On Friday 5th October, we were delighted to welcome Professor Murray Biggs (OR) to King’s, to speak to our sixth form A Level Literature and Drama and Theatre Studies pupils. Professor Biggs, who is an Associate Professor at Yale University and an expert on Theatre and Drama, gave us an informative and entertaining introduction to the plays of Henrik Ibsen and his contribution to Modernism.
English Literature pupils in the sixth form are currently studying Ibsen’s controversial play, ‘A Doll’s House’, whilst the Drama class will be exploring the powerful play, ‘Hedda Gabler’ as part of their A Level studies.
Professor Biggs spoke of the way in which Ibsen’s style and interests developed over the years from the early days of his writing, when his plays, like Brand and Peer Gynt reflected his interest in Norway’s rich history and folklore, through to his modernist plays, like ‘A Doll’s House’ and ‘Pillars of Society’. In these later works, Ibsen exposed the hypocrisy of the Norwegian middle classes and he shocked 19th century audiences with his audacious exploration of the inequalities and flaws inherent in society and its seemingly respectable families. These realist dramas earned Ibsen the reputation of being a radical; they brought with them, notoriety - but also, admiration from the likes of George Bernard Shaw. Professor Biggs explained to us that Ibsen’s characters often seek a greater freedom than that which they possess, and they find themselves constantly at war with convention, an attitude that Ibsen encouraged, declaring that ‘to live, is to war with trolls.’
Mrs. E. McCarthy - Head of English