The Lady from the Sea

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The Lady from the Sea
Fruen fra havet by A. Golovin 01.jpg
Written byHenrik Ibsen
CharactersEllida Wangel
Dr Wangel
The Stranger
Hilde Wangel
Bolette Wangel
Arnholm
Lyngstrand
Ballestad
Date premiered12 February 1889
Place premieredKristiania and Weimar (simultaneous Norwegian and German premieres)
Original languageDanish
SubjectMarriage, freedom
GenreDrama
SettingA town by a fjord

The Lady from the Sea (Norwegian: Fruen fra havet) is a play written in 1888 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen inspired by the ballad Agnete og Havmanden.[1] The drama is notable in the Ibsen corpus for introducing the portrayal of Hilde Wangel who is again portrayed in Ibsen's later play The Master Builder. The character portrayal of Hilde Wangel has been portrayed twice in contemporary film as a culturally relevant portrayal, most recently in the 2014 film titled A Master Builder.

Characters[edit]

  • Doctor Edvard Wangel
  • Ellida Wangel, his second wife
  • Bolette, his elder daughter from a previous marriage
  • Hilda, his youngest daughter from a previous marriage
  • Lyngstrand, a dying artist and friend of the Wangels
  • Arnholm, Bollette's former tutor and possible suitor
  • Ballestad, a painter and friend of the Wangels
  • The Stranger, a man who Ellida has a history with and the antagonist

Synopsis[edit]

This symbolic play is centred on a lady called Ellida. She is the daughter of a lighthouse-keeper, and grew up where the fjord met the open sea; she loves the sea. She is married to Doctor Wangel, a doctor in a small town in West Norway (in the mountains). He has two daughters (Bolette and Hilde) by his previous wife, now deceased. He and Ellida have a son who dies as a baby, which puts a big strain on their marriage. Wangel, fearing for Ellida’s mental health, has invited up Arnholm, Bolette’s former tutor and now the headmaster of a school in hope that he can help Ellida. However, Arnholm thinks that it is Bolette waiting for him and he proposes. She agrees to marry her former teacher because she sees this as her only opportunity to get out into the world.

Some years earlier Ellida was deeply in love and engaged to a sailor, but because he murdered his captain he had to escape. Nevertheless, he asked her to wait for him to come and fetch her. She tried to break the engagement, but he had too great a hold over her. The sailor then returns all these years later to claim her. Ellida then has to choose between her former lover or her husband. Dr Wangel finally recognizes her freedom to choose since he understands that he has no other options. This goes in his favour as she then chooses him. The play ends with the sailor leaving and Ellida and Wangel taking up their lives again together.

Production history[edit]

  • 1973: The New York Repertory Company performed The Lady from the Sea at the Gotham Arts Centre in New York City. Robert Kalfin directed.[2]
  • 1977: The Birmingham Repertory Theatre in Birmingham, England starring Rosemary McHale as Ellida[3]
  • 1979: Vanessa Redgrave starred in Michael Elliott's production with the Royal Exchange Theatre Company at The New Roundhouse in London, England[4]
  • 1988: Stan Wojewodski directed The Lady from the Sea at Centre Stage in Baltimore, Maryland starring Laila Robins as Ellida[5]
  • 1990: At the Münicher Kammerspiele Schauspielhaus in Munich, directed by Thomas Langhoff[6]
  • 1990: Svein Sturle Hungnes directed at Oslo's National Theatre[7]
  • 1996: Jackson Phippin directed The Lady from the Sea at the Cleveland Playhouse with Kate Skinner as Ellida[8]
  • 2002: Directed by Alfred Christie at the Century Centre for Performing Arts[9]
  • 2001: At the Intiman Theatre in Seattle, adapted by Jim Lewis and directed by Kate Whoriskey[10]
  • 2006: As part of the Spring 2006 season, Sara Cronberg directed The Lady from the Sea at The Municipal Theatre (Stadsteater) in Stockholm, Sweden[11]
  • 2015: At the Shaw Festival The Lady from the Sea was directed by Erin Shields with Moya O’Connell as Ellida[12]

Adaptations[edit]

  • Kvinnan från havet (The Woman from the Sea) is a ballet by choreographer Birgit Cullberg, and based on Ibsen's play. The ballet was premiered at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, with ballerina and actress Kari Sylwan in the title role.
  • Sounding, a mixed-media performance adaptation of The Lady from the Sea, was performed at the HERE Arts Centre in New York City as part of HERE's annual CULTUREMART.[13]
  • Vom Meer. Opera with music by Alexander Muno and a libretto by Francis Hüsers. World premiere: 29 April 2011, Opernzelt, Heidelberg
  • The Lady from the Sea. Opera by Craig Armstrong (music) and Zoë Strachan (libretto). World premiere: 29 August 2012, Edinburgh International Festival
  • The Lady from the Sea, a BBC Radio 3 adaptation by Frank McGuinness and starring Lia Williams as Ellida, originally broadcast on 1 November 2009 and re-broadcast on 3 May 2015.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Per Schelde Jacobsen and Barbara Fass Leavy, Ibsen's Forsaken Merman: Folklore in the Late Plays (New York: New York University Press, 1988).
  2. ^ Blake, Gary (1974). "Review of The Lady from the Sea". Educational Theatre Journal. 26 (1): 117. doi:10.2307/3206592. ISSN 0013-1989 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ Nigro, Kirsten F. (1978). "Review of Metamorphosis, , ; The Lady from the Sea, ; Filumena". Educational Theatre Journal. 30 (2): 262–263. doi:10.2307/3206303. ISSN 0013-1989 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ Thomas, James (1979). "Review of The Lady from the Sea, ; Happy Days". Theatre Journal. 31 (4): 542. doi:10.2307/3219425. ISSN 0192-2882 – via JSTOR.
  5. ^ Ganz, Dianne; Scheper, George (1988). "Review of THE LADY FROM THE SEA. CENTER STAGE". Ibsen News and Comment. 9: 24–27. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  6. ^ Carlson, Marvin (1990). "Review of The Lady from the Sea". Theatre Journal. 42 (3): 383. doi:10.2307/3208094. ISSN 0192-2882 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ Shafer, Yvonne (1991). "An Erotic "The Lady from the Sea" at the First International Ibsen Festival, Oslo, September 1990". Ibsen News and Comment. 12: 21. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  8. ^ Nadon, Daniel R. (1997). "Review of In Ellida's Mind: "The Lady from the Sea". The Cleveland Playhouse". Ibsen News and Comment. 17: 8–9. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  9. ^ McLean, Robert Simpson (2000). "Review of Solid Revivals of "The Wild Duck" and "The Lady from the Sea". The Century Center for the Performing Arts". Ibsen News and Comment. 20: 24–25. ISSN 1089-6171.
  10. ^ May, Gergana (2001). "Review of An Ambiguous Lady from the Sea. Intiman Theatre". Ibsen News and Comment. 21: 15–16. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  11. ^ Wright, Rochelle (2006). "Review of John Gabriel Borkman. The Royal Dramatic Theater; The Lady from the Sea. The Municipal Theatre". Ibsen News and Comment. 26: 23–25. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  12. ^ Dolgin, Ellen (2015). "Review of The Lady from the Sea. The Shaw Festival". Ibsen News and Comment. 35: 34–36. doi:10.2307/26575980. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  13. ^ Carlson, Marvin (2009). "Review of Sounding (Mixed-media performance based on The Lady from the Sea)". Ibsen News and Comment. 29: 7. doi:10.2307/26573547. ISSN 1089-6171 – via JSTOR.
  14. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nkx97#auto

External links[edit]