Above: Danielle Cormack and Bridie Carter
Opening on Saturday 10 November in the new Bille Brown Theatre, Queensland Theatre’s season finale, Hedda showcases a trio of talented women.
Danielle Cormack is ready to tackle one of drama's greatest heroines. Playwright Melissa Bubnic has the turn of phrase and black humour to bring a 19th century classic into the 2000s, and Paige Rattray wll be directing.
In Queensland Theatre’s Hedda we see Ibsen’s fiercest leading lady land poolside on the Gold Coast!
The story: Hedda Gabler is railing against her life. She didn’t marry drug slinger George Tesman so she could play housewife in a monstrous Gold Coast mansion with white leather couches, blingy chandeliers and endless rounds of Aperol Spritz. She wants something much more and now her old flame, Ejlert Løvborg, is out of prison and off the junk. Is he about to slice off a piece of George’s empire? Maybe Hedda can pull some strings to work this to her advantage.
The story is brought to life by a collective of Australian stage and screen talent – Danielle Cormack has played powerful female characters in Wentworth and Rake; Jimi Bani returns to Queensland Theatre fresh from the critically acclaimed My Life is Jimi national tour; the Helpmann-nominated Jason Klarwein was last applauded in Twelfth Night; Joss McWilliam brings more than 30 years of experience in standout roles; NIDA graduate and leading actor Bridie Carter (McLeod’s Daughters) makes her debut with Queensland Theatre, while multi-award nominated Helen O’Leary (Packed to the Rafters, The Strip) also debuts with Queensland Theatre. Completing the casting is Andrea Moor.
London-based playwright Melissa Bubnic is returning to Australia for the opening and said her adaptation of Hedda had been two years in development with Queensland Theatre.
She explains the reason for making the George Tesman character a drug slinger: “I didn't feel that academics arguing over the meaning of life and losing a manuscript felt inherently dramatic to me for today's audience. Drugs, violence, and death - all of that felt immediately higher stakes. This is a world where if you make a dud move, the consequences can be catastrophic.
“And Hedda is completely unapologetically self-serving. She's after what she wants and everyone else is collateral. She doesn't have the ennui, restlessness, longing for beauty of the original Hedda. My Hedda is a woman on a mission,” said Bubnic.
Director Paige Rattray has directed two of Queensland Theatre’s most powerful stage productions in Black is the New White and Scenes from a Marriage, and said Ibsen was a radical thinker in his time and Melissa Bubnic’s reimagining equally as radical for now.
“We were interested in taking one of the ‘great’ female roles and tipping the idea of the tragic female lead on its head. Our Hedda isn’t a bored housewife. She’s a woman with a huge amount of energy who wants to rebuild the family name and be autonomous, and she will do anything to make that happen. She’s bold and brutal and takes no prisoners. It’s set on the modern-day Gold Coast; the family business is drugs and property development. It’s a very high stakes world,” she said.
Hedda - a re-imagining of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler by Melissa Bubnic, directed by Paige Rattray. 10 November to 8 December at the Bille Brown Theatre, Queensland Theatre. Tickets: Tickets at queenslandtheatre.com.au or by calling 1800 355 528.