Husband/wife team take on challenge of Ibsen’s ‘Hedda Gabler’

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Brandi Davis is still trying to grasp the essence of her character.

Davis plays the title role in the production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” at Westfield Playhouse Sept. 24 to Oct. 4.

“Everything about the role is challenging,” said Davis, an Elwood resident. “Hedda is a very complex character, so trying to peel away all the layers and figure out who Hedda is, is extremely difficult. We’re about three weeks into rehearsal and I’ve played the character different every single night and still haven’t settled on anything.”

Gabler is the daughter of an aristocrat who married an aspiring professor even though she doesn’t love him. The play is directed by Davis’ husband, Adam Davis, who is directing at Westfield Playhouse for the first time.

“This has been a show I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Adam Davis said. “It came across my plate 15 years ago to read this. I was just hooked immediately by the characters and how real they are. Ibsen doesn’t write characters. He writes people into situations. Every time I read it, and I’ve probably read it 100 times in the last three years, I find something new or connection between the characters. The cast is super talented. I was really fortunate who I was able to cast in the show.”

Westfield resident Alex Dantin plays George Tesman, who is Hedda’s husband.

“It’s a very challenging role because it’s a translated play from (Danish),” Dantin said. “It’s from the late 1880s, so it has a very different tone to it, which makes it difficult to learn all the lines correctly and the way they are meant to be said. I’ve been working on trying to get the lines down and the pattern down.”

Dantin, 43, returned to acting after a 20-year absence when he performed in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” at Westfield Playhouse in September 2019.

“I missed (acting),” Dantin said. “I was looking for something to do during the colder months. I saw Westfield had a thriving community for action and decided to jump back in.”

Steven Marsh, a Carmel resident who has dual roles of producer and cast member (he plays Judge Brack), said the character study and interaction are fascinating.

“It seems like you think you know where the show is going and then it swerves and becomes this character piece where people start ping-ponging off each other,” Marsh said. “I love it when you are surprised by something, even if in hindsight it all makes sense.”

Noblesville High School senior Rosie Allenson is the assistant director.

“This is my assistant directorial debut,” Allenson said. “It is a bit daunting to do it with an adult play, but it makes it that much more exciting. I’ve worked with a couple of these actors before and they are all stunning on stage.”

Allenson read the script before the cast was finalized.

“I read it three times before the start of rehearsals,” Allenson said. “I fell in love with the author’s style of writing. Adam warned me the first time you’ll get the plot and nothing else. The second time you’ll make connections and the third time it will click. It was exactly like that. He has a particular style of writing where you have to dissect to understand certain connections. Once you understand them, it’s a completely different story. I enjoyed reading it and seeing it on stage.”

Allenson said her role is mostly technical.

“I make sure the blocking doesn’t look awkward on stage and I help with the characterization as well, which I really enjoy,” she said.

Audience capacity will be limited to 25 percent, or approximately 40 people, for each of the eight performances. For more, visit westfieldplayhouse.org.


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