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The Master Builder

  • Feb 12, 1999 - Mar 21, 1999

  • Loeb Drama Center

  • Run Time: 2 hours with 1 intermission

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Halvard Solness, a brilliantly successful, aging architect who believes he possesses extrasensory powers over people and events, will stop at nothing to bolster his over-blown, guilt-ridden self image. When a beautiful young woman arrives to collect on a decade-old debt, Solness senses a final chance for personal redemption. Is she to be yet another of his casualties—or the wrecking ball that brings down the towering ego of the Master Builder?

SYNOPSIS

Nearly twelve years ago, the home of the builder Halvard Solness was burned to the ground. The fire, which caused the death of his two children and left his wife emotionally scarred, also gave Solness the opportunity to demonstrate his talents as one of the finest builders in the land.

A decade later, Master Builder Solness lives in fear that the new generation will arise and cast him aside. The arrival of a young visitor, Hilde Wangel, brings new life to the Solness home, but also rekindles painful memories of his past.

Credits

Creative team

by

Henrik Ibsen

Adapted by

Robert Brustein

Adapted by

Robert Brustein

As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, Robert Brustein has supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve.  He has written eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and is the author of thirteen books on theater and society. His latest book, The Tainted Muse: Prejudices and Preconceptions in Shakespeare's Works and Times, was released earlier this year. Mr. Brustein also served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University and drama critic for The New Republic. He is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient numerous awards including the George Polk Award in Journalism, the Commonweath (Massachusetts) Award for Organizational Leadership, and most recently the Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction.

His Six Characters in Search of an Author won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996. His play Demons, which was broadcast on WGBH radio in 1993, had its stage world premiere as part of the A.R.T. New Stages. His play Nobody Dies on Friday was given its world premiere in the same series and was presented at the Singapore Festival of Arts and the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow. His play Spring Forward, Fall Back was performed in 2006 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., and at the Vineyard Playhouse. His newest play, The English Channel, was produced in 2007 in Boston and at the Vineyard Playhouse. In the Fall of 2008, it played at the Abingdon Theatre in New York where it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Brustein also wrote Shlemiel the First, based on the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and set to traditional klezmer music, which was directed and choreographed by David Gordon. After the original presentation in 1994 at ART and in Philadelphia at the American Music Theatre Festival, which co-produced the show, Shlemiel the First was revived several times in Cambridge and subsequently played at the Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, as well as touring theatres in Florida and in Stamford, Connecticut. The play has also been produced at Theater J in Washington, DC. Shlemiel the First comes to Peak Performances @ Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, in January 2010.  His short plays Poker Face, Chekhov on Ice, Divestiture, AnchorBimbo, Noises, Terrorist Skit, Airport Hell, Beachman’s Last Poetry Reading, and Enter William Shakespeare were all presented by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre.  Brustein is also the author of Doctor Hippocrates is Out: Please Leave a Message, an anthology of theatrical and cinematic satire on medicine and physicians, commissioned by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for its 2008 convention in Nashville.  He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.

Brustein is a former professor of English at Harvard University (now a Senior Research Fellow), Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, the drama critic for The New Republic, and former dean of the Yale School of Drama. In 2003 he served as a Senior Fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and in 2004 and 2005 was a senior fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts' Arts Journalism Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre at the University of Southern California

He was the founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theater and served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, where he founded the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He retired from the artistic directorship of ART in 2002 and now serves as Founding Director and Creative Consultant. He is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and the Open University.

During his tenure at ART, Brustein wrote eleven adaptations, including Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, and When We Dead Awaken, the last directed by Robert Wilson; Three Farces and a Funeral, adapted from the works and life of Anton Chekhov; Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV; and Brustein's final production at ART, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, directed by Andrei Serban.  He also directed numerous adaptations while at ART including a Pirandello trilogy: Six Characters in Search of an Author, which won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996, Right You Are (If You Think You Are); Tonight We Improvise; Ibsen's Ghosts, Strindberg's The Father, and Thomas Middleton's The Changeling.

Over the course of his long career as director, playwright, and teacher, he has participated in the artistic development of such theater artists as Meryl Streep, Christopher Durang, Christopher Walken, Cherry Jones, Ted Talley, Michael Feingold, Sigourney Weaver, James Naughton, Mark Linn-Baker, Henry Winkler, James Lapine, Tony Shalhoub, Tommy Derrah, Rocco Landesman, Linda Lavin, Michael Yearga, William Ivey Long, Derek Maclane, Steve Zahn, Peter Sellars, Santo Loquasto, Tom Moore, Albert Innaurato, and many others.

Mr. Brustein is the recipient of many coveted awards, including:

  • Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Nottingham
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • Twice winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism
  • George Polk Award for Journalism (Criticism)
  • The 2nd Elliot Norton Award For Professional Excellence in Boston Theatre (formerly the Norton Prize), presented by the Boston Theatre District Associatione
  • New England Theatre Conference's Major Award for outstanding creative achievement in the American theatre
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education Career Achievement Award for Professional Theatre
  • The Commonwealth Award for Organizational Leadership
  • Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology Lifetime Achievement Award
  • National Corporate Theatre Fund Chairman's Award for Achievement in Theatre
  • Gann Academy Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  • Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction

View full biography

Directed by

Robert Brustein

As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, Robert Brustein has supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve.  He has written eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and is the author of thirteen books on theater and society. His latest book, The Tainted Muse: Prejudices and Preconceptions in Shakespeare's Works and Times, was released earlier this year. Mr. Brustein also served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, is a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University and drama critic for The New Republic. He is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient numerous awards including the George Polk Award in Journalism, the Commonweath (Massachusetts) Award for Organizational Leadership, and most recently the Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction.

His Six Characters in Search of an Author won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996. His play Demons, which was broadcast on WGBH radio in 1993, had its stage world premiere as part of the A.R.T. New Stages. His play Nobody Dies on Friday was given its world premiere in the same series and was presented at the Singapore Festival of Arts and the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow. His play Spring Forward, Fall Back was performed in 2006 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., and at the Vineyard Playhouse. His newest play, The English Channel, was produced in 2007 in Boston and at the Vineyard Playhouse. In the Fall of 2008, it played at the Abingdon Theatre in New York where it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Brustein also wrote Shlemiel the First, based on the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and set to traditional klezmer music, which was directed and choreographed by David Gordon. After the original presentation in 1994 at ART and in Philadelphia at the American Music Theatre Festival, which co-produced the show, Shlemiel the First was revived several times in Cambridge and subsequently played at the Lincoln Center Serious Fun Festival, the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, as well as touring theatres in Florida and in Stamford, Connecticut. The play has also been produced at Theater J in Washington, DC. Shlemiel the First comes to Peak Performances @ Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, in January 2010.  His short plays Poker Face, Chekhov on Ice, Divestiture, AnchorBimbo, Noises, Terrorist Skit, Airport Hell, Beachman’s Last Poetry Reading, and Enter William Shakespeare were all presented by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre.  Brustein is also the author of Doctor Hippocrates is Out: Please Leave a Message, an anthology of theatrical and cinematic satire on medicine and physicians, commissioned by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for its 2008 convention in Nashville.  He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.

Brustein is a former professor of English at Harvard University (now a Senior Research Fellow), Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, the drama critic for The New Republic, and former dean of the Yale School of Drama. In 2003 he served as a Senior Fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and in 2004 and 2005 was a senior fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts' Arts Journalism Institute in Theatre and Musical Theatre at the University of Southern California

He was the founding director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the American Repertory Theater and served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, where he founded the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He retired from the artistic directorship of ART in 2002 and now serves as Founding Director and Creative Consultant. He is also a regular blogger for the Huffington Post and the Open University.

During his tenure at ART, Brustein wrote eleven adaptations, including Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, and When We Dead Awaken, the last directed by Robert Wilson; Three Farces and a Funeral, adapted from the works and life of Anton Chekhov; Luigi Pirandello's Enrico IV; and Brustein's final production at ART, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, directed by Andrei Serban.  He also directed numerous adaptations while at ART including a Pirandello trilogy: Six Characters in Search of an Author, which won the Boston Theatre Award for Best Production of 1996, Right You Are (If You Think You Are); Tonight We Improvise; Ibsen's Ghosts, Strindberg's The Father, and Thomas Middleton's The Changeling.

Over the course of his long career as director, playwright, and teacher, he has participated in the artistic development of such theater artists as Meryl Streep, Christopher Durang, Christopher Walken, Cherry Jones, Ted Talley, Michael Feingold, Sigourney Weaver, James Naughton, Mark Linn-Baker, Henry Winkler, James Lapine, Tony Shalhoub, Tommy Derrah, Rocco Landesman, Linda Lavin, Michael Yearga, William Ivey Long, Derek Maclane, Steve Zahn, Peter Sellars, Santo Loquasto, Tom Moore, Albert Innaurato, and many others.

Mr. Brustein is the recipient of many coveted awards, including:

  • Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Nottingham
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • Twice winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism
  • George Polk Award for Journalism (Criticism)
  • The 2nd Elliot Norton Award For Professional Excellence in Boston Theatre (formerly the Norton Prize), presented by the Boston Theatre District Associatione
  • New England Theatre Conference's Major Award for outstanding creative achievement in the American theatre
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts
  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Association for Theatre in Higher Education Career Achievement Award for Professional Theatre
  • The Commonwealth Award for Organizational Leadership
  • Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology Lifetime Achievement Award
  • National Corporate Theatre Fund Chairman's Award for Achievement in Theatre
  • Gann Academy Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts
  • Eugene O'Neill Foundation's Tao House Award for serving the American theatre with distinction

View full biography

Directed by

Kate Whoriskey

Director Kate Whoriskey (The Master Builder) is a recent graduate of the A.R.T. Institute, where she directed Best Intentions, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and A Night Out, among others. Her New York directing credits include Mud, The Conduct of Life, The R.A.W. Trilogy, Blood Knot, and Without Skin Or Breathlessness at the Whitney Biennial. She is a recipient of a grant from the Massachussetts Cultural Council, the NEA/TCG Director's Fellowship, and an Outstanding Achievement Award in directing from NYU. A graduate of Tisch School of the Arts, Ms. Whoriskey is a director in New York Theatre Workshop's Curators' group.

View full biography

Set design by

Christine Jones

Set design by

Christine Jones

Christine Jones, the set designer for Nocturne, previously designed The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Man and Superman, When the World Was Green (A Chef's Fable), Hot 'n' Throbbing, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Silence, Cunning, Exile, and The L.A. Plays for the American Repertory Theater. Her other credits include The Green Bird (for which she received Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Award nominations) for the New Victory Theatre in New York, Texts for Nothing and Richard II for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Tartuffe and Richard III for Hartford Stage, and sets and costumes for Iolanthe at Glimmerglass Opera.

View full biography

Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Costume design by

Catherine Zuber

Catherine Zuber has created the costumes for Richard II, The Doctor's Dilemma, and over forty other A.R.T. productions including Three Farces and a Funeral, Antigone, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, Phaedra, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Imaginary Invalid, The Taming of the Shrew, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bacchae, Man and Superman, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Woyzeck, The Wild Duck, The Naked Eye, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Tartuffe, Ubu Rock, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Shlemiel the First, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, A Touch of the Poet, What the Butler Saw, The Cherry Orchard, and Orphée. Ms. Zuber's credits include work at Lincoln Center, The Joseph Papp Public Theater, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. Her Broadway credits include The Triumph of Love (Connecticut Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk nomination), Ivanov (Drama Desk nomination), The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night, The Red Shoes, London Assurance, The Rose Tattoo, and Philadelphia Here I Come. Ms. Zuber was the recipient of the 1997 Obie Award for sustained achievement in design. She is the costume designer for La Fête des Vignerons de 1999, the massive Festival of the Winegrowers in Vevey, Switzerland.

View full biography

Lighting design by

Michael Chybowski

Lighting design by

Michael Chybowski

Lighting designer, Lady with a Lapdog. The American Repertory Theater's resident lighting designer (1997–2001). AntigoneFull Circle, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, The Master Builder, Phaedra, The Bacchae, In the Jungle of Cities, The Taming of the Shrew, The Imaginary Invalid, and The Wild Duck at the A.R.T. Other: Moby Dick and Other Stories with Laurie Anderson, The Grey Zone (Long Wharf Theatre), Andrei Belgrader's production of Waiting for Godot (Classic Stage Company), Cymbeline (New York Shakespeare Festival, Delacorte Theatre), Playboy of the Western World (Steppenwolf Theatre), and the original production of Wit. For the Mark Morris Dance Group, he has designed over thirty dances, including Four Saints in Three Acts for English National Opera and Falling Down Stairs, which toured the U.S. with cellist Yo Yo Ma. Nominated for an American Theatre Wing design award for his lighting of David Rabe's A Question of Mercy and also for The Grey Zone by Tim Blake Nelson. Received a 1999 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence, the American Theatre Wing Design Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award for 1999.

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Sound design by

Christopher Walker

Sound design by

Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker has composed music and designed sound for We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!, Phaedra, Beckett Trio: Eh Joe, Ghost Trio, and Nacht und Traüme, and An Evening of Beckett, and designed sound for The King Stag, Loot, The Idiots Karamazov, Ivanov, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Charlie in the House of Rue, The Merchant of Venice, Valparaiso, The Taming of the Shrew, The Bacchae, The Wild Duck, Woyzeck, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Wild Duck, Alice in Bed, Slaughter City, Buried Child, Ubu Rock, The Threepenny Opera, The Accident, Demons, Waiting for Godot, The Oresteia, Hot 'n' Throbbing, The America Play, A Touch of the Poet, The Cherry Orchard, What the Butler Saw, and Those the River Keeps at the A.R.T. Previously he composed music and designed sound for productions at the Intiman Theatre, the Bathhouse Theatre, and the Alice B. Theatre. He also scores for dance and has composed for the Allegro Dance Festival, the Bumbershoot Festival, and On The Boards.

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Halvard Solness, Master Builder Christopher McCann
Aline Solness, his wife Sharon Scruggs
Dr. Herdal, the family doctor Will LeBow
Kurt Brovik, former architect Jeremy Geidt
Ragnar Brovik, his son Ben Evett
Kaja Folsi, his niece, a bookkeeper Aysan Celik
Miss Hilda Wangel Kristin Flanders