Another site, called “fairy
tale: a mermaid,” took place in a stairwell; all I was able to perceive
was the outline of a body; there may have been a pulley apparatus
that was supposed to pull the mermaid up.
“Storm in her head,” another site, was a dark tunnel with
lights in the floor; it was somewhat difficult to walk through (a
note in the program warned “watch your step”), and as one did, one
heard a recorded “voice-over” text about crying and sweating the
sea when we cry and sweat. The
most interesting site was the inspired number 7, “the science of
things,” in which we see the beautiful back of a naked woman (Erika
Rundle) lying on her side in a rectangular glass case
(suggesting an aquarium), being watched by two men surrounded
by a plethora of technical equipment.
This is Ellida, of course, being observed as a scientific
specimen by Dr. Wangel (Todd Peters) and Arnholm (Damen Scranton).
Wangel is in the same room with his wife, sonorously and
mechanically reading Ibsen’s text off an IBM Think-pad, and Arnholm
is in an adjoining room, reading his dialog off his computer.
Both men are also equipped with microphones and TV monitors,
on which they watch each other.
The general impression is of a sound studio gone wild.
The “science of things,” an expressionistic vision of Ellida
as an objectification of male desire and male scrutiny renders this
aspect of Ibsen’s play more powerfully than any realistic production
I have seen. Erika Latta, a kind of “wandering Ellida,” visits
all the sites and occasionally interacts with them, providing a
thread of unity to the whole production.
Of the outdoor sites, “Shipwreck”
took place on the fire escapes of the building’s courtyard, with
a man and woman (James Garver and Megan Wyler) pantomiming. In the back alley, the site “death of a mermaid,” showed
a video of a high sea with an impressionistic vision
of Ellida (Erika Latta) drowning; another site, “drowning room,”
contained a tiny TV monitor on which a miniscule version of the
“death of a mermaid” played. A kind of “finale,” called “high tide,”
took place in the courtyard,
featuring seven performers doing a kind of modern dance routine
on chairs. They resembled something like dada rockettes, and I could
not connect this performance to the preceding sites.
In general, this installation/performance workshop
production was a highly original and suggestive conceptualization
of Ibsen’s play and one looks forward eagerly to its final form.
Editor, Ibsen News and Comment
Interview With Ivan Talijancic
Templeton: How did you get interested in Ibsens
I read it several years ago and it was one of those plays that fascinated
me from the get go. I was drawn to it first of
all in a very intuitive way. But when the time came for me
to work on it, I didnt really want to do it because
the play seemed in a way dated -
Templeton: What was dated?
The style in general, the presence of melodrama, the “soap opera”
elements of the domestic situation:
the bad marriage, the “other man,” the stepchildren.
So the play had been sitting in my brain, but I didn’t know
what to do with it. Then I got the BAX [Brooklyn Arts Exchange]
stipend for a year to work on something and it seemed like a good
time to work on Lady. I had taken a lot of notes and jottings - that’s
how I work - and one thing I knew that interested me was the sea. I grew up by the Adriatic, and then I lived
away from the sea. My father’s
family were fishermen, and I must have that in the blood - there’s
that in the play of course, this kind of
unfathomable entity which one is terrified of and drawn to - as
how did you eventually decide to do the play?
In 1994, I was a graduate student in theatre at Columbia, and I
went back to my alma mater, the University of California at San
Diego, where I had an opportunity to do
A Doll House.