Q&A: Hedda Gabler

Cara Ricketts talks about playing Ibsen's famous anti-heroine

Presented by Necessary Angel in association with Canadian Stage
Written by Henrik Ibsen
Adapted by Robin Baitz
Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Cara Ricketts as Hedda Gabler. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

This season, Necessary Angel and Canadian Stage present a modern adaptation of Ibsen's popular Hedda Gabler starring Cara Ricketts in the title role. Directed by Jenniver Tarver (Venus In Fur), the enduring drama, currently on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre, tells the story of a woman determined to live by her own rules.

Here, Ricketts talks about her experience working on the show.

Theatromania: Tell us about Jennifer Tarver’s production of Hedda Gabler. How would you describe this piece in a few sentences?

CR: It is a play about our own entrapments through expections placed on ourselves but also by others. That includes the potential of what we and what society could be if we were to push the envelope but also how we are boxed by the idea of manners and rules that have been set from the past. Also the necessity for those rules but the hope and potential that comes forth from people who break them. Hedda is trapped by the life she expected to lead—that of a person high in society, but after her father’s passing and a loss of money (the only things her father leaves her are a piano and pistols), Hedda makes due with a man lower in the social caste (George Tesman).

Meanwhile Tesman has fulfilled his part by raising himself up to a Doctorate in his field of study and is working hard to fulfill his side of the bargain he made with Hedda. He earns enough money to live lavishly and have parties. Tesman also has to meet his Aunt Julia’s expectation of solidifying his (and hers, by default) new position in society by getting Hedda pregnant and having children with high status in their blood. That’s why he keeps mentioning the promise of how Hedda has filled out but there is no real proof that Hedda is with child. As Hedda tries her best to live in what feels like her own hell, we see her constantly readjust in order to survive.

Theatromania: You play the title role. How did you prepare for this famous part and can you relate to the character at all?

CR: Hedda is relatable. She suffers from settling or selling out and she regrets it. She regrets it most when Eilert Lovborg shows up and reminds her of what they both were. Preparing for the role was the most fun, reading essays and different adaptaions of the script. I even ran some of Ibsen’s text through Google Translate. I enjoy the hunt of trying to understand the mystery of the text and there is a lot to mine when it comes to classical pieces.

Theatromania: Ibsen’s play explores the narcissistic side of humanity, which seems especially relevant in today’s social media-obsessed culture. Why do you think this story continues to strike a chord with modern audiences?

CR: I don’t really think of it as the narcissistic side, but I guess that is true. It does deal with Ego a great deal. That is what makes the story universal, the question of when is it useful to pay attention to the Ego and when we should let go is a question we deal with as human beings.

Theatromania: What have you learned from this experience so far?

CR: That I really enjoy Ibsen. I appreciate the asking of big questions and daring to make a statement about them, but not making it a clear black and white statement. It’s more of an exploration. I’ve also learned that when a character is loved as much as Hedda is it’s hard to present her with out people forcing their own expectations of what she should beI like to think Ibsen gets a chuckle at that happening. This character that he created who does the very thing that “people don’t do” has expectations from the very audience that loves her. Ha!

Theatromania: What’s next for you?

CR: Nothing that I can really mention just yet. I can say that I’m in Ubisoft’s Far Cry Primal that will be coming out in February and I’m super excited to play it!

See Cara Rickets in Hedda Gabler, on stage until February 7, 2016 at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Viist canadianstage.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2016-01-12 - Sun, 2016-02-07


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