drums and dance while the tale of the obsessive dreamer Peer Gynt is told to them, inevitably creates an exotic slant: “The performance given by our guests from far afield are presented in such a way as to make it difficult for us to compare it to our traditional ideas. Although surprisingly much of it is familiar,” Eilif Straume wrote (Aftenposten 11.09.1992).
A Chinese version of An Enemy of the People
Another example of a non-European Ibsen production was the Chinese version of An Enemy of the People in 1996. “The Chinese guest performance at the festival was obviously a different sort of experience from what we’re used to, and yet we felt at home,” wrote Arbeiderbladet’s reviewer Bengt Calmeyer (11.09.1996).
In this production, the actors blended western acting style with traditional Chinese modes of expression. Though the simplified plot, focusing on the conflict between financial interests and environmental issues, was easy to understand, several critics felt that the performance contained hidden symbolism that could only be understood in a Chinese context.
Ghosts from Iran
Yet another example of a non-European production was the production of Ghosts by the Iranian theatre group Mordad, which premiered at The Ibsen Festival in 2008 as Iranian authorities would not allow the performance to take place in Iran.
IdaLou Larsen wrote that even though many of the cultural codes are unfamiliar to us, it “is a powerful experience to see a woman in proscribed Muslim garb challenging the values of the righteous priest.” (Klassekampen 03.09.2008).
We may think that the cultural and societal issues that Ibsen’s drama alluded to in the 1880s are behind us, but a performance like the Iranian production of Ghosts make it plain that conflicts of gender politics, morals and religion such as those Ibsen described, are still present and relevant today. And this is as much of a problem for us in Western Europe as it is in Iran.
Most of the international guest performances at The Ibsen Festival have, however, come from European countries. And though great variations in interpretation and the use of Ibsen’s drama can be found here too, European theatre, despite cultural differences, has a common and similar background that is recognizable for Norwegian audiences.
It is therefore easier to compare a Russian, Israeli, German, American or Swedish production of Ibsen to a Norwegian one. Most productions from such Western countries will be inherently related, making comparisons and artistic and critical exchange possible.
An Enemy of the people from Armenia
In 1991, the festival showcased the relevance of Ibsen in a broad spectrum, from Armenia in the South East corner of Europe to the US in the West. One guest performance that received particular attention and praise was An Enemy of the People by the Sundukian National Theatre of Armenia.
The experience was made all the more powerful by the fact that Armenia at the time was in the middle of a dramatic struggle for independence from Russia after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, of which Armenia had been part since the 1930s. “Doctor Stockmann has rarely before seemed more alive and true to life than in Khoren Abramian’s performance [...]. Here Ibsen’s and the Armenian people’s fight for freedom blended together and became one,” Hans Rossiné wrote in Dagbladet (15.09.1991).
The performance was a powerful example of how political context and theatre can (and should) work together, regardless of whether the current political climate is tense or relaxed. One week after the guest performance, the Republic of Armenia was declared independent.
Theatre during the fall of communism
Both the map of Europe and European theatre underwent a change in the 1990s. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe meant that established conventions and artistic strategies developed during the communist era no longer worked. This led to a struggle for many European theatre institutions and ensembles to survive and find a new artistic identity.
At the same time, this resulted in a frantic exchange between Eastern and Western Europe, stimulating the development of theatre both in the East and West. German theatre in particular saw a lot of new development in the 90s, as a result of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.
A number of younger performers, several of whom had been raised or educated in theatre in the former East Germany, such as Einar Schleef, Frank Castorf and Sebastian Hartmann, became key players in German theatre in the 90s.
A number of other German and non-German directors, such as Robert Wilson, Eimuntas Nekrošius, Luc Bondy, Christoph Marthaler, Christoph Schlingensief and Thomas Ostermeier, were also key players in the development of a new European theatre in the 90s and 00s.
Fun and games
The new post-modern regietheater marked the independence from tradition and convention. Many different forms of expression were mixed and played with; realism, symbolism, irony, parody and self-reflective meta-theatricality. Both new and classical works were treated progressively more and more freely, playfully and sometimes even disrespectfully.
At the start of the 1990s, this style of directing emerged in The Ibsen Festival. An early example of this was the abstract-expressionist production of Rosmersholm by Freie Volksbühne Berlin, directed by Frank Hoffmann in 1991.
Norwegian reviewers had reservations about the performance. Danish theatre reviewer Mona Dithmer was, however, delighted, describing the performance as “the culmination of the festival with a profound ‘sweepstake’ ridding the stage of the debris of tradition, making the other performances seem more or less like puppet theatre” (Information 13.09.1991).
Skepticism towards the postmodern director's theatre
There has been a well established scepticism in Norway of post-modern direction and all that it entails such as textual deconstruction, ironization and playful treatment of classical plays and traditions.
The Hamlet production of Lithuanian director Eimuntas Nekrošius is a perfect example of this type of post-modern regietheater. This production, having been met with enthusiasm and success wherever it was shown throughout Europe, was more or less neglected by Norwegian reviewers at The Ibsen Festival in 1998.
One of the few critics that mentioned the performance was Aftenposten’s Elisabeth Rygg, who wrote: “A performance that left me feeling somewhat ambivalent,” continuing; “there were also strong reactions from the audience. Some were seduced; others felt provoked or simply fed up with all the fuss. Several people left in one of the two intervals. As one audience member put it; ‘this is Stein Winge 30 times over and more!’” (Aftenposten 05.09.1998)
This last quotation from the audience was probably not meant as praise. In the 1980s and 90s “Stein Winge” was to many theatre critics synonymous with “directorial pranks” – that is to say, they were viewed with suspicion and seen as something circumspect undesirable.
“Disrespect” and “cheek”
The production of Ghosts in 2000 from Volksbühne in Berlin directed by Sebastian Hartmann was given a lukewarm reception by critics, and drew only half-full houses. “In order to enjoy this modern version it is necessary to accept the premise behind the show. If you do, you end up with a brutal and funny mad-cap comedy, albeit somewhat long; drag a joke out too long and it will never be good enough,” wrote Elisabeth Rygg (Aftenposten 10.09.2000).
IdaLou Larsen also expressed ambivalence, noting: “It is a highly pessimistic interpretation, so extreme in form that it could scare off just as many people as it might delight. Meanwhile, it does show that if you approach the Ibsen tradition cheekily and disrespectfully enough, you can make him both relevant and uncomfortably threatening even today.” (Nationen 09.09.2000)
Without stating it directly, IdaLou Larsen pointed out that “disrespect” and “cheek” in relation to convention may be the way to go – even in Norway – if your intention is to make groundbreaking contemporary theatre out of Ibsen.
2004: German "regietheater"
The Ibsen Festival of 2004 brought something that could be characterized as a breakthrough for post-modern regietheater even in Norway. Many of that year’s productions came courtesy of key younger German directors, such as Nora from Schaubühne in Berlin directed by Thomas Ostermeier, Stephan Kimmig’s Nora from Thalia Theater in Hamburg and Sebastian Hartmann’s production of John Gabriel Borkman at The National Theater.
In addition, the festival included productions by, among others, the Frenchman Stéphane Braunschweig and American Lee Breuer. Norway was represented by directors such as Stein Winge, Eirik Stubø, Yngvor Sundvor and Runar Hodne. The festival program showed a strong emphasis on new, particularly German, regietheater.
Sebastian Hartmann's John Gabriel Borkman
Sebastian Hartmann’s production of John Gabriel Borkman using actors from The National Theater gained attention with its radical use of direction and effects. Live video was used extensively. Some scenes were performed off-stage, for example in the corridors of the theatre or outside the building itself, and were relayed to the audience via camera to on-stage screens.
The acting style was expressive throughout and at times loud and farcical, for example in a scene where Borkman (played by Jan Grønli) gets stuck in a piano and is slowly eaten by it, while the clerk Foldal (played by Trond Brænne) pathetically proclaims the tragedy of his life. Thus, direction and acting style both diverged from established norms.
The Norwegian actors seemed to feel comfortable in the animated modes of expression, and the audience – at least in part – and the reviewers reacted positively and with delight to the performance.
“This is well considered regietheater,” Andreas Wiese wrote in Dagbladet, “whether Borkman is eaten by his piano, the stolen Munch paintings make a cameo or ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ is sung and Growth of the Soil is read aloud, everything is a cohesive part of Hartmann’s stage universe. It is technically, artistically and visually impressive theatre.” (27.08.2004)
According to IdaLou Larsen, however, the production remained true to Ibsen: “His John Gabriel Borkman proudly and thoroughly remains a penetrating, non-judgmental, consistent reading of the text that is faithful to Ibsen.” (scenekunst.no 27.08.2004)
5 x Hedda Gabler
In 2006 the festival once again played host to a manifestation of post-modern directing style. A number of significant productions from European countries were in the line-up; among them a Polish production of The Lady from the Sea, directed by Robert Wilson, Hedda Gabler from Schaubühne in Berlin directed by Thomas Ostermeier, a Hedda Gabler-variation from Betty Nansen Teatret in Copenhagen directed by Peter Langdal, and many other foreign guest performances.
At the same time, this meant that that year’s festival could present a wide range of new Norwegian theatre of this type, with productions by Stein Winge, Eirik Stubø, Alexander Mørk-Eidem, Runar Hodne and director duo Toril Goksøyr and Camilla Martens, and others.
The Hedda Gabler productions attracted a lot of attention; there were five in all (two Norwegian and three from abroad). The two most popular versions that will probably in time be considered theatrically important from an historical perspective were Thomas Ostermeier’s production from Schaubühne in Berlin and Eirik Stubø’s production at The National Theater. Both productions presented the theme of personal and interpersonal distance by updating the environment, characterization and plot so that it could reflect contemporary Western life.
Hedda à la Ostermeier and Stubø
Ostermeier’s Hedda Gabler took place in a hypermodern minimalist home, shown from all angles by the use of large mirrors and an active use of a revolving stage. Hedda is trapped – by her own cowardice – in a modern, yet spiritually mediocre bourgeois environment, where everyone “just wants a big house and money, but has no grand ideas,” as Karin Haugen wrote in her review, referring to an interview with Thomas Ostermeier (Klassekampen 09.09.2006).
Ostermeier’s production was a contemporary relevant critique of bourgeois materialism and interpersonal stuntedness. Eirik Stubø’s production of Hedda Gabler also expressed distancing, but without the socio-political focus that could be found in Ostermeier’s production.
“The scenography heralds suppressed, destructive and tragic passion,” Elisabeth Leinslie wrote in Dagsavisen (27.08.2006). A bright red, abstract and claustrophobic room was Hedda’s symbolic prison, contrasting with a tapestry in the background showing a wild forest. The conflict between Hedda (Petronella Barker) and judge Brack (Bjørn Floberg) became the focus of a “life and death struggle” (Elisabeth Rygg, Aftenposten 27.08.2006).
“Brack sometimes almost becomes Hedda’s shadow,” Therese Bjørneboe wrote, “or like a symbol of the possibility that Hedda’s relationship with other people could become as stagnant and mechanical as his. To Floberg’s Brack, all interpersonal relationships are about selfish gain.” (Klassekampen 28.08.2006).
Stubø’s production showed that a Norwegian director – as in German regietheater – can be both willing and able to create a highly conceptualized Ibsen-production with a high level of artistic merit. “Under the leadership of Eirik Stubø, The National Theater has quickly become one of Europe’s leading theatres,” wrote Swedish theatre critic Leif Zern in Dagens Nyheter (30.08.2006) when reviewing Stubø’s production of Hedda Gabler.
And through The Ibsen Festival, The National Theater had become an important part of the development of contemporary European theatre.
The Ibsen Festival and the art of directing in Norway
The understanding and presentation of Ibsen in Norway was bound by convention and tradition throughout the 20th century. The text and how the actors interpret the characters have been the two main artistic building blocks in the Ibsen tradition. Instruction and direction have been considered to be of less importance; a sort of auxiliary aid compared to what was seen as most important; presenting the contents of the text and having the actors create credible (which is to say psychologically realistic) characters.
The demand for new directorial approaches, new ideas and concepts for interpreting and realizing Ibsen’s drama has not been strongly present in Norwegian theatre. Norwegian directors have typically had an acting background, and the art of directing has developed in close proximity with established acting traditions.
However, around 1970a new generation of less traditionally bound directors started making their mark, Edith Roger, Kjetil Bang-Hansen and Stein Winge being the three most important. They brought with them new ideas for and modes of direction that were more theatrical (and less faithful to the text). This was, for example, expressed in new, stylized stage settings in Ibsen performances, but also by the fact that these directors in different ways attempted to encourage new modes of acting.
Edith Roger, whose background was in dance and choreography, tried for example to work with actors in a more choreographic way; Stein Winge promoted greater physical and verbal expression, while Kjetil Bang-Hansen encouraged the actors to express themselves in a more poetic-gesticulative manner. Each in their own way sought to unravel the conventional psychological realist form.
Ibsen adaptations in the 1980s
The introduction of a new way of thinking in direction led to many innovative and interesting productions in the 1970s, both of Ibsen’s work and that of other playwrights. In the 80s however, the development of the Norwegian art of directing stagnated. Few new and younger directors were welcomed at institutional theatres and not a lot of innovation took place.
Typically, Ibsen productions in the 80s, like a lot of other contemporary drama, were composites of abstract and stylized stage settings and characterizations and acting in the traditional style of psychological realism. Few Ibsen productions in the 80s showed evidence of a more homogenous concept of direction or innovative interpretation.
Terje Mærli and the 1990s
One director who made an impact with Ibsen in the 1990s was Terje Mærli. With a number of productions in Norway and abroad (primarily Sweden), he has developed his own approach to Ibsen. Rather than making use of psychological subtext, typical of psychological realism, he seeks what he in several essays and program articles has termed the “overtext” of the actors.
This prescribes a more philosophical and rhetorical analysis of the text. And on the basis of such analyses, he has developed concepts of direction wherein he tries to steer the actors away from the psychological subtext rather than strive to find a common, universal denominator in the texts.
The Ibsen performances of Terje Mærli thus closely adhere to the text and interpret it, just as the style of psychological realism has always done. Mærli’s Ibsen productions in the 1990s were generally well received by Norwegian audiences. “A singular theatre experience,” Jan E. Hansen, for example, said of Mærli’s production of John Gabriel Borkman, which premiered at The Ibsen Festival in 1991 (Aftenposten 01.09.1991).
Dramaturgically speaking, Mærli had rejigged the text in the first two acts in order to get a clearer and more intense storyline, focusing on the power struggle between the three aging central characters, played by Wenche Foss, Per Sunderland and Ingerid Vardund.
The reception of Terje Mærli's works
In working with Ibsen’s drama, Mærli liked to significantly edit the texts in order to intensify the good – exciting – story. Meanwhile, Mærli’s concepts of direction allow for a more traditional psychological realist acting style.
This form of dramaturgy and direction can be found, for example, in his productions of Hedda Gabler at Länsteatern in Örebro, performed at The Ibsen Festival in 1992, Rosmersholm at The National Theater in 1998 and Ghosts at Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen, performed at The Ibsen Festival in 2000.
These were generally well received in Norway. NRKs radio critic Lisa Strindberg said of Ghosts in 2000 that the performance was met with “a standing ovation from a delighted audience.” She further mentioned that “Mærli’s Danish production of Ghosts has a striking dynamic. Through two breathtakingly tightly packed hours he takes us from the comically ridiculous to the devastatingly tragic” (NRK P2, Kulturnytt 08.09.2000).
Other reviews were also positive, though some pointed out the traditional aspect of the performance. Tron Øgrim, for example, wrote that “Mærli knows his Ibsen.” However, he added, “I realized after a while that I felt like I’d seen it before,” and “I’m left there looking at lovely details, revisiting an exciting but familiar story. What I found lacking in Mærli was something that would astonish.” (Klassekampen 12.09.2000).
Terje Mærli has always been a popular Ibsen director. However, his shows have always had a traditional slant, even though audiences and critics feel that he, through his direction, has shown Ibsen’s work in a new light, thanks to his intelligent interpretation and editing of the texts. Even though Mærli edits the texts, his direction is committed to being true to the text; another basic and enduring convention in the Norwegian Ibsen tradition. From this point of view, the text should be respected and interpreted as works with inherent meaning. The text must not, however, be re-written too much and should not be subject to too many heavy directorial touches.
In the 70s and 80s, Kjetil Bang-Hansen was known for his poetic-visual style of directing. Later in the 90s he became more conventional as far as textual adaptation and acting style were concerned. An example of this was his production of When We Dead Awaken in 1994.
Svenska Dagbladet’s reviewer Lars Ring wrote: “The decor is modernist, approaching German expressionism, while the acting is traditional in the extreme.” (Svenska Dagbladet 31.08.1994)
In Klassekampen, Tron Øgrim criticized the production as conventional and boring: “To me, this was terribly conventional theatre [...]. Technically skillfully done, by talented people [...] though [Kjetil Bang-Hansen] does new-fangled things [...] with his stage setting, for example, suddenly letting masked figures appear, etc., he lets the acting follow highly traditional Norwegian stage mannerisms.” (Klassekampen 28.08.1994)
During the 1980s, Stein Winge was known for his expressionist theatrical style, with dynamic placement of people, loud speech, a lot of physical contact and occasional physical altercation between characters.
The exalted and expressionist elements in Winge’s productions were often criticized for not being in line with the texts of the plays that were performed. It is, however, important to note that Winge’s on-stage expressionism is meant to convey his insistence on the artistic independence of theatre with regards to text. The at times violent expressionism in Winge’s direction opens new dimensions in Ibsen’s drama, and allows a new, unconventional acting style.
Winge’s production of The Wild Duck which premiered at The Ibsen Festival in 1991 was a huge success. Dagbladet reviewer Hans Rossiné, who often criticized the expressionist style of Stein Winge, gave a positive review, noting that the production “makes Ibsen’s realism more accessible – in no small part due to a style of acting which, unusually, makes use of the entire stage, creating new tensions between characters” (Dagbladet 30.08.1991).
The use of humour, exaggerated pathos and a blend of tragedy and comedy became the trademarks of Stein Winge’s Ibsen productions in the 1990s. In the review of An Enemy of the People at Dramaten in Stockholm, a production that also visited The Ibsen Festival in 1998, Hans Rossiné noted that there were fewer “hijinks” in this version than in Winge’s production of the same play at Det Norske Teatret in 1995.
Non-traditional Norwegian theatre
However, new attitudes were emerging in Norwegian theatre, and the view of direction was changing. These changes in attitude could be seen in the lineup for The Ibsen Festival in 1998, which featured several non-traditional Norwegian productions; for example the guest performance of Baktruppen’s Super-Per, Cecilie Løveid’s Østerrike directed by Jon Tombre, which was based on a blending of elements from Brand and the diaries of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Lille Eyolf & Co, where the text had been edited by Øyvind Berg.
Ole Anders Tandberg directed the Eyolf production at Torshovteatret, which featured among others actors Anne Marit Jacobsen, Gisken Armand and Trond Høvik from The National Theater. Øyvind Berg’s edit involved making his own additions to and comments on the text, many of them meta-textual in character, for example when The Rat Wife (Anne Marit Jacobsen) exclaims “Oh, Ibsen! He’s so Norwegian” during a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Allmers.
Such meta-commentary on the texts, the context of the performance and theatre history is typical of the post-modern style of directing which has become popular even in Norwegian Ibsen performances.
For example, in Sebastian Hartmann’s production of John Gabriel Borkman (2004), many such meta-theatrical comments were made; as when Erhart, played by Thorbjørn Harr, exclaims that he’s tired of playing this hundred year old Ibsen character, thus commenting on the Ibsen tradition.
Or in Alexander Mørk-Eidem’s Ghosts (2006), where the stage design by Olav Myrtvedt paraphrased the realistic set design of the play’s premiere at The National Theater in 1900. A picture of the old set design was projected onto the front curtains before the performance. Trond Brænne, who played Engstrand, explained after the curtains rose that this was stage painter Jens Wang’s design decorations for the premiere of Ghosts in 1900 at The National Theater. Meanwhile, Olav Myrtvedt’s stage setting retained a raw and constructivist copy of Wang’s design.
A new generation
A new generation of Norwegian directors has emerged since the 1990s, chief among them Yngve Sundvor, Jon Tombre, Ole Anders Tandberg, Eirik Stubø, Alexander Mørk-Eidem, Runar Hodne, and Victoria H. Meirik. All of them have directed Ibsen productions, many of which have been featured at The Ibsen Festival.
These directors come from different educational backgrounds, and differ greatly from one another artistically. Several have been inspired by new continental regietheater, and their style of directing is more conceptual than that of the older generation of Norwegian directors. This involves more intellectual and abstract modes of direction that often defy traditional psychological realist interpretation and have the director encourage the actors to seek out new, often more physical and gesticulative (projective) forms of expression.
Alexander Mørk-Eidem’s production of Ghosts in 2006, as previously mentioned, included a meta-theatrical concept based on the Ibsen tradition. The stage stetting had robbed the traditional Ibsen decor of all realistic details and turned it into a crude rehearsal space where “the actors are in character while simultaneously exploring their characters,” as Andreas Wiese wrote in Dagbladet (25.08.2006).
The meta-theatrical perspective was not only present in the stage setting, but also in the actors, who went in and out of character, made comments on the script and experimented with various ideas and expressions. “As a member of the audience, you don’t quite know what you’re experiencing,” Andreas Wiese concluded, “but you can feel the performance taking shape and moving you. It’s like a journey to the dark heart of Ibsen’s text.” (ibid.)
Therese Bjørneboe pointed out the significant use of references to theatre history in the production, while putting the production in a contemporary artistic context: “When performed on the main stage at The National Theater, it is [...] somewhat liberating to see a production of Ibsen with such clear ties to contemporary performing arts and painting. A line may also be drawn from Sebastian Hartmann’s John Gabriel Borkman, performed at the opening of The Ibsen Festival in 2004, to this year’s production of Ghosts, and we can identify a festival profile where Eirik Stubø is promoting a new generation of directors and new approaches to Ibsen. Neither Hartmann’s nor Mørk-Eidem’s productions are traditional interpretations, rather post-modern performances that challenge tradition and context.” (Klassekampen 26.08.2006)
Eirik Stubø and the 2000s
Several Norwegian Ibsen productions in the 2000s have been minimalist in style. This may be due to the influence of Jon Fosse’s drama, and the directing style which has developed from it.
In particular, Eirik Stubø’s productions of the works of Ibsen, Fosse and other playwrights have been characterized as minimalist by reviewers. There is a clear similarity between his productions of Fosse and Ibsen.
Swedish Leif Zern, for example, noted that Stubø’s Hedda Gabler “has qualities which bring to mind the musical touch he employed in his production of Jon Fosse’s Someone Is Going To Come at Riksteatern some years ago.” (Dagens Nyheter 30.08.2006).
Visually and in terms of direction, there were clear similarities between Stubø’s production of Fosse’s I Am The Wind (2007) and Rosmersholm, which premiered at The Ibsen Festival in 2008. Kari Gravklev’s stage design for Rosmersholm consisted of a huge, bare, dark room. The room was closed off at the back by a black wall with an opening in the middle, through which the characters could make their entrance, making deep spatial effects possible.
The stage opened up at the front via a set of stairs leading down into the orchestra pit, into and out of which characters could also appear and disappear. The lighting of lighting designer Ellen Ruge had an important effect on the scenography, in combination with elaborate use of stage smoke, allowing characters to appear or disappear out of a mysterious fog.
The acting style was minimalist, with characters arranged in static positions in a visual tableau. Meanwhile, communication of the text was clearly emphasized: “The actors mostly face the audience, rather than addressing their fellow actors,” Therese Bjørneboe wrote, continuing; “this highlights the thoughts behind the lines, and the solitary struggle each and every one of them is engaged in with themselves. Ibsen’s characters are in orbit around themselves, and in this performance they appear lonelier than ever.”
She ends with the following comment about the performance: “By stirring up convention, the Ibsen tradition is renewed – also in terms of acting traditions.” (Klassekampen 30.08.2008)
Changes in acting style
The psychological realist style of acting which has dominated Norwegian theatre can largely be considered as having developed through working continuously with Ibsen’s plays in the theatre. As such, this modern style of acting can be traced all the way back to the 1880s, where a number of Ibsen’s contemporary dramas were first performed and became an established part of the repertoire of Norwegian theatre institutions. It was not until the 1920s and 30s, however, that a completely psychological realist style of acting became the norm among Norwegian actors. The Ibsen tradition as it developed in Norwegian theatre in the first half of the 20th century was primarily an acting tradition.
Psychological realism and the dominance of actors was later cemented through Russian theatre coach Constantin Stanislavski’s methods for training actors, which were introduced to Norway via Statens Teaterhøgskole (The Norwegian State College of Theatre), established in 1953. Ever since, Norwegian actors have been trained using Stanislavski’s methods.
The psychological realist style of acting is characterized by the intensity of the acting. Inner psychological motivations and reactions should be made visible through the use of voice, body and gestures. The actor should develop his or her character from within, through identification, forming a homogenous, psychologically believable image. This acting style, closely linked to the understanding of Ibsen, has dominated Norwegian theatre throughout the 20th century.
A variety of acting traditions
However, a tradition of comedy acting also exists, one that is not bound by the demands for psychological intensity and individualization, but rather concerns itself with externalization and simplification. In the comedy style of acting, personality traits are isolated and exaggerated when expressed externally. To exaggerate somewhat, Norwegian acting traditions consist of serious and intense psychological realism at one end of the spectrum, and extroverted comedy acting on the other. When attempts have been made to break away from the rigid style of psychological realism, or vice versa in the case of comedy, it has been through varying and mixing these two main forms.
For example, attempts were made in the 1990s to break with the conventional psychological realist acting style through the use of comedic effects, exaggeration and caricature, or by externalizing the acting rather than intensifying it. Examples of this can be seen in the production of Terje Mærli and Stein Winge.
The many guest productions from abroad at The Ibsen Festival have showcased different ways of performing Ibsen. Psychological realism, the hitherto dominant style in Norway, is, however, not limited to Norway. This style has been dominant in European and American theatre and film throughout the 20th century.
Variations on psychological realism do exist however, and there are alternative ways to perform it. A more physically expressive acting style, for example, will emphasize external expression through gesticulation rather than psychological intensity, without turning the play into comedy or caricature. Many different schools of thought and direction exist in what has, in simple terms, become known as “physical theatre”. Such schools and direction are inspired, among others, by Russian Vsevolod Meyerhold, Polish Jerzy Grotowski and French Jacques Lecoq.
A brechtian style of acting
One of the most influential innovators in 20th century theatre in terms of dramaturgy and acting technique was the German Bertolt Brecht. Based on his theories and theatre experience, new acting styles have emerged. The Brecht style of acting is not psychological, like that of Stanislavski, nor explicitly physical like that of Lecoq; it is something in between. It is neither tragic nor comedic, but rather a blend.
Since the 1950s, Brecht’s ideas have been considerably influential in transforming theatre and acting styles both in and outside of Europe. This has led to the development of a new style of acting which is not psychologically introverted, but rather extroverted; directed towards the audience. In the Brecht style of acting, expression through language and gesture becomes a theatrical “text” for the audience to read and interpret.
As part of this new “external” acting style, which involves addressing the audience, switching between acting and non-acting has become more commonplace. This is also inspired by Brecht’s idea of Verfremdung or alienation in the theatre. This involves actors breaking out of character, commenting on it and possibly addressing the audience as themselves.
Hartmann's John Gabriel Borkman
The international exchange of guest productions at The Ibsen Festival, as well as the use of guest directors from abroad in Norwegian productions of Ibsen, has encouraged a dynamic development among Norwegian actors. A change in the traditional psychological realist style of acting seems to be occurring. This can be seen through the use of physical expression, a blend of psychological acting and comedy and Brecht-inspired alienation effects.
A striking example of this could be found in the The National Theater production of John Gabriel Borkman in 2004, directed by Sebastian Hartmann. Many critics praised the actors for their ability to switch between various modes of expression.
“All of Hartmann’s directorial efforts would have been in vain, had the actors not picked up on his intentions,” Liv Riiser wrote in Vårt Land, continuing: “The acting of Jan Grønli (Borkman), Frøydis Armand (Mrs. Borkman), Anne Krigsvoll (Ella Rentheim) and Thorbjørn Harr (Erhart Borkman) is intense and effortless, both on stage and on camera, and they seem to highly enjoy the expressive interpretation of Ibsen.” (28.08.2004) There was a lot of Brecht to be found in Hartmann’s direction, and the Norwegian actors convincingly took to the direction, which diverged from the Norwegian tradition in many ways.
Eirik Stubø's stylizing
Another example of changes to the acting style can be seen in the productions of Eirik Stubø, for example Hedda Gabler(2006) and Rosmersholm (2008). However, this no longer leans towards extroverted expressionism and the use of comedy; this is about stylizing, where internal psychological motivation is not expressed in a traditional realist acting style, but rather through a static recital of the text.
And yet, the internal psychological-spiritual space remains and is uniquely strengthened though the placing of actors in visual tableaux that communicate meaning. The unity of vocal and body language, the basis of the psychological realist acting style, is dissolved. The psychological intimacy of the voice is strengthened through the use of lapel microphones, while the bodies of the actors become part of the visual stage setting. This separation of effects in the actor’s expression can also be traced back to Brecht’s theories.
Through the exchange between German and Norwegian theatre, which was strengthened during Eirik Stubø’s reign at The National Theater, Brecht’s influence can once again be seen in Norwegian theatre, though it lacks the political motivations of the 60s and 70s when Brecht was last popular. The emphasis is now on Brecht’s theatrical teachings, expressed in new styles of directing and the search for new styles of acting.
This influence may be temporary, but there are strong indications that Norwegian theatre institutions and the Norwegian style of acting is moving towards a post-modern and post-psychological realistic arena, where a lot of German and European regietheater has existed since the 1990s. Here, no particular mode of expression or textual interpretation is proscribed or the norm.
Individual theatre productions are works of art in their own right; the acting style and mode of expression developed by the actors to fit each individual production. Actors can no longer rely on one single acting technique – that of the psychological realistic style – but have to work with several different modes of expression and develop new ones.
The Ibsen Festival – a summary
The Ibsen Festival has not just been about Ibsen productions from Norway and abroad; it has also played host to a number of auxiliary events. For example, symposiums and academic conferences have often been organized in connection with the festival. Several different Ibsen-related concerts and exhibitions have been arranged. The Ibsen Relay Race has been an important satellite event, organized in cooperation with the Municipality of Skien since 1996. Students in upper secondary schools throughout the country have been challenged to put on productions inspired by Ibsen. The relay race begins with local recruitment leading to a semi-final in Skien, and finally performances of the finalist productions at TheNational Theater. It has not been possible to cover these and many other “extras” in connection with The Ibsen Festival in this article. However, the broad spectrum of different events during and in connection with The Ibsen Festival shows the continued relevance of Ibsen in contemporary culture.
The Ibsen Festival has always attracted a large audience as well as a lot of media attention, not just from the Norwegian media, but also internationally. The Norwegian media unanimously declared the first two festivals in 1990 and 1991 huge successes. It was generally felt that an international Ibsen festival, in Norway and organized by The National Theater, should be held as a matter of course. This has also been the view of The National Theater. Over 20 years and with 11 festivals, The Ibsen Festival has become an important tool for the artistic profiling of The National Theater. Through Ibsen, the theatre has been established as firmly rooted in European theatre tradition, while simultaneously using Ibsen to develop a clear contemporary profile.
Internationally, interest in Ibsen has increased between 1990 and 2010. Many non-European countries that have not gone through the same, slow march towards modernization as the West have taken a leap towards modernization since the beginning of the 90s – for example, China or Muslim countries that are caught between traditionalism and modern society. In this context, Ibsen becomes a highly relevant and topical playwright, as he can easily be used to express key issues in the tension between tradition and modernization. Even in thoroughly modern western societies, Ibsen’s dramas, written in an early phase of modernization, can still seem relevant. This is both in relation to a cultural mindset regarding basic interpersonal issues in modern bourgeois society, issues that have become relevant once again both in eastern and western Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and in relation to the search for new and relevant contemporary modes of expression in post-modern European theatre. The manifold realism of Ibsen seems to be an interesting challenge for post-modern theatre.
In an effort to keep The Ibsen Festival in line with current issues, a running theatre and Ibsen debate has been organized since the establishment of the festival in 1990. This debate has, among other things, covered the festival line-up, which has been criticized for not sufficiently representing the interpretation of Ibsen in a number of countries, and also for being random or lacking in artistic foundation. Another debate has covered whether The Ibsen Festival has been an expression of, or an obstacle to, the development of contemporary drama and theatre.
Criticism and an ongoing theatrical debate are important to the development of theatre. The artistic profile of The Ibsen Festival has, throughout this running dialog with the theatre public in Norway, been steered in the direction of relevance to contemporary society; a necessary move for the theatre. The festival in 1998 showed a stronger emphasis on non-traditional and experimental Ibsen projects, while productions of non-Ibsen drama became part of the festival. The festival organizers thereby showed an artistic way of thinking expanding the scope of the festival from Ibsen in the strictest sense to Ibsen as a source of inspiration for new drama and new theatre. The Contemporary Stage Festival, organized by the National Theatre for the first time in 2001 and continued in collaboration with Det Norske Teatret in 2005 to alternate with The Ibsen Festival, could also be seen as an expression of a strengthened emphasis on the contemporary, which has come about as a result of The Ibsen Festival.
A third topic for discussion for The Ibsen Festival has been the artistic freedom of the theatre, in particular that of the directors, with regard to Ibsen’s texts. On the one hand, there have always been critics who claim that Ibsen’s texts should be adhered to as closely as possible. From this point of view, theatre performers should strive to realize Ibsen’s intentions for his plays as written in the texts. On the other hand, there are those who see theatre as an art form bound by time. According to this point of view, older and historical plays must always be rephrased and transformed in accordance with contemporary theatre and the societal context. By breaking free from older theatre conventions and updating contemporary contexts, the historical theatre texts can be integrated into contemporary theatre. Thus European theatre traditions contain a tension between the history of the original play and the contemporary context in which the texts are realized as performed as theatre. And this is how a tradition, such as the Ibsen tradition, can actually be kept alive through breaking free from convention and adapting to contemporary society. Throughout the 20th century, regietheater has developed as an interpretive performing art, where text and theatre become part of a dynamic relationship, and where theatre textual conventions are continuously breached by bringing the text up to date. If theatre did not concern itself with renewal and updating, it would stagnate, becoming a re-enacted museum piece. This goes against the basic nature of the theatre as a living, contemporary based art form.
Through 20 years of diverse productions from a number of countries, The Ibsen Festival has made clear the importance of a strong art of directing in preserving the Ibsen tradition and renewing contemporary and future theatre. It is hard to tell how the performance of Ibsen in Norwegian theatre will develop in future. It is quite likely, however, that in recent years, thanks in part to The Ibsen Festival, a new openness and creative exchange has developed between directors and actors. It is generally understood that a strong and creative art of directing is at least as important as good actors, and that the interaction between these two aspects - and all the aspects of theatre; scenographers, musicians, dramaturgists, and of course the audience – is the medium through which new and exciting performing arts can be developed, and this also applies to Ibsen.
 I have, for example, mentioned this in my thesis Realisme, symbol og psykologi. Norsk Ibsentradition belyst gennem udvalgte forestillinger på Nationaltheatret 1899–1940, Universitetet i Bergen 2000, and in an ongoing research project intended to shed light on the Ibsen tradition in Norwegian theatre in the period between 1850 and 2010.
 See, for example, Terje Mærli (1991), "Fra tekst til handling – om regiproblemer i norsk Ibsentradisjon" in Helge Reistad, Regikunst, Asker, Tell forlag or Terje Mærli, "Arbeid med Ibsen", www.ibsen.net: Liv og verk: Fordypningsartikler: En scenekunstners arbeid med Ibsen.