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Ibsens’ “The Wild Duck” Opens Wednesday at Bard SummerScape 2011

The ninth annual Bard SummerScape presents The Wild Duck (“Vildanden”), a masterpiece of poetic realism by the father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen.  Considered by many to be the Norwegian dramatist’s finest and most complex work, The Wild Duck (1884) was described by George Bernard Shaw as combining “profound tragedy” with “irresistible comedy.”  The new production from returning young Irish director Caitriona McLaughlin, who staged last season’s acclaimed Judgment Day, will be presented in David Eldridge’s celebrated new translation, in ten performances between July 13 and 23.  These will take place in Theater Two of the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Bard College’s stunning Hudson River campus.
The great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is the second most widely produced dramatist in the world, eclipsed only by Shakespeare; thanks to works like Peer Gynt, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, and The Wild Duck, he is widely credited with introducing modernism to the theater.  Commonly hailed as “the master’s masterpiece,” The Wild Duck was written at the height of the dramatist’s career and, in blending the naturalism of his middle dramas with the symbolism of his late period, marked something of a departure.  It portrays the tragic consequences visited by the truth-seeking impulses of its protagonist – Gregers Werle, the idealistic son of a successful but duplicitous businessman – upon the family of his childhood friend, whose peaceful existence is founded on a tissue of lies.  This enables Ibsen to posit the notion that people depend on their illusions to get by: that absolute truth can be too much for the human heart to bear or, as the play’s Dr. Relling would have it, “Deprive the average man of his vital lie and you rob him of happiness.”
The SummerScape production uses David Eldridge’s translation from the original Norwegian; when this debuted at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2005, the Guardian marveled: “Eldridge’s version brings out Ibsen’s permanent relevance without any textual coarsening.”  Heading The Wild Duck’s strong cast is Dashiell Evans (Gregers Werle), who returns from last summer’s Judgment DayTom Bloom, whose film and TV credits include The Thomas Crown Affair and a multitude of characters on Law & Order, plays Gregers’ businessman father, Håkon, and Peter Maloney, known for his roles in the films Breaking Away, The Thing, and Requiem for a Dream, embodies Old Ekdal, for whose downfall Håkon is largely responsible.  Sean Donegan plays Ekdal’s deluded son, Hjalmar; Mary Bacon, most recently seen in HBO’s Mildred Pierce adaptation, plays Hjalmar’s wife, Gina; and young Erin Wilhemi, praised for her “welcome complexity” by, is their ill-fated daughter, Hedvig.
Leading The Wild Duck’s artistic team is returning young Irish director Caitriona McLaughlin, Associate Director and General Manager of London’s Playground Studio.  McLaughlin was the creator of last season’s Judgment Day, inspiring a spate of positive press; Bloomberg’s John Simon admired the “effective suspense” she engendered, the New York Post praised her “visually striking production,” while Hudson Valley News pronounced her “a gifted and talented young director with an understanding of how these themes transcended any specific timeframe.”  Likewise, Rural Intelligence raved:
“This is an extraordinary evening of theatre in every respect, but the awesome stagecraft powerfully serves the story… .  Director Caitriona McLaughlin has managed to make this small story have an epic feel… .  Anybody who appreciates theater that is visually and intellectually stimulating and morally challenging should see this production.”
Theater at Bard SummerScape 2011
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)
The Wild Duck (Vildanden, 1884)
Gregers Werle: Dashiell Evans
Hjalmar Ekdal: Sean Donegan
Gina Ekdal: Mary Bacon
Old Ekdal: Peter Maloney
Håkon Werle: Tom Bloom
Hedvig: Erin Wilhemi
Relling: Sean Cullen
Mrs. Sorby: Kristin Griffith
Molvik/Balle: Sydney Williams
Artistic team:
Directed by Caitriona McLaughlin
Set design: John McDermott
Costume design: Kaye Voyce, costume designer
Lighting design: Jane Cox
Projections: Aaron Rhyne
Sound: Ryan Rumery
Wednesday, July 13, 3 pm
Thursday, July 14, 8 pm
Friday, July 15, 8 pm
Saturday, July 16, 8 pm
Sunday, July 17, 3 pm
Wednesday, July 20, 3 pm
Thursday, July 21, 8 pm
Friday, July 22, 8 pm
Saturday, July 23, 8 pm
Sunday, July 24, 3 pm
Tickets: $45
SummerScape theater performances are held in Theater Two in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region.
Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available exclusively to ticket holders for the performances on July 16 and 23.  Fare is $25, and reservations are required.  Visit for more information and to make a reservation.  Shuttles to and from Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff train stations are also available for certain matinée performances.  Reservations are required.  Visit for more information and to make a reservation.
Highlights of the ninth annual Bard SummerScape Festival
Scandinavia’s rich cultural heritage, and the question of artistic conservatism in the modernist age, will be explored at the eighth annual Bard SummerScape festival, which once again features a sumptuous tapestry of music, opera, theater, dance, film, and cabaret, keyed to the theme of the 22nd annual Bard Music Festival.  Presented in the striking Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and other venues on Bard College’s bucolic Hudson River campus, the seven-week festival opened on July 7 with the first of four performances by Finland’s Tero Saarinen Company, and closes on August 21 with a party in Bard’s beloved Spiegeltent, which returns for the full seven weeks.
This year’s Bard Music Festival explores “Sibelius and His World,” and some of the great Finnish symphonist’s most fascinating contemporaries provide other SummerScape highlights, including New York’s first fully-staged production of Richard Strauss’s 1940 opera Die Liebe der Danae; Noël Coward’s chamber opera, Bitter Sweet (1929); Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama The Wild Duck (1884); and a film festival, “Before and After Bergman: The Best of Nordic Film.”  A list of key performance dates follows below.
SummerScape 2011: key performance dates by genre
Richard Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae
Sosnoff Theater
July 29*† and August 5 at 7 pm
July 31* and August 3† and 7*† at 3 pm
Tickets: $30, $60, $70, $90

Noël Coward: Bitter Sweet
Theater Two
August 4, 6, and 11 at 8 pm
August 5, 10†, 12†, 13*, and 14† at 3 pm
August 7 at 7 pm
Tickets: $55
Henrik Ibsen: The Wild Duck
Theater Two
July 13†, 17†, 20†, and 24† at 3 pm
July 14–16* and 21–23* at 8 pm
Tickets: $45
Tero Saarinen Company
July 7*, 8, and 9+ at 8 pm
July 10† at 3 pm
Sosnoff Theater
Tickets: $25, $40, $45, $55
* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for this performance. Fare is $25. Reservations are required.
† Round-trip shuttle between the MetroNorth station in Poughkeepsie, the Amtrak station in Rhinecliff, and Bard is available for this performance. Reservations are required.
+SummerScape Gala Benefit dinner and post-performance party.

“Before and After Bergman: The Best of Nordic Film”
Thursdays and Sundays, July 14 – August 18 at 2 pm or 7 pm
Ottaway Film Center
Tickets: $8
Cabaret, Family Fare, and SpiegelClub
Cabaret $25; Family Fare $15 ($5 for child under 18); SpiegelClub $5
Bard SummerScape Ticket Information
The Bard SummerScape Festival is made possible through the generous support of the Advisory Boards of the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and the Bard Music Festival, and the Friends of the Fisher Center.  Generous support for The Wild Duck is provided by Martin and Toni Sosnoff.
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit
Bard SummerScape:
Bard Music Festival:
Tickets: [email protected]; or by phone at 845-758-7900
Updates: Bard’s “e-members” get all the news in regular updates.  Click here to sign up.
All program information is subject to change.

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