Briefly outline your casting ideas for the roles of Hedda and Ejlert Lï¿½vborg and then explain how you would direct your actors, in the scenes in which they appear together, in order to reveal their complex feelings for one another.
As a director I would direct this play to have a naturalistic style. The play should be as though the audience were watching a small slice of the lives being lived in the Tesman house. Therefore I would use realistic furnishings.
For the role of Hedda Gabler I would cast an actor able to show military inheritance through stature, bearing and voice. Hedda would have perfect, aristocratic posture, an air of arrogance and power, and a strong, manipulating voice. As written in the stage directions, the actor would be a “lady of 29” or thereabouts. She would be tall and slim; have “steel grey” eyes, and “medium brown” hair, “not particularly ample,” which would be put up in a loose bun. Hedda would wear dark coloured satin dresses. She would speak with a slow pace and leave pauses, so as to keep the other characters waiting on her words. Her wit would be dry.
The actor who would play Ejlert Lï¿½vborg would be 33 years old. He would be quite slim, with short dark hair, bright green eyes, and a short beard. He would be dressed in a dark, fitting, three piece suit, “quite new,” with a matching top hat. He would be pale, with definitive cheekbones. He would have fast paced delivery of lines and a low pitch. His most prized possession would be the manuscript for his new book, which is his ‘child’ with Thea Elvsted.
As a rehearsal process I would ask the actors to write down their previous relationship before the actual written play starts. I would ask them to improvise scenes which are linked with there previous lives. For example when Hedda was about to shoot Ejlert when they were younger. I would also ask the actors to write their biography for their characters.
During Act two where Hedda and Lï¿½vborg first meet in the play, Lï¿½vborg “seems a little embarrassed.” I would direct the actor playing Hedda to show her boredom with Brack and Tesman just before Lï¿½vborg enters. When Lï¿½vborg comes in, Hedda’s change in mood would be sudden, her eyes would light up and her body language would show excitement. Hedda would be stimulated by the situation unfolding before her. When Thea arrives she will be able to play. As Hedda takes the album from the desk, I would direct the actor to not look at Lï¿½vborg but at Brack and Tesman. As she sits Lï¿½vborg would move closer and take a seat next to her, “not once” taking “his eyes off her.” Then whispering to her, “Hedda…Gabler.” His expression would show that he is still in love with her. As Hedda’s next line, “Now! Sh!” would be said with a smile, she’s happy she still has a hold over him and she can manipulate him. We see how Lï¿½vborg is still infatuated with her as he is disgusted with Hedda that she has thrown herself “away like that.” He also calls her “dearest Hedda” and “darling Hedda,” the actor would show how he wishes the best for her, and his desire to be loved by Hedda.
When Mrs. Elvsted enters Hedda will be happy as she is now able to see how her actions will affect people’s lives. Although she doesn’t quite expect Mrs. Elvsted and Lï¿½vborg to be as close. “He says I’ve inspired him, too,” Hedda’s reaction to this line would be envy, she wanted to be the inspiration, she wanted to be at the heart of something exciting, instead she is bored all day. When Lï¿½vborg declines the punch, he would look to Mrs. Elvsted with an expression of enthusiasm, Hedda would just look straight on at him with a false expression of admiration.
Then Hedda smoothly changes tactic by adding that he must drink “because of other people.” As Mrs. Elvsted realises that Hedda is beginning to win the fight, the changes in status and moods between the characters would gain momentum. After Hedda says that Mrs. Elvsted came around in “a state of desperation,” She would calm herself and relax back into the chair, whilst smiling between Mrs. Elvsted and Lï¿½vborg, and nod at Lï¿½vborg next line. “Desperation,” Lï¿½vborg would sit bolt up looking between Hedda and Mrs. Elvsted with a questioning look. The sudden turn in the situation would give Hedda joy, and fuel her to go on, “Your going to a party,” she has again found how to control Lï¿½vborg.
In the final part of Act three, Hedda and Lï¿½vborg say goodbye for the last time. Just as Lï¿½vborg is “about to leave,” Hedda reaches her hand out in his direction and says, “No! Wait!” She moves across to the desk, and begins unlocking the pistol case as she says her following line. He stands there, motionless watching her, hoping she has the answer to all that is wrong, a look of hope in him. As she turns from the desk Lï¿½vborg is slightly disappointed that Hedda is carrying a pistol, she hands it to him slowly as she says, “do you recognise it?” He takes a slightly angry tone as he remarks that Hedda “should have used it” before. Hedda clasps her hands around his during the line “well…! You use it now,” showing a small but significant sign of affection for Lï¿½vborg. When he leaves she would move slowly over to the stove momentarily stopping to retrieve the manuscript. The pulling up a chair she would begin to burn the manuscript, page by page, ripping each one with an audible tear. Saying her lines slowly with a sneer.
During her time with Lï¿½vborg, we see that Hedda Gabler can show affection for others, and we also see her most manipulative side. The softly spoken “vine leaves” image shows how Hedda controls others to gain the perfect circumstances for her dull life, these ideals of love give her happiness. When her ideals are not met, then her attitude changes and the characters are put into place until she is happy with what is happening around her.
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