Happy International Women's Day! I've seen some amazing articles, Facebook posts, red lipstick and quotation necklaces today, and I was lucky enough to get to see the last show of "Hedda Gabler"'s run at Northern Stage tonight.
When I saw "Dr. Frankenstein" last week (sitting in the same seat as tonight's show) I went into it knowing the original text. I knew what themes to expect, and how to recognise subverted ones. But tonight, I knew nothing about the play. And I found it to be a fascinating piece of theatre that I will be thinking about for a long time. Hedda is a former wild child; a gun-wielding party-thrower used to having power and commanding attention...now recently married to a man who can only be described as a nerd, and dodging hints about soon becoming pregnant. She collides with a past lover (a former alcoholic full of grand ideas), his new "friend" (a woman who has left her own husband, striking out as an academic herself), and a judge (who manipulates everyone, Littlefinger-style, from beneath a grandfatherly exterior), and realises that, if she does not act soon, she will be left behind as others braver than herself take the place she wants for herself in the world.
The play itself was brilliant to watch. In particular, Hedda's former flame Lövborg (played by Scott Turnbull) is magnetic; a snarling, damaged rockstar of the academic world, striding across tables, all wild gestures and sarcastic smirks. I will admit, I fell in love, just a little bit.
What I loved about both plays was that, while they were undoubtedly feminist, the protagonists were not "I am woman, hear me roar" stereotypes. They were selfish, manipulative, intelligent, wilful, vulnerable - in short, they were interesting characters; women who were fighting against the expectations of those around her, and the roles they are "supposed" to fit into - even if the only other option is their own destruction. As Hedda's final lines themselves say;
"People don't do such things--"
"Shut the fuck up."
Musings on my life as a writer.