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WVU School of Theatre & Dance Welcomes Robynn Rodriguez to Direct "Hedda Gabler" March 5-13


A Q&A With Robynn Rodriguez 

by Dr. Jay Malarcher, Associate Professor, Theatre History & Criticism


Robynn Rodriguez HeadshotRobynn Rodriguez made her professional directorial debut at the Utah Shakespeare Festival with an acclaimed production of Shakespeare's “King John.” Since that auspicious beginning, she has gone on to direct at USF, the University of Texas at Austin, Pacific Conservatory Theatre, Dartmouth College and American Players Theatre. Robynn has been teaching acting as well as directing school tours and community theatre since 1993. She is a sought after guest instructor and lecturer at theatre schools and colleges across the country. Rodriguez directed the School of Theatre & Dance’s production of “Hedda Gabler” running March 5-13 in the Gladys G Davis Theatre at the WVU Creative Arts Center.  Website: robynnrodriguez.com

Ibsen is a formidable figure in modern drama. What about his dramaturgy challenges you and excites you?

Ibsen is credited as being the father of theatrical realism. His writing is spare. The characters in his plays are complex. There are a lot of things going on at once in his plays, with his people. There is a lot going on between the lines. What people don’t say is as compelling as what they do say. In Ibsen plays, actors have a real opportunity to take a deep emotional dive without the heavy trappings of production. There are no technical fireworks, no “bells and whistles,” no sweeping declamatory speeches. Just some very real, complex people trying very hard to live their lives. For the actor in an Ibsen play, the work is less about “acting” and more about “being."

How well did you know the play before you signed on to direct it here?

Tesman and Hedda

Only through my experience of theatre history and seeing several productions of the play. I was fortunate, as a young actor, to work on several Ibsen plays that were translated by Jerry Turner, the translator of our production at WVU. Jerry Turner was the Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He hired me to work in the company and directed me several times. I learned a lot about working on Ibsen from him.

Berte and Miss Tesman


What are some of the most salient elements you'd like this production to bring out? 

Perhaps with the exception of Shakespeare, no playwright before Ibsen could match his observations of women. In 2020, it is hard to imagine the seismic reactions to his plays and the women who inhabited them. Women who dare to become the agents of their own destinies—eschewing the constraints of their time and culture and most especially, the men in their lives. Ibsen's view of women and their challenges is very modern. I think today’s audiences will find that a lot of what Ibsen writes about is still resonant today

“Hedda Gabler” will take the stage in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre at WVU’s Creative Arts Center March 5-7 & 10-13 at 7:30pm at March 8 at 2pm Tickets for “Hedda Gabler” are available on campus at the Creative Arts Center Box Office (Mon. - Fri. 10am to 5 p.m.), by calling 304-293-SHOW (7469) and online at ticketmaster.com.