Often considered Ibsen’s greatest work, The Wild Duck marked a new departure for the father of modern drama, blending the naturalism of his middle dramas with the symbolism of his late period. The play explores the world of the Ekdals, a family whose peaceful existence is fragmented and destroyed in the name of “truth.” With its ironic shifting of illusion and reality, and its impassioned cry for personal freedom, The Wild Duck remains as disturbing and challenging as ever, and combines, in Bernard Shaw’s words, the profoundest tragedy with irresistible comedy.
Gregers Werle, the idealistic son of a wealthy businessman, has returned home from seventeen years of self-imposed exile. At a party thrown for him by his father, he meets his childhood friend, Hjalmar Ekdal, now an impoverished photographer married with a fourteen-year-old daughter, Hedvig.
From a couple of chance remarks, Gregers begins to suspect that the Ekdals’ social and financial decline might in some way be connected with his father’s greed, both commercial and sexual. He confronts Old Werle, who attempts to buy his silence. Determined to reveal the extent of his father’s corruption, Gregers quits his family home again, and takes a room in the Ekdals’ garret, which they share with Hjalmar’s elderly father and a menagerie of chickens, rabbits, and Hedvig’s special pet, an injured wild duck.
Piece by piece, Gregers sets about exposing and dismantling the illusions upon which the Ekdals’ happiness is based, fragmenting the peaceful household in the name of truth, with ultimately tragic consequences.
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1927 – 2023
As founding director of the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters, Robert Brustein supervised well over two hundred productions, acting in eight and directing twelve. He wrote eleven adaptations for the American Repertory Theater and was the author of many books on theater and society. Mr. Brustein also served for twenty years as director of the Loeb Drama Center, was a Professor in Harvard’s English Department, was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University, and drama critic for The New Republic. He was inducted as a member in to the American Theatre Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received numerous awards including the George Polk Award in Journalism, the Commonwealth (Massachusetts) Award for Organizational Leadership, and the Eugene O’Neill Foundation’s Tao House Award for serving the American theater with distinction, and the National Medal of the Arts.
At A.R.T., his produciton of 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; The English Channel was produced in 2007 in Boston and at the Vineyard Playhouse, and played at the Abingdon Theatre in the fall of 2008, receiving a nomination 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 A.R.T. 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, and toured theaters in Florida and in Stamford, Connecticut. The play has also been produced at Theater J in Washington, DC. 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 was 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.
Brustein served as a Professor of English at Harvard University, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, 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 Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He retired from the artistic directorship of A.R.T. in 2002 and subsequently served as Founding Director and Creative Consultant.
During his tenure at A.R.T., 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 A.R.T., Lysistrata by Aristophanes, directed by Andrei Serban. He also directed numerous adaptations while at A.R.T. 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) and Tonight We Improvise; as well as 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 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 was the recipient of many distinguished 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 Association
- 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
- National Medal of the Arts
- Players Club Hall of Fame
Swiss theater and opera director François Rochaix is a former Associate Director of the A.R.T. and a former Director of the A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training. His directing work at the A.R.T. includes Antigone, The Bacchae, The Wild Duck, Tartuffe, and The Oresteia, as well as Michel Vinaver's Overboard, Agamemnon/The Libation Bearers, and other productions at the Institute. Mr. Rochaix has worked extensively in theaters and opera houses throughout Europe and the U.S. In 1963 he founded the Theatre de l'Atelier in Geneva, where he worked until 1975. He then became the General Director of the Theatre de Carouge through 1981, when he became a freelance director and began his work in opera. His opera credits include Turn of the Screw, Pellas et Mlisande, The Rake's Progress, and Dialogues des Carmelites at the Grand Theatre de Geneve; as well as productions at Scottish Opera, Opera North, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington Opera, and Seattle Opera, where his work includes Wagner's complete Ring cycle. Mr. Rochaix's theater credits include Ibsen's A Doll's House in Bergen, Norway; Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 in Geneva, Vitrac's Victor in Moscow, and a Swiss, Norwegian, American, and Russian co-production of The Oresteia in French and Norwegian, presented in Geneva in 1991. Mr. Rochaix served as Artistic Director of La Fête des Vignerons de 1999, the massive Festival of the Winegrowers in Switzerland.
Set design by
Set design by
Jean-Claude Maret has been the set designer for François Rochaix's productions of The Bacchae and The Wild Duck at the American Repertory Theater. Mr. Maret lives and works in Geneva as a set designer and costume designer for theater and opera. Since 1967 he has collaborated regularly with Mr. Rochaix for numerous productions at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, including the operas Katya Kabanova, Nabucco, The Rake's Progress, Idomeneo, Death in Venice, and Pelleas and Melisande. Abroad they worked together on productions of The Wild Duck in Oslo, Norway; Carmen and The Meistersinger of Nurenberg for Seattle Opera; La Traviata for Opera North in England; When We Dead Awaken at the National Theatre, Strasbourg; and Tristan and Isolde in Lyon, France. Other works include Joyce's The Exiles for the Comédie Française; Hamlet, The Seagull, and Ghosts at Bergen's National Theatre; and Heiner Müller's Philoctète in Geneva. He has also designed for ballet and film, and is the designer of La Fête des Vignerons de 1999, the massive Festival of the Winegrowers in Switzerland.
Costume design by
Costume design by
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.
Lighting design by
Lighting design by
Lighting designer, Lady with a Lapdog. The American Repertory Theater's resident lighting designer (1997–2001). Antigone, Full 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.
Sound design by
Sound design by
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.
|Molvig, a one time theological student
|The Short-Sighted Guest
|Hakon Werle, a businessman
|Hjalmar Ekdal, his son, a photographer
|Gina Ekdal, Hjalmar’s wife
|Mrs. Sorby, housekeeper to Hakon Werle
|Hedwig Ekdal, daughter of Hjalmar and Gina
|Gregers Werle, Hakon’s son
|The Thin-Haired Guest
|Pettersen, Werle’s servant
|The Fat Guest
|Relling, a doctor
|scenic design by
|Jean Claude Maret
|costume design by
|lighting design by
|sound design by