Following Ibsen around the world

Professor Julie Holledge of the Drama Department at Flinders has received an ARC Discovery Grant for a project that will track performances of works by Henrik Ibsen, the 19th century Norwegian dramatist whose plays are still performed all around the world.

“The overall aim of this project is to account for the extraordinary international success of Ibsen’s plays, and create new knowledge about the mechanisms governing global cultural transmission through the performing arts,” Professor Holledge said.

Professor Holledge said that within Australia, the list of artists associated with Ibsen’s plays reads as a Who’s Who of theatre.

“Cate Blanchett’s recent interpretation of Hedda Gabler for the Sydney Theatre Company (which went on to tour Broadway) is only one example of the Ibsen tradition in Australia,” she said.

Internationally, the project will focus on Ibsen’s play The Doll’s House, tracing its performances from the late nineteenth to the early 21st centuries. To identify these global flows, the project will use time-mapping, a computer-based technology that allows the movements of a cultural artefact to be charted through space and time.

“This represents a major innovation in the application of computer visualisation to research in the creative arts,” Professor Holledge said.

She has already presented research demonstrating some of the benefits from the use of this technology, and the work has attracted international attention in both Ibsen studies and in the use of time-mapping technology in Norway, the US and China.

Professor Holledge’s project will receive $124,000 in funding over three years, and is among 26 projects by Flinders researchers that received a total of nearly $11 million of funding in the latest round of grants from the two major government funding bodies, the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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