Henrik Ibsen

MTC Talks | Ibsen's enduring relevance

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Fiona Gruber, the host of the MTC Talks interview series, grew up in Sweden. She comments that Ibsen’s legacy is very much alive today.

Ghosts is much more than just a play about a woman who compromises with the truth in order to maintain a comfortable life. Ibsen was writing at a time when Norway was ruled by Sweden, so the structure of power and authority in all its forms was very much on his mind. His great dislike of church authority and its role in stifling unpalatable truths also comes out in the play. And then of course there’s the tension between the domestic and the civc, the individual and society, which crops up throughout his work. It’s interesting to think, when you watch a film by that other great Scandinavian, director Ingmar Bergman, or the latest episode of The Killing, The Bridge, or Borgen that many of the themes Ibsen tackled are still being nutted out in the unflinching and morally uncompromising gaze of contemporary Scandinavian drama.’

In the latest episode of MTC Talks, Fiona Gruber discusses the enduring thematic relevance of Ibsen’s work with Denise Varney, Associate Professor in Theatre Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the Australian Centre.

Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber is a features writer and broadcaster on the arts for a range of publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian, The Australian Book Review, Opera Now and The Times Literary Supplement. She produces and presents features for ABC Radio National’s Books and Arts Daily, formerly worked on ABCTV’s Sunday Arts and hosted a weekly arts program, The Opening on PBSFM. She co-founded the fabled arts club, Gert’s Sunday Salon, which won a Green Room Award for services to cabaret. You can receive updates from Fiona Gruber on Twitter.

Denise Varney

Denise Varney is Associate Professor in Theatre Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and co-director of the Australian Centre. She teaches Modern and Contemporary Drama and Australian Theatre and Performance in the English and Theatre Studies Program and contributes lectures on Ibsen and Chekhov into the first year subject Literature and Performance. She has published on Australian Theatre, Brechtian and contemporary German theatre, feminist criticism and women’s theatre. Her latest book is co-authored monograph Theatre in the Asia Pacific: Regional Modernities in the Global Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). You can learn more about Denise Varney on the University of Melbourne website.

You can hear more from the MTC Talks series here.

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