Peer Gynt, Ibsen's 1867 masterpiece, has waited a century and a half to be staged with 21st-century technology. The proscenium theater of Ibsen's day launched this sprawling verse epic, but it also could not accommodate its true scope. We want to produce this play with all the multidimensional adventure it demands.
We are going to take over two buildings—with advanced technological capacities and multiple levels and rooms—and inhabit it with the adventure of Peer Gynt. Drawing on the play's roots in medieval plays, this production will move the audience through different spaces as Peer roams through Norway. We will take some episodes that are usually cut due to the difficulty in staging them—such as the shipwreck scenes—and bring them to life in rooms crafted from video, digital animation, and non-human performers. We will intersperse such digital tableaux vivants with scenes of utmost simplicity, such as a single human performer peeling an onion in an empty room. The world of the dream, the tall tale, the adventurer, the vulnerable boy, the jaded man, the sweep of the fjords, the claustrophobia of the bog, the overlapping layers and stages of life will be evoked in this production.
The process is collaborative and multi-disciplinary in its conception. Scenes and "rooms" (tableaux vivants, installations) will be assigned according to interest. DANM students who sign on to the project group will be invited to propose scenes and determine their sphere of participation. Certain scenes and decisions are tentatively in place.
- The role of Peer: Professor Danny Scheie.
- Professor Brandin Baròn will create, in conjunction with Theater and DANM students, costume and 3D modelling for trolls, madmen, Norwegian revellers, and create connections between multi-cast roles both human and non-human.
- Professor Edmunds: Overseeing the design of the conceptualization and orchestration of the spatial layout.
- Professor Carson: arrangements of Grieg and incidental music.
- Professor Jannarone will orchestrate/direct all scenes not spearheaded by other professors or DANM students.
- Christopher Molla and Jessica Hayden Molla: Soundscapes and installations.
Other faculty members and outside professionals will take on other scenes and offer Norwegian dramaturgy/literary/cultural advice.
Outside Input and Impact
This production should be a watershed in American stagings of Peer Gynt. Associated components include:
- Conference: "Peer Gynt in a Digital Age."
- Field trip to Norway. Ibsen: "To understand me, you must understand Norway."
- The Gynt Project envisions transforming its performing objects and media into an installation space, creating interactive stand-alone exhibits building from the live Gynt production. The Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery will host this exhibition.
- Book, heavily illustrated, linking Peer Gynt to its Norwegian roots for English-language readers.
This project will continue beyond the official 2012 project group period, with performance in Feb/Mar 2013.
In Spring and Fall 2013, this group will collaborate with the Mechatronics Collaborative Project Group.