Well, speaking of famous Norwegians, I can’t leave here without mentioning Henrik Ibsen, Norway’s most famous and beloved playwright. Like Munch, I have always heard Ibsen’s name here and there and been aware of a few of his plays, but I wasn’t aware of the impact he had made on drama and that he is held in Shakespeare’s company as one of the greats.
In Paris last May I saw a production of A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s most famous play. I chose that play solely for the lead actress, as the lovely Ms. Audrey Tautou (of Amélie fame!) played Nora. It definitely got me curious about Ibsen though and I think it’s a happy coincidence to end up in Oslo where he spent the last 11 years of his life.
The apartment where he spent those years is now a museum in central Oslo, with authentic furniture (even his pee-pot!) and belongings from his life there with his wife Suzannah. I viewed the apartment with a Spanish couple and a tour-guide who offered nice little details about Ibsen and his wife. She mentioned that he would walk daily (for 9 years!) from his apartment to the Grand Café (the sidewalk between the two is now lined with quotes from his plays).
So, after this little visit, I decided to read what Ibsen was all about. I’ve read A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler and I’m in the middle of The Wild Duck. I’ve loved everything so far and can definitely see why his plays struck such a chord (and a nerve) with people. He was writing such controversial roles for women for that time and doing it all so cleverly and without the slightest bit of self-doubt. Here’s to Henrik Ibsen and all the theatre he continues to inspire!
Ibsen Museum, Henrik Ibsensgate 26, Oslo
photo of Ibsen walking courtesy of AP/Scanpix