From left: Tuomas Hiltunen, Alex Organ, Blake Hackler, Clare Shaffer, Mark Lowry and Joanie Schultz

Podcast: Why Ibsen Now?

Theatermakers Joanie Schultz, Clare Shaffer, Blake Hackler, and Alex Organ, along with Fort Worth Opera General Director Tuomas Hiltunen, discuss Ibsen.

published Thursday, October 25, 2018

Photo: Michael Warner
From left: Tuomas Hiltunen, Alex Organ, Blake Hackler, Clare Shaffer, Mark Lowry and Joanie Schultz


Dallas — TheaterJones is finally back with our second theater podcast (the first was here, one year ago), and we now have a name for it: Up is Down, Left is Right.

Because in theater, things aren't always what they seem.

For this first official episode of Up is Down, Left is Right, we discuss Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. We realize that last year's episode was about Chekhov, and we promise that future episodes of the podcast won't focus on canonical Western playwrights (although we'll have to fit Willy Shakes in at some point).

We will look at issues of representation, diversity, equity; of practice, safe places, design, performance, administration, community engagement, education, special needs outreach, the media, and other topics of interest to our theater readership.

Ibsen made sense because at this moment in time, his work is all over North Texas stages.

In June, Blake Hackler adapted An Enemy of the People as Enemies/People for Second Thought Theatre. That play, along with Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Jarry's Ubu Roi, and Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, among others, is particularly relevant in Trump's America.

A few weeks ago, WaterTower Theatre's season opened with Joanie Schultz's new adaptation of A Doll's House (read our review here). That overlaps with the Ibsen-adjacent regional premiere of Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2, at Stage West, which opens this weekend (that play happens to be the most-produced play at American professional theaters this season). And in November, Hackler directs Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea at Undermain Theatre.

In September Mark Lowry sat down with a panel of local theatermakers and Ibsen experts to discuss the father of modern drama.

The panel features: Blake Hackler, who is also on faculty at Southern Methodist University and teaches a graduate class on Ibsen; Joanie Schultz, artistic director at WaterTower Theatre; Alex Organ, artistic director of Second Thought Theatre who played Thomas in Hackler's Enemies/People; Clare Shaffer, who just relocated to DFW from Washington, D.C., and directs A Doll's House, Part 2; and Tuomas Hiltunen, General Director of the Fort Worth Opera, who is Finnish and has taught Ibsen (and Strindberg) at Barnard College in New York.

In this hourlong podcast, the panel discusses politics, feminism and A Doll's House's Nora as written by Ibsen and reimagined by Hnath; the plays An Enemy of the People and The Lady from the Sea; and Hackler reminds us of the Comden/Green/Larry Grossman musical flop A Doll's Life (five performances on Broadway in 1982), which was also a sequel to A Doll's House. Stick around to the very end of this podcast to hear a snippet from it.

As for chances to see the productions discussed: WaterTower's A Doll's House runs through Nov`. 4 and Stage West's A Doll's House, Part 2 opens Saturday, Oct. 27 and runs through Nov. 25. You can spend a day with Nora, in both plays, on Saturday, Nov. 3, with the WaterTower matinee at 2 p.m. and the Stage West performance at 8 p.m. On Nov. 17, the WaterTower cast will travel to Fort Worth to join the cast of A Doll’s House, Part 2 in a discussion following the 8 p.m. performance.

Undermain's The Lady from the Sea runs Nov. 7 to Dec. 2.

The 2019 seasons for Second Thought Theatre and Fort Worth Opera don't feature Ibsen (yes, there are operas of Ibsen's plays), but you can learn more about STT's season here, and Fort Worth Opera's festival season—which includes a world premiere and the first time FWO has programmed a mainstage production of an opera by a woman composerhere.

Listen to the Ibsen podcast in the player below. (You might have to adjust your volume levels.)




» You can also listen to the podcast on TheaterJones' SoundCloud channel.


» Special thanks to Southern Methodist University, which let us use a room in the Hamon
Arts Library
to record this podcast. Thanks For Reading

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Podcast: Why Ibsen Now?
Theatermakers Joanie Schultz, Clare Shaffer, Blake Hackler, and Alex Organ, along with Fort Worth Opera General Director Tuomas Hiltunen, discuss Ibsen.
by Mark Lowry

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