James Napoleon Stone and Annette Kurek.
Photo courtesy Theatre Coup d'Etat
After finding success -- and an Ivey Award -- earlier this year with Hamlet at the American Swedish Institute's Turnblad Mansion, Theatre Coup d'Etat is going back to the Scandinavian well for Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts.
Ibsen was the natural choice at this point, says director Peter Beard. "He's the second most important playwright after Shakespeare. He is the father of realism. He wrote about real people. He was the first one to have speech that sounds natural. We see his influence in Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, and Tony Kushner. We see it everywhere, and I don't think he gets done enough," he says.
The choice of work was also easy. "Ghosts is more obscure, but it has a lot of contemporary relevance in the themes of the play," Beard says. "The characters are very much real people. I know all the characters."
The work -- which was quite controversial at the time -- centers on with the Alving family, who are dealing with the choices made by their late patriarch, a scion of the community whose philandering ways destroyed generations. "He really pushed the buttons with his plays, and history has shown that he was right. It is gutsy to take on the establishment with your theater," Beard says.
As with Hamlet, the play will be presented in the Turnblad's ballroom, though the space will be configured in a different fashion. "I wanted to take advantage of the proscenium arch we have. The actual space on the stage is like a postage stamp, so we built stairs that go from the floor to the stage and turned it in a kind of three-quarters thrust," Beard says. "It shows how versatile the space is."
The mansion itself proves to be a perfect backdrop to the play's setting. "When you are walking up the stairs, it is like you are walking through the Alving's house. It would have been a house about this size with a lot of the same kind of features," Beard says. "In one rehearsal, we moved from room to room to see what it would be like in the actual house."
Above all, Beard wants people to not just take in what they see, but talk about it. "I hope being in this very intimate setting and watching these people's lives they can relate to these characters and see parallels to their own lives. I know who these characters are, and I hope the audience can make the same connection and have a discussion," he says.
IF YOU GO:
Through Nov. 3
American Swedish Institute
2600 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.871.4907 or visit online.