POST: 'Hedda Gabler' - as inspiring as she is, she's also terrifying
What's it about?
All work and no play make Hedda a bored girl.
What'd I experience?
Ophelia Theatre - another place I had no clue existed. Unholy hell, was it hard to find this place - it's a bit of a hole in the wall. But definitely a hole worth crawling into.
*I thought it’s worth suggesting to Brooklyn(-ers?) Taking the L (or whatever is around you) to 14th-Union and transferring the N is way more reliable that taking any other other Google suggestion. Unless you’re about that bus life.*
So, the theatre itself has to be entered through a school garage. And then you see this:
Or maybe not, dude. I don’t know. This was my first time here. Walk through the row of school buses and then finally an open door appears - ironically with a white sheet of paper that says “All doors must be closed at all times.” I’m still unsure of why exactly there is a gym (with basketball practice going on in it) next to the theatre, but thankfully it didn’t end up being overly noisy or anything. The stage area itself was in a sort of warehouse-type thing. I am making this all sound way sketchier than it was. This is definitely the first time I have ever seen the ‘bar’ inside the theatre area itself, they're usually located in the lobby or near the back office. It’s also the first time I have ever seen the bartender sit down the entire performance. Job perks, I guess.
Hedda Gabler is probably the last person anyone would ever want to compare themselves to...except for me. Well kind of. Hedda is a headstrong women, no surprise since she had a General for a father. I can only imagine how much of a hardass he must of been, since Hedda is pretty tactical herself.
Even though this could all come off as way too psychological and analytical and school-esque... I couldn't help but remember something really interesting about the relationships in this play. One of my favorite classes in school is my 19th Century Russian Lit class. We mainly focus of the concept of love and all things that related to the human interaction with love.
Here it comes: So, the slave/master dialect concept immediately came to mind when I saw the way Hedda treats those around her. The really deep truth is that Hedda is a bored rich girl who wants to cause some chaos. Since Hedda came from wealth and an independent life, getting married (to someone she considered a second choice) and on top of that having to take on the role of a wife and soon-to-be mum, if absolutely suffocating her. Since the play takes place in the late 1800’s, it’s pretty clear that being a smart women isn’t something the time was comfortable with.
Hedda is everything a women shouldn’t be, but just as inspiring as she is, she is also terrifying all the same. Like I mentioned before, she is bored out of her mind in a marriage of convenience with a load of time on her hands. Ok - just a little more... In the master/slave dynamic, the master is someone who doesn’t need to call for attention - their existence itself demands the attention w/o effort. While both parties are seeking recognition, the slave seeks the recognition from the master, while the master wants to be recognized by the slave as more powerful. Even though both parties seek recognition, the catch is it has to be from one another. So, a slave (no matter how much better of a choice they may be) can never provide ‘genuine’ recognition to another slave.
In Hedda’s marriage, she is the master. She manipulates and molds her husband - Jørgen Tesman - to cover her dissatisfaction with what her life has become. Her husband, taking on the role of a slave, craved attention and affection from Hedda, but unfortunately for him Hedda is a slave to someone else - Eilert Lövborg. Lövborg is an old childhood friend of Hedda - someone who knew her before being tainted by marriage - and also a man who was irrevocably in love with Hebba. Though Hedda seems to have (or still may) reciprocate the feelings, she is far too concerned with what people think of her to run any risks. Now, seeing that Lövborg has found incredible success with his new novel, Hedda’s little crush seems to bloom once again. Hedda is used to being in the position of a master, but Lövborg’s presence offsets the balance she desperately tries to keep. In their relationship - much to her reluctance - she is a slave.
Throughout the play, I see Hedda try to keep her shit together. This was the part from which I’d like to think I stopped comparing myself to Hebba, but….yeah. Seeing that she is slowly losing control over the distraction that Lövborg has brought on from thrusting herself into her life again, Hebba starts to meticulously manipulate anyone she can get her hands on. Husband, ‘friends’, not friends, and most importantly Lövborg. Though never at Hedda’s level, I’ve noticed (more so in my past) that whenever I felt even the slightest loss of control over my life I would immediately disconnect and guard myself. I get Hedda’s instinctual reaction to protect herself from any potential destruction. But Hebba decided to make a game of people’s realities for her own personal entertainment. As sick as her manipulation gets, I kept hearing “she’s her father’s daughter” over and over in my head. Hedda would always acknowledge herself as her father’s daughter - she would never resume the role of anything other than that. Not her husband’s wife, not her child’s mother, and never admit to being Lövborg’s slave.