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Monday, May 29, 2006

Henrik Ibsen and Star Wars

Another commemoration of sorts, this time marking the death of a noted writer...not the birth as for Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the death (May 23, 1906) of Henrik Ibsen, a very talented playwright who was very much ahead of his time (considered by some to be the Godfather of feminism) in writing about Victorian morals and other social issues. His writing was the source of much controversy in his earlier years and especially in his native Norway. He moved from Norway and spent thirty years living elsewhere and only returned to live out the remainder of his life.

When we read Ibsen now it is hard for us to imagine, in our present climate, that the words would elicit so much passion. But, the Victorian era, as prosperous as it was (the height of British industrial), had strict moral standards. For example, it was considered improper to mention the word "leg"... instead the word "limb" was used.

A short description of the plays (except for An Enemy of the People, no time...but I did find a link) and their Star Wars actor connections, no inter actor connections, there weren't any to list....oh, and the order of plays is chronological (year written) and all are stage productions except where noted:

Peer Gynt (1867)
I first knew of Peer Gynt as a child through Edvard Grieg's music compositions and from reading the funny name on the albums my mother had.

I found later that Grieg, like Ibsen a Norwegian, had been asked by Ibsen to create some incidental music (small pieces) for a play called Peer Gynt, Grieg happily complied. Grieg wanted to compose more though and ended up creating what is arguably his best known work and rather haunting...much as the play became one of Ibsen's best known works.

Peer Gynt is the son of a rich man who drank to much and then lost his fortune and died leaving his wife and son in poverty. Gynt daydreams about reversing the fortune of the family but basically can't stop boasting and dreaming enough to really do anything about it. Going so far as to get drunk and kidnap a bride, Solveig (who used to be his girl), from her own wedding. But flees before he can be caught and punished and is basically banished from the parish in which he and his mother lived.

Gynt sets up house in a cabin in the woods and Solveig comes to live with him. But he leaves her and goes on a journey where he pretends he's different people in many different adventures, including a stay at a Cairo madhouse where he's regarded as an emperor. After years and years of adventures under various guises he decides to return home.

His journey home is not without it's own adventure as he meets a guy who wants his corpse so he can find where dreams come from, the ship is wrecked and he meets Death who tells him that he shall basically burn in hell unless he can prove he was ever himself during his lifetime. Gynt tries but Death refuses each explanation but Gynt is clever enough to convince Death to give him more time to find proof.

Gynt finally returns home where he is not recognized yet finds Solveig still waiting for him at his cabin, as Death closes in on him Gynt clings on to Solveig and begins to realize that she and this home are what he's wanted all the while.

My explanation could hardly do justice to Peer Gynt but it is my favorite of any of Ibsen's stuff. This one is worth a read as well as listening to Grieg's Peer Gynt suites...very recognizable even if you don't know Grieg...mostly due to their use in cartoons. Anyway here are the Star Wars actors who have been involved in Peer Gynt:

Hilton McRae - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi~1983 (uncredited) - Arvel Crynyd)*Peer Gynt~2003 - Peer Gynt (Arcola Theatre, London, UK)

Ian McDiarmid - (Palpatine - OT/PT)<br />
*Peer Gynt~1973 - Peer Gynt (Oxford Playhouse, UK)

David Alan Grier - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi Radio Drama~1997 - Bo Shek/various voice characterizations)
*Peer Gynt~unknown year and role (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, PA)

Bronagh Gallagher - (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace~1999 - Radiant VII Cruiser Captain Karol)
*Peer Gynt~1994 - Chorus (Barbican Theatre, London, UK)

Bennet Guillory - (Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II~1997 - Qu Rahn)
*Peer Gynt~unknown year and role

A Doll's House (1879)
A Doll's House involves Nora who did what was expected of her, she married and had children. But Nora married for money not for love.
er husband falls ill and Nora has to find a way to get money so her husband, Torvald, can recover.

She gets the money which she says is from her father but is really from a secret source, Krogstad (Torvald's underling). Krogstad finds himself in a situation which he feels he may lose his position and tells Nora that she must help him keep his position or he'll reveal her secret.

But when it's obvious that she cannot convince her husband not to dismiss Krogstad she begins to feel helpless and ultimately leaves not only her husband but also her children.<br />

Pernilla August - (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace~1999 & Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones~2002 - Shmi Skywalker)
*A Doll's House~1989 - (Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden) Dir: Ingmar Bergman

Hilton McRae - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi~1983 (uncredited) - Arvel Crynyd)
*A Doll's House~1996 - Torvald (Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham, UK)

Elizabeth Rider - (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lord~2004 - voice of Atris)
*Doll's House~1981 - Helen, grief stricken woman (The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, UK)

David Warner - (Star Wars: Force Commander~2000 (voice) - Grand Gen. Brashin)
*(FILM)A Doll's House~1973 - Torvald Helmer, Nora's husband

John Chapman - (Star Wars~1977 - Gil "Dirfter" Varay (Red 12))
*A Doll's House~2002 - Krogstad (Box Theatre Company, Oxford, UK)

Silas Carson - (Ki Adi Mundi in the PT; also Viceroy Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi/Lott Dodd/Radiant VII Pilot in TPM; Nute Gunray in AOTC)
*A Doll's House~1996 - Krogstad (The Young Vic Studio, London, UK)

Stephen Markle - (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back radio drama~1983 - voice characterizations)
*A Doll's House~1991 - Krogstad (? place)

Ghosts (1881)
Ghosts, well...Ibsen, shocked many viewers in the socially/morally strict clime of the Victorian Era by using the word syphilis in his play and for having a woman forsake her socially and religiously driven morals to save herself and her child from a miserable life.

The story revolves around a woman, Mrs. Alving, is married to a philandering man and leaves him within the first year of marriage because she is so miserable.
A priest tells her to do the right thing by going back to her cheating husband and that her love should mend his immoral ways. She goes back but her love changes nothing. He continues his ways and manages to contract the STD and spreads it to his wife (Mrs. Alving) and, unknowingly, to his son, Oswald.

In order to protect her son from the atmosphere at home and the truths therein she sends him off to school (boarding) in hopes of saving him a tormented childhood. Mrs. Alving ultimately leaves her husband in order to save herself.

Sian Phillips - (Ewoks: The Battle for Endor~1985 - Queen Charal)
*Ghosts~19?? - Mrs. Alving (Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Wales, UK; Tour)

Michael Sheard - (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back~1980 - Admiral Crane Ozzel)
*Ghosts~19?? - Oswald (Perth Repertory Theatre, Perth, Scotland)

Lev Mailer - (Star Wars Holiday Special, The~1978 - Imperial Guard #1)
*An Enemy of the People~? - (Los Angeles, CA)

Stephen Elliott - (Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama~1981 - voice of Prestor (Bail Organa))
*An Enemy of the People~1971 - Dr. Thomas Stockmann (Lincoln Center Repertory, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, NY)

Mark Capri - (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back~1980 (uncredited) - Warrant Officer M'Kae)
*An Enemy of the People~1985 - ? (Roundabout Theatre, New York, NY)

Natalija Nogulich - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi~1996 - Mon Mothma)
*An Enemy of the People~2002 - ? (St. Louis, Missouri)

Tom Mannion - (Star Wars: pisode VI - Return of the Jedi~1983- Star Destroyer Captain #2)
*An Enemy of the People~1988 - Hovstadd (Young Vic and Playhouse, London, UK)

Wild Duck (1884)
Gregers Werle is one-man truth-seeking crusader who returns from a 15 year self-imposed exile to find that his best friend Hjalmar is in a marriage that was built on lies.

Hjalmar's marriage to Gina was arranged, though Hjalmar doesn't know this. Gregers learns that Gina was the one time maid and mistress of his own father and in order to conceal the truth, keep the pregnancy "legitimate" and save his own name he arranges the marriage between Gina and Hjalmar. Hjalmar believes the child, Hedvig, to be his own and everyone, including Gina are happy.

Gregers believes it's his duty to free Hjalmar of his life built on lies and works diligently to tear down the facade through what he truly believes is a selfless act. He has given no thought at all to the consequences of what he feels he must do and an entire family is destroyed because of Gregers quest for truth.

While it's easy to like Gregers despite his crusade one has to feel the tragedy in his mission as well. Very interesting story that goes against Ibsen's usual truth is sacred mantra.

Sebastian Shaw - (Anakin Skywalker - ROTJ)
* (Radio) Wild Duck~1985 -

Ian McDiarmid - (Palpatine - OT/PT)
*Wild Duck~1983 - Gregers Werle (Oxford Playhouse & Royal Exchange, Manchester, UK)

Hedda Gabler (1890)
Hedda Gabler is the hard-to-please daughter of a well-known general who marries out of desperation. Instead of leaving the situation, which she feels she cannot do, unlike many of Ibsen's previous characters, she stays. And in her frustration and misery decides to go at her life and others in a mean-spirited way causing destruction.

She undermines her husband, burns the creative project (manuscript) of a family friend who has confided in her that he is a failure and wants to kill himself, she nonchalantly says go for it...which he eventually does. She also refuses to acknowledge her pregnancy, which is more and more evident as the play progresses. In the end, and quite abruptly, Hedda kills herself.

Sian Phillips - (Ewoks: The Battle for Endor~1985 - Queen Charal)
*Hedda Gabler~1957 - Hedda Gabbler (Det Nye Teater, Oslo, Norge; Vanbrugh Theatre, London, UK)

Brian Deacon - (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords~2004 (voice) - Additional Voices)
*Hedda Gabler~1991 - (Citizen's Theatre Company, Glasgow, Scotland)

Dermot Crowley - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi~1983 - General Krix Madine)
*Hedda Gabler~19?? - (Hampstead Theatre, London, UK)

The Master Builder (1892)
The Master Builder
was one of Ibsen's most mature plays and was written when he was 64, two years after a platonic affair with a woman of 18.
Halvard Solness is a successful middle-aged builder in a loveless marriage to a cold but dutiful wife. He's afraid that his success will come to an end when someone younger comes to take over his position. He starts to flirt with his assistant Ragnar Brovik's fianc?e, Kaia (Kaja) and does everything to keep her in the office while keeping his assistant from getting promoted, but another young woman, Hilde, enters the picture and he directs his energy towards her.
There is an immediate chemistry, a certain tension, that is skirted through flirtation while he bares his soul to the young admiring woman who doesn't quite understand his problems but makes him feel like a hero.

After a chat with Solness' wife Hilde decides she needs to leave but Solness wants to keep her with him, near him and will do anything to keep her there. So he asks her what she wants and she tells him she'd like a castle. She wants her Master Builder to create a castle for her. Which he sets out to do.

In the middle of building Hilde convinces Solness to climb upon the scaffolding to regain a lost feeling of worth and satisfaction he once had in building things for people. He does this thing for her and stands on the scaffolding enjoying the moment to cheers from onlookers...then he slips and falls.

Sebastian Shaw - (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi~1983 - Anakin Skywalker)
*(TV) The Master Builder~1985 - ?
*The Master Builder~1988 - Knut Brovik (Ragnar's dying father) (?unknown venue)
Other Star Wars alum: Ellison Kemp

Ellison Kemp - (Star Wars~1977 - ?)
*(TV) The Master Builder~1985 - ?
Other Star Wars alum: Sebastian Shaw

That's it! ;)

Thanks for lookin!

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