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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Victorian-era tale tackles female empowerment

Karen+Sanchez+Duran+%28left%29+and+Leo+Vibal+%28right%29+perform+the+most+pivotal+moment+in+%E2%80%9CGhosts%E2%80%9D+during+rehearsals.%0APhoto+by+Joseph+Serrata
Karen Sanchez Duran (left) and Leo Vibal (right) perform the most pivotal moment in “Ghosts” during rehearsals. Photo by Joseph Serrata
Karen Sanchez Duran (left) and Leo Vibal (right) perform the most pivotal moment in “Ghosts” during rehearsals.
Photo by Joseph Serrata

By Victor Allison/reporter

Just as Jasmine Shands was getting her comedic timing down as an actress, the theater major now finds herself stretching an entirely new acting muscle in her latest role.

When “Ghosts,” a tragedy about 19th century morality, hits the stage at SE Roberson Theatre, Shands and her fellow castmates will have to see if they can subdue modern sensibilities for roles laden with old-fashioned ideals.

“I have never done a period play,” she said. “That’s different mannerisms, different language…It’s really just been a learning experience for me.”

Written by Henrik Ibsen, “Ghosts” centers around the Alvings family, an upper-class clan preoccupied with protecting the esteemed family name and rigid social values. But after the long-gone son, Oswald returns home ill and old, family secrets resurface, and their assumptions about the way the world should be unravels.

“It deals with previously taboo topics of marital and sexual secrets,” said associate professor of drama and director Drew Hampton. He said it also shines a bright light on the toxic culture of female obedience in a male-dominated world.”

In the 1880s, when the play made its debut it shocked audiences to Ibsen’s depiction of female empowerment and subversive behavior flouted standards of the Victorian era. It led one critic to infamously pan the play as “a dirty deed done in public.”

An earlier play of Ibsen’s, “A Doll’s House,” with similarly controversial themes was met with similar outrage.

“With both works, the playwright shocked audiences,” said Hampton. “Theatergoers [launched] into debates and even fist fights, as they questioned the moral behavior of the characters.”

For Hampton’s adaptation of the drama, he first consulted a translation by William Archer to preserve a classical tone. After chipping away at the script, he said this rendition is wholly unique.

“The script [is] more dynamic and accessible for a 2019 college campus,” he said.

Shands, who plays Regina, the Alving’s household servant, said though the script is over a century old, the issues are still eerily relevant.

“No matter what era, there are a certain set of moral codes that we go back to,” she said. “Themes I think a lot of audiences can relate to [such as] tradition, defying tradition, being in situations of holding secrets…to other people’s detriment.”

Leo Vibal, who will play Oscar Alving, the sickly son, characterized the play as an imperative piece of social commentary.

“The playwright Ibsen, he explained that he had to write this play, that it was extremely important,” he said. “I believe it. It is something of holding a mirror to society and the values that they place.”

“It’s a good show that allows the audience to think about the values and ideas,” he added.  “Whether those ideals can be upheld by truth or if they are just…ghosts of what they used to be.”

Ghosts
Oct. 2-Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m.
Roberson Theatre on SE

Tickets are free for TCC students and staff; $3 for non-TCC students; and $6 for the general public. Call the box office at 817-515-3599.

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