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OCTOBER 22, 2014

Miami Theater Center launches season with Hedda Gabler adaptation

WSVN - TV 7

The center's modern new production of the play suggests that the unhappily married woman is the original Desperate Housewife.

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (WSVN) — Celebrating its upcoming 10th Anniversary, the Miami Theater Center is launching its new season with a fresh, provocative adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s theater classic, “Hedda Gabler.”

The center’s modern new production of the play suggests that the unhappily married woman is the original Desperate Housewife. “We’re trying very hard to create a Hedda that people can empathize with because it’s very easy for people to see Hedda and say she’s just crazy,” said Stephanie Ansin, the director of Hedda Gabler.

Hedda’s married to a good man, and they have just returned from their six-month honeymoon. She realizes she’s pregnant but doesn’t want the baby or the marriage.

Then, to top it off, her former lover– a dysfunctional, alcoholic writer reappears in her life. “Hedda is a woman who was in love with a dysfunctional alcoholic that she chose not to be with. She knew that wasn’t the life she wanted,” said Ansin, “so she married somebody who is more stable and can take care of her. She didn’t really love him, and she always had that in the back of her mind.”

“She’s a trapped animal,” said Jessica Farr, who plays Hedda Gabler. “She’s trying to claw her way out, if you will, using whatever feminine wiles and otherwise that she can.”

For Hedda, seeing her former lover with his new love pushes her to the edge of sanity. “She likes to control others, and once she does, it kind of backfires because she is disgusted by them,” said Farr. “She just tries to have purpose, some kind of purpose in her life.”

The set itself also plays a big role in the production. Hedda Gabler, which was originally published in 1890, arrives in present day South Florida with a sleek Miami design, which also sets the scene for Hedda’s life and tragic end.

The set not only confines Hedda but also exposes her. In fact, Farr doesn’t leave the stage at any point of the play, only enhancing the feeling of her claustrophobia, which is exactly what the set designer was looking for. “We’re inviting the audience to say, ‘Come in with me, and let’s be partners in this creation,’ rather than, ‘Sit out there and watch when I’m presenting,'” said set, lighting and costume designer Fernando Calzadilla.

Hedda Gabler opens to a sold-out house on Saturday, Oct. 25 and will run through Nov. 16. Tickets are still available for previews this Thursday and Friday.