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This chapter portrays Ibsen as a world dramatist with commercial productions touring five continents between 1889 and 1916. These productions travelled on the well-established commercial theatre touring circuits of the late nineteenth century that used the shipping, rail and road networks of trade routes that linked European nations with their colonial settlements and diasporas. This early distribution of Ibsen's plays is visualized in the chapter using data from IbsenStage (https://ibsenstage.hf.uio.no), the online database that holds 23,604 production records of Ibsen’s plays. At the heart of this chapter are the stories of the star actors who played Ibsen’s characters on their international touring circuits to show off their virtuoso skills.
This chapter considers the contribution Ibsen made to theatre practice in the late nineteenth century by concentrating on audiences, auditoria and acting. It begins with glimpses of two nights in the theatre separated by fifty years. The first glimpse comes from the opening of one of Ibsen’s least known plays, Olaf Liljekrans, in January 1857, at Komediehuset (the playhouse) in Bergen, where Ibsen did his theatrical apprenticeship. The second glimpse comes from a performance of one of his most famous plays, Hedda Gabler, in February 1909, at Den Nationale Scene (the National Stage) in Bergen. The changes in the practice of acting, as illustrated by these two performances, are analysed with regard to changes in the design of auditoria and cultures of spectatorship. The chapter argues that three modes – the spatial, the psychological and the spectatorial – are all intertwined in Ibsen’s major innovations in the practice of theatre.
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