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A staged reading of the play

"Rosmersholm"

March 1999

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA




Written by: Henrik Ibsen
Directed by: Steven Culp



Rosmersholm:

In an effort to reach out to the local community and share their knowledge, expertise, and pure love of theatre, and surrounded by neighborhood public and private schools, Interact 's members have added to their regular schedule of readings and productions an annual summer children's program.

The UCLA Law School Series of Dramatic Readings - This series, co-sponsored by the UCLA Law School and Interact Theatre Company, consists of readings of plays with themes related to justice, government, and public responsibility. Ordinarily, one play will be read each semester. During semesters when the "Law and Literature" seminar is offered at the Law School, the reading will usually be a play studied in that seminar. Audiences consist of students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Law School and other UCLA departments, as well as members of the general public. The purposes of the readings are to stimulate discussion of the ethical and societal issues raised by these excellent plays, to help stimulate interdisciplinary consideration of law and the humanities, and to entertain. Readings in the series to date have been:

Rosmersholm, by Henrik Ibsen - Spring 1999

Synopsis:

The play opens one year after the suicide of Rosmer's wife, Beata. Rebecca moved into the family home, Rosmersholm, as a friend of Beata, but she lives there still; it becomes plain that the she and Rosmer are in love, but Rosmer insists throughout the play that their relationship is completely innocent.

Rosmer is a highly respected member of his community and he intends to use his position to support the newly elected government and its reformist, if not revolutionary, agenda. However, when Rosmer announces this to his friend and brother-in-law Kroll, the local schoolmaster, Kroll becomes enraged at what he sees as his friend's betrayal of his ruling-class roots. Kroll then begins an attempt to sabotage Rosmer's plans, confronting him with his relationship with Rebecca and denouncing the pair, initially in guarded terms, in the local newspaper. Rosmer becomes consumed by his guilt, now believing he, rather than mental illness, caused his wife's suicide. He attempts to erase the guilt by erasing the memory of his wife and proposing to Rebecca. However, Rebecca rejects him outright. Kroll accuses her of using Rosmer as a tool to work her own political agenda in the household. She admits that it was she who drove Mrs. Rosmer to deeper depths of insanity and in a way even encouraged her suicide: initially to increase her power over Rosmer, but later because she fell in love with him. However, because of her past she cannot accept Rosmer's marriage proposal.

This leads to the ultimate breakdown in the play where neither Rosmer nor Rebecca can deal with their past crimes—she has acknowledged her part in the destruction of Beata but she has also committed incest with her adopted father while suspecting that he was her natural parent, her suspicion harshly confirmed by Kroll as he attempts to come between the couple—and they can no longer trust each other, or even themselves. Rosmer then asks Rebecca to prove her devotion to him by committing suicide the same way his former wife did, by jumping into the mill-race. As Rebecca calmly seems to agree, issuing instructions about the recovery of her body from the water, Rosmer says he will join her, as he is still in love with her and he cannot conceive of a way in which they can live together. The play concludes with both characters jumping into the mill-race and the housekeeper, Mrs. Helseth, screaming in terror: "The dead woman has taken them".

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