In July 1891 Ibsen returned to Norway and Christiania after 27 years abroad. The Master Builder was written the following year, but the creative process began in a way in Gossensass in the summer of 1889 - more precisely with his experiences with 18-year-old Emilie Bardach from Vienna. In February 1891 Ibsen visited his friend the literature scholar Julius Elias, in Berlin. Elias later published the following report of what Ibsen had said during this visit: `Do you know, my next play [The Master Builder] is already hovering before me - in general outline, of course. One thing I can see clearly, though - an experience I once had myself - a female character. Very interesting - very interesting.` Then he related how he had met in the Tyrol (where she was staying with her mother) a Viennese girl of very remarkable character, who had at once made him her confidant. The gist of it was that she was not interested in the idea of marrying some decently brought-up young man; most likely she would never marry. What tempted, fascinated and delighted her was to lure other women`s husbands away from them. She was a demonic little wrecker; she often seemed to him like a little bird of prey, who would gladly have included him among her victims. He had studied her very, very closely. But she had had no great success with him. `She did not get hold of me, but I got hold of her - for my play. Then I fancy she consoled herself with someone else.` (Michael Meyer, Henrik Ibsen - A biography, Garden City and New York 1971, p. 626)
After his visit to Berlin in February 1891 Ibsen must - as was his wont - have thought about the subject for about a year. On March 16th 1892 he wrote the following poem, which when first published in SamledeVærker (Collected Works) (1899), is described as "The first preliminary work for «The Master Builder»": They sat there, those two, in so snug a house through autumns and chill Decembers. Then fire destroyed it. Mere rubble to douse. The pair have to rake the embers. For under it all lies a hidden gem, a gem that`s impervious to burning. And if they keep looking, either of them might find it by raking and turning. But even if the blaze-ravaged pair should find that priceless, fire-proof jewel,she`ll not recover her peace of mind, nor he find bright joy`s renewal.(Translation: John Northam)The poem touches on the theme of The Master Builder. Several times earlier, while planning new plays, Ibsen had written poems with a similar function: to summarize the theme in a concentrated form. No other preliminary work on The Master Builder has been preserved. Ibsen is thought to have destroyed this, together with the first draft and possibly a second draft in the spring or summer of 1892. Another lost source of information about the play`s creative process is the
Theatre Royal HaymarketThe first public performance of The Master Builder was a reading on December 7th, 1892 at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket in London - in Norwegian. The reading was staged five days before the play was even published in Oslo and Copenhagen, and was part of William Heinemann`s claim to get the first copyright for himself.
Although it was performed by 12 different companies worldwide in 1893, the first professional staging of the play was on January 19th of that year at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin. The director Emanuel Reicher played the title role.The world premiere of Master Builder at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin reviews by Eduard Engel in the Hamburg Stranger sheet on 20 January 1893 Features section.Not a positive review: He compares Hilde to a vampyr; “The main character, Hilde, has as a leitmotif of the saying: "How extremely exciting!" It is the only one in the whole theatre, which is this judgement.”Another German critic talks about the Dirty Laundry that Hilde brings with her.
The next day it premiered in Trondheim.http://www.nb.no/utlevering/contentview.jsf?sesamid=bac679296b2528f93dd2946ae3fe301c&struct=DIVP3#&struct=DIVP2 for full scan of newspaper
A month later it was performed in England by Herbert Waring and Elizabeth Robins, who played Hilde, was an American actress born in Kentucky.Translation was by Edmund GosseAlso they produced it at Vaudeville Theatre March 6, 1893 and acted as co-directors
Johan Fahlstrom and JohanneDybwad. Give reviews to M. Stamps were made of JohanneDybwad in 1967.
http://www.nationaltheatret.no/The address of the national theatre is: JohanneDybwadsplass 1JohanneDybwad directed in 1910. She also played Hilde in this productionShe was a theatre producer. Who happened to be the leading actress in Norwegian theatre for half a century.The 1939 version: 02 September 1939 was the 40th anniversary of the National TheatreGerman invasion of Norway on April 9, 1940, and ended on May 8, 1945,The first night of the 1950 rendition was a performance in memory of the director Halfdan Christensen who died on 17th September 1850.
Solness and Knut BrovikAline and HalvardRagnarBrovik, Hilde, HalvardHalvardSolness
Very popular in 1943; could it have been because theater directors were sending a subtle message that they thought Hitler was Solness-like? The French theater and film scenes produced many productions that were subtle digs at their German occupiers during the later war years.Hubris?
Source:- Note in the The Daily Telegraph, 15/3-1928. - The Oxford Ibsen, vol. 8, edited and translated by James Walter McFarlane, London 1977, p. 379This is the first Ibsen play to be given by the BBC Radio. The producer was Howard Rose.
Produced in 1960 by David Susskind, this Broadway Theater Archive starred E. G. Marshall and Lois Smithhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DI87G/qid=1138990796/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&v=glance&n=130
1964 Michael Redgrave - While still at the National in June 1964 he also played HalvardSolness in The Master Builder, which he said 'went wrong'. At this time he had incipient Parkinson's disease, although he did not know it. Which brings to mind that there hasn’t yet been an definitive Solness.
The Master Builder (2003)Albery Theatre / West End - London, UKPlaywright: Henrik Ibsen; Adapted by John LoganCast: Patrick Stewart, Sue Johnston, Lisa Dillon, Edward De Souza, Katherine Manners, Stephen Kennedy, Jonathan HackettCharacter:HalvardSolnessHalvardSolness is a brilliantly successful architect who has created a reputation and career for himself at the expense of his wife and family. Now growing old, he lives in fear that a new generation of architects will take over and cast him aside. However, it's to the youth and beauty of a young woman that he falls victim. When Hilde Wangel arrives to collect on a decade old debt, she inspires him to build castles in the air with tragic consequences.Ibsen's compelling story of betrayal, pride, sexual passion and the disintegration of love, is as fascinating today as it was in 1892 when it was first written.Directed by Anthony Page, Tony Award-winning director of Ibsen's A Doll's HouseToured prior to West End run (at Albery Theatre June 12 to August 17, 2003).
2010 What the popular press had to say... (http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/reviews/masterbuilder2010.htm)"Ibsen's weird, autobiographical 1892 play gets a radical makeover at the Almeida. Out go the oppressive furniture, the frock coats and even the statutory intervals. Instead we get a straight-through, 105-minute version that has the quality, like an earlier Macbeth from the actor-director team of Stephen Dillane and Travis Preston, of a propulsive dream...It offers a riveting anatomy of the guilt at the heart of this disturbing masterpiece. " Michael Billington for The Guardian"This spiralling, angsty production of The Master Builder gets only halfway under one’s skin, disturbing us less than it should." Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard"Cold, mannered production stubbornly fails to catch fire as it should." Charles Spencer for The Daily Telegraph"Director Travis Preston keeps a firm hand on this turbulent drama. In all, an Ibsen to remember. " Paul Callan for The Daily Express"Bold and thoughtful modern-dress production with a dreamlike quality, part fantasy part nightmare. But it is also chillingly convincing. " Ben Dowell for The StageExternal links to full reviews from popular pressThe Guardian - Daily Telegraph
Also:Tour opening at Teatret i Trondhjem Place: Trondheim + tour in Norway, Germany and Denmark Production title: BygmesterSolness Opening date: 15 September 1907 Closing date: 28 December 1907 Cast: HalvardSolness: August OddvarAlineSolness: SofieReimers Hilde Wangel: JohanneDybwad Dr. Herdal: Ludvig Bergh Knut Brovik: HaraldStormoenRagnarBrovik: Thomas ThomassenKajaFosli: Alfhild Larsen Language: Norwegian
She was a big Hollywood star in the teens and twenties and a notorious lesbian. She coined the phrase “sewing circles” as a euphemism for lesbian groups.
January 11, 1899 – June 3, 1991Eva Le Gallienne (1899-1991): was one of the most successful figures in American theater for several decades. In addition to being an actress, she was also a director, producer, teacher, and memoirist, as well as a translator of the works of Ibsen, Chekhov, and others. Born in London her childhood was divided between time with her mother in Paris and time with her bon vivant father in England. In 1915 she and her mother sailed for New York. By 1920, she had signed a contract with theater impresarios the Shuberts and became popular on the theater circuit. Dissatisfied with the commercial theater of the day, Le Gallienne sought to develop a repertory company that would offer quality productions at low prices. In 1926, she opened her Civic Repertory Theater, for which she not only acted but also produced and directed plays, especially the works of Chekhov and Ibsen. It was a great critical success. In 1927 Eva began a relationship with married actress Josephine Hutchinson. When Hutchinson's husband initiated divorce proceedings and named Le Gallienne as a correspondent, the media had a field day. They referred to Hutchinson as "the shadow actress." At the time, the term "shadow" was a euphemism for "lesbian." Five months later, Le Gallienne daringly produced Alison's House, a play about Emily Dickinson, who by then was suspected by a small cognoscenti to have been a lesbian. The critics panned the production, but the play won a Pulitzer Prize. In late 1929, just after the stock market crashed, Le Gallienne graced the cover of Time magazine. The accompanying article reported that The Civic Repertory Theater was one of the few theaters still playing to full houses. Despite its large audiences, however, the Civic's expenses often exceeded its income, and the company folded in 1935. In 1964, she received a Tony Award for her production of Chekhov's The Seagull. At the age of eighty, Le Gallienne was cast along with Ellen Burstyn in Daniel Petrie's film Resurrection. Le Gallienne's performance as Grandma Pearl earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Le Gallienne died at the age of 92 on June 3, 1992."The theater should be an instrument for giving, not a machinery for getting." - Eva Le Gallienne
Uta Hagen (June 12, 1919 - January 14, 2004) was a German-born American actress and acting teacher. Born in Göttingen, Germany, her family emigrated to the United States during her early childhood. She was raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Primarily noted for stage roles, Hagen was a two-time winner of a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, first in 1951 for her performance in The Country Girl and again in 1963 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. In 1981 she was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame and in 1999 received a "Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award."
Alan Bates: This production recognizes the comedy inherent in Solness's situation. Ibsenis too often played gloomily, but this is a "Master Builder" that crackles with irony and humor. It dares to play with the nearly unbearable tension between the outward decorum of the characters-after all, this is a middle-class Victorian household-and the witches' brew of passions seething beneath. And it does all this with a minimum of self-consciousness, allowing the rich subtext of mythic allusions and ideas to speak for itself.Bates'sSolness commands his office and household with a sharp imperiousness. But a Solness who was merely strong would be insufficient. Bates' s great accomplishment in this part is to convey the shadows that haunt the master builder. Solness has put his feelings (and the feelings of others) aside, in order to become the pure instrument of his own professional success. But his feelings persist nonetheless, in a paranoid moodiness that is tinder to the inflammatory attractions of Hilde. When she batters down his defences and enters his inchoate, infantile emotional life,he quickly becomes a prisoner of her fantasized vision of him.Victoria Hamilton:In October 1995, a Daily Mail critic wrote of her stage presence in Ibsen's The Master Builder: "There are moments when a new young artist arrives on a stage and instantly the performance ignites the entire production." For her Master Builder performance as Hilde Wangel, she earned a nomination for a 1995 Ian Charleson Award for Best Classical Actor (under the age of 30). She won the 1996 Critics' Circle Theatre Award : Best Newcomer for The Master Builder and RetreatAlso:In the audience at one performance were Peter Hall and Alan Bates ( “I knew they were in because it's such a tiny little theatre. It was hysterical because nobody watched the play. Every time Alan moved, so did 17 women in the front row.”), who hired her to star opposite Bates in Hall’s production of The Master Builder in the West End. “There are moments when a new young artist arrives on a stage and instantly the performance ignites the entire production,” wrote Jack Tinker in the Daily Mail. “Then you reach for the old superlative cliches. A star is born; an overnight success. Yet these are to trivialise the subtle achievements of Victoria Hamilton in Sir Peter Hall's otherwise curiously stilted production of Ibsen's great monument to male megalomania.” (http://pandp2.home.comcast.net/~pandp2/pandp2cast/hamilton.html)And:Director (Sir) Peter Hall has retained the period setting of the piece and coaxed appropriately polished performances from the cast. As Halvard, Alan Bates is goodwithout being dazzling; Gemma Jones as forceful as possible in her role as his sickly and marginalized wife. Victoria Hamilton is suitably warm and rambunctious as Hilde "wild bird" Wangel, though perhaps a bit too informal to be credible. In short, this a conventionally staged, decent production of a great play.eye WEEKLY, January 25, 1996Toronto's arts newspaper, free every ThursdayAnd: ‘Hilde as a bewitching child-woman, to a large extent not so much amoral or immoral as pre-moral, before the suffering of Solness's wife gets through to her. There's comedy in her no-nonsense, unnervingly resolute manner; she reports that the 10 years are up and that she has returned for her kingdom with a weirdly matter-of-fact impatience quite as though this were some bet they had made five minutes ago and Solness was being rude dragging his heels.'Paul Taylor on Victoria Hamilton in Peter Hall’s production at the Theatre Royal HaymarketThe Independent, 16 October 1995
1999, 2003, 2004, 2006Performed 4 times 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006B.C.Pal Auditorium Place: C.R.Park, New Delhi, India Production title: Bohubrihee (Trans-creation of Ibsen´s "The Master Builder") Opening date: 22 September 1999 Performed in BengaliPerformed 18 November 2006 at the festival "Elegance of Ibsen" (organised by Sansaptak) at Sri Ram Centre Auditorium, SafdarHashmiMarg, New Delhi.Performed 25 March 2007 at The Little Theatre Group, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi.
2006 Bay area theatre. Reviews weren’t so great.http://www.auroratheatre.org/show_photos.php?prod_id=40#168
People’s Light & Theater http://peopleslight.org/production/master-builderThe Master BuilderBy Henrik IbsenTranslated by Paul WalshDirected by Ken MariniMarch 23 – April 17, 2011STEINBRIGHT STAGE
1994 - A multi-media theater piece based on Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder. Founded by Marianne Weems in 1993, The Builders Association produces multidisciplinary performances that combine new media with the performing arts. For these projects, Weems, the troupe's manager and stage director, surrounds herself with a great many collaborators, including architect Don Cleater and video maker Peter Norman. Since 1994, the group has presented six productions uniting formal innovation and social criticism.The approach of The Builders Association lies at the crossroads of visual arts, architecture and performance.http://spa.exeter.ac.uk/drama/presence/presence.stanford.edu_3455/Collaboratory/4002.html'It was a dream-like, super-voyeuristic experience. And the house was lined with video and sound triggers, which the actors activated. After that, and in each succeeding project since then, my interest in physical edifices has receded, and what has emerged is the interest in the electronic network and how that too is a kind of architecture.'
Michael Pennington (Festival 09’s Collaboration and Taking Sides; extensive work with the RSC, the National Theatre, the English Shakespeare Company and in the West End) plays HalvardSolness. Maureen Beattie (the RSC's 2008 company for The History Plays, Macbeth, Othello, Medea, Casualty, TheBill, Lewis, Bramwelland Midsomer Murders) plays AlineSolness. Naomi Frederick (As You Like It, Mrs Affleck, Brief Encounter,Measure for Measure, Time and The Conways, Three Sisters,My Family) plays Hilde Wangel.
Productions of Ibsen’sThe Master Builder
Emilie Bardach`She did not get hold ofme, but I got hold ofher - for my play. ThenI fancy she consoledherself with someoneelse.` - Henrik Ibsen to Julius Elias
Ibsen’s poem first published in SamledeVærker (Collected Works) in 1899 They sat there, those two, in so snug a house through autumns and chill Decembers. Then fire destroyed it. Mere rubble to douse. The pair have to rake the embers. For under it all lies a hidden gem, a gem that`s impervious to burning. And if they keep looking, either of them might find it by raking and turning. But even if the blaze-ravaged pair should find that priceless, fire-proof jewel, she`ll not recover her peace of mind, nor he find bright joy`s renewal.
First EditionsThe Gyldendal editionIn 1892 on December 12 in Oslo and December 14 inCopenhagen, The Master Builder was published byGyldendalske Boghandels Forlag (F. Hegel & Søn) in anedition of 10,000 copies.The Heinemann editionOn December 6, 1892, publisher William Heinemann issued amini-edition of 12 copies of The Master Builder in London tolay claim to the copyright.
Lessing Theater inBerlin, January 19th 1893 Emanuel Reicher played the title role and directed. Eduard Engel, the critic from the Hamburg Stranger Sheet compared the character Hilde to a vampire and said: “The main character, Hilde, has as a leitmotif the saying: "How extremely exciting!" It is the only one in the whole theatre, which is this judgement.” .
William PetersensSelskab inTrondheim • January 20, 1893 • Performed in Danish
Trafalgar Square Theatre • February 21, 1893 Elizabeth Robins, HildeEdmund Gosse, translator
Wartime IbsenPerformances during WWI in:Poland 1914, 1917Germany 1915x3, 1916, 1917 No AmericanUK, 1915, 1918 performancesDenmark 1917 registered duringLatvia 1918 WWIPerformances during WWII in:Norway 1939US 1940, 1943, 1945Czechoslovakia 1940, 1943 No performancesGermany 1943 registered in 1941Denmark 1943 and 1942France 1943UK 1943Ireland 1943Finland 1943Sweden 1944
The Master Builder in other Formats • 1928 Radio Play by the BBC - Harcourt Williams played Halvard Solness: • Operas – one in Austria in 1996 the Tiroler Landestheater in Innsbruck, one in NYC • Norwegian Radio • Television
Broadway, 1960 • Produced by David Susskind • Starred E.G. Marshall and Lois Smith “…this black and white production depends on the viewers acceptance of the characters and their peculiar interactions, since there is virtually no change of scenery and no color to provide distractions... “ - Mary Whipple
Famous Guys Who’ve Played Solness • Laurence Olivier • Michael Redgrave • Alan Bates • Richard Kiley • Patrick Stewart • Stephen Dillane
The Old Vic June 9, 1964• Halvard Solness: Michael Redgrave / Laurence Olivier• Aline Solness: Celia Johnson• Hilde Wangel: Maggie Smith / Jeanne Hepple• Dr. Herdal: Martin Boddey / Peter Cellier• Knut Brovik: Max Adrian / Anthony Nicholls• Ragnar Brovik: Derek Jacobi / Edward Hardwicke• Kaja Fosli: Jeanne Hepple / Sheila Reed• Foreman: Rob Inglis• Friends: Elizabeth Burger, Reginald Gillem, Lynn Redgrave, Adam Rowntree, Maggie Riley, Ann Rye
Richard Kiley • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 1977 • It toured Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, Co nnecticut, in July, 1977Richard Kiley and Jane Alexander
Alla Nazimova Nazimova Company 21 January 1909 Euclid Avenue Opera House Cleveland, Ohio She played Hilde The production was part of a tour with A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler, but information about dates and venues other than Euclid Avenue Opera House has so far not been obtained.
Eva Le GallienneShe also directed the 1925and 1926 productions at theCivic Repertory Theatre inNYC
Uta Hagen• February 27, 1948• The Players from Abroad• Barbizon-Plaza Theatre• New York, New York• Performed in German
October 1995 • Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London, and Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto directed by Peter Hall • Alan Bates, Victoria Hamilton and Gemma Jones
The Master Builder in Asia• Lin Zhaohua Theatre Studio - Beijing production toured from 2006 to 2010
Sansaptak• Performed 4 times 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006• B.C.Pal Auditorium• Place: C.R.Park, New Delhi, India• Production title: Bohubrihee (Trans-creation of Ibsen´s "The Master Builder")• Opening date: 22 September 1999• Performed in Bengali• Performed 18 November 2006 at the festival "Elegance of Ibsen" (organised by Sansaptak) at Sri Ram Centre Auditorium, Safdar Hashmi Marg, New Delhi.• Performed 25 March 2007 at The Little Theatre Group, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi.
Colleges and Universities• The Student Entertainment Committee University of North Carolina, 1933• Drake University in Iowa, 1934• Harvard October, 1957• Adelaide University Theatre, Australia, 1960• Yankton College, 1962• S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo N.Y., The Department of Drama and Speech, 1964• Fairchild Theatre, Michigan State University, 1964• San Diego State Theatre (Campus Theatre), 1966• Yale Repertory Theater 2009 (and before….)
The Builders Association• Master Builder (1994), staged in an abandoned industrial space in the Chelsea area of New York, investigates different representations of domestic space. The actors move about in a three-storey model house fitted with sensors that are connected to MIDI protocol and trigger audio and video segments. The project is meant as both a performance and an installation: the audience can explore the interior of the house, activate the sensors and take in the theatrical performance.