Rehersals for “John Gabriel Borkman” – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Rehersals for “John Gabriel Borkman”

For those with a passion for the theatre, and an eagerness to explore and take risks, auditions for Henrik Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman” are open this weekend to students, faculty and staff. Auditions will be held from 1 until 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15 or 16 in the Bartlett Theatre. A copy of the play is available on reserve in the library.

This powerful drama tells the story of an ambitious financier and his family, offering roles for 4 women and 3 men. Rehearsals for the production will begin on Jan. 11 under the direction of Robert F. Gross.

Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman” features two generations of a family whose life has been shaped by a financial scandal. “Magnetic, visionary, and deeply ambitious, John Gabriel was on the verge of realizing his dreams, when suddenly his plans collapsed and he was sent to prison,” describes Gross. “Now a recluse, he dreams of a return to power, while his wife, sister-in-law, and son all have plans of their own. Set at night in the depths of a Norwegian winter, this play fuses psychological penetration with a dream-like, even mythic quality.” A masterpiece of Ibsen’s late period, the play offers extraordinary roles which have been played by such legendary performers as Ralph Richardson, Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, and Irene Worth.

“Last year, when I picked this play,” says Gross, “it was clear that finances were going to be on everyone’s minds in 2009 — but I had no idea to what extent that would be true. In the light of the economic debacle of the past months, ‘John Gabriel Borkman’ is timelier than ever.”

Rehearsals for the show begin more than a week before the beginning of classes, allowing the troupe to rehearse six or more hours a day. “It allows us to immerse ourselves in the play, free from other responsibilities,” says Gross. “There’s a special intensity and excitement that comes from this schedule, and I always find myself looking forward to it. The opportunity to immerse ourselves in a play by Ibsen, one of the greatest playwrights the theatre has ever known, comes about only too rarely.”