Theatre, 1972

The Wild Duck

Unconventional production of Ibsen's drama, with the focus on Hedvig (Lena Nyman) which met with what were possibly the best reviews that Bergman had ever received for his theatre work.

'I am certain that The Wild Duck will be considered one of Bergman's most superior productions.'
Leif Zern, Dagens Nyheter

About the production

When Ingmar Bergman put on The Wild Duck at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in 1972, his take on the play was hardly traditional. The drama usually centres on the mental conflict between Gregers and Hjalmar. Bergman opted instead to make Hedvig the central character of the play: it was through her eyes that the audience viewed the sequence of events. This interpretation was further reinforced by the mise-en-scene. Traditionally the attic is placed at the back of the stage, and what takes place there is consequently hidden from the audience. Bergman reversed this idea, turning the attic outwards. This gave it a prominent position, one which heightened its symbolic significance. The contrast between the shabby studio and the attic thereby became an important theme of the production as a whole. It also brought the actors closer to the audience, making it possible to interpret their thoughts and feelings from their facial expressions.

As always in Ibsen's dramas the past casts a long shadow over the present, and this was visually reinforced by Bergman. The Werle house, for example, featured a portrait of Gregers' dead mother. This was especially significant in the scene with Old Werle, Gregers' father and the former business partner of Old Ekdal. It demonstrated how the memory of his beloved, yet deeply unhappy mother was always present in Gregers' psyche. This maternal portrait had a counterpart in the Ekdal home, where Gina was a calm and collected influence, whose down-to-earth motherly nature held things together. The production emphasised how various aspects of motherliness had formed and were still moulding Gregers' and Hjalmar's lives.

Sources

  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Henrik Sjögren, Lek och raseri, Ingmar Bergmans teater 1938-2002, (Stockholm: Carlsson Bokfölag, 2002).
  • Birgitta Steene, Ingmar Bergman: A Reference Guide, (Amsterdam University Press, 2005).

Collaborators