The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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Hedda Gabler in Maltese… restaged after 44 years

Tuesday, 21 May 2024, 13:58 Last update: about 23 days ago

Words: Audrey Rose Mizzi

After a hiatus of 44 years, Henrik Ibsen's timeless masterpiece, Hedda Gabler, returns to the Maltese stage in a groundbreaking new translation and adaptation. Premiering at Spazju Kreattiv in Valletta this weekend, this production marks a significant cultural moment as the classic play is translated into Maltese and reimagined for contemporary audiences.

Under the direction of theatre director Daniel Azzopardi, and with the skilled translation of Simone Spiteri, Hedda Gabler takes on a fresh resonance, reflecting the nuances and sensibilities of Maltese culture while staying true to Ibsen's original vision. For Azzopardi, the decision to undertake this adaptation was driven by a desire to make Ibsen's work more accessible and relevant to Maltese audiences while also generating more classical work in Maltese. "Henrik Ibsen's exploration of power, manipulation, and the constraints of societal expectations is universal," Azzopardi explains. "By translating and adapting 'Hedda Gabler' into Maltese, we hope to bring these themes closer to home and spark meaningful conversations within our community."

Simone Spiteri, the translator and adaptor of the Maltese version of Ibsen's classic, faced the daunting task of capturing the essence of Ibsen's text while infusing it with the cadence and idiosyncrasies of the Maltese language. "Translating a classic work like 'Hedda Gabler' requires a delicate balance," Spiteri remarks. "We aimed to retain the integrity of the original while ensuring that it resonated authentically with Maltese audiences." The adaptation process involved more than simply translating the dialogue; it required a deep understanding of the cultural context in which the play would be performed. Spiteri worked closely with Azzopardi and the cast to refine the script, incorporating local references and nuances to enrich the audience's experience.

Central to the success of any theatrical production is the director's vision, and Azzopardi's approach to Hedda Gabler is characterised by a commitment to authenticity and emotional depth."By placing the characters in a distinctly Maltese setting, we hope to highlight the universal struggles they face and invite audiences to engage with the material on a personal level," Azzopardi explains. The casting also played a role in the initial stages of this production, with Azzopardi selecting a talented ensemble of actors who bring depth and complexity to their roles. These include Kristjana Casha, Joseph Paul Vella, Peter Galea, Paul Portelli, Cassandra Spiteri, Analise Mifsud and Josette Ciappara. At the heart of the play is the enigmatic character of Hedda Gabler, portrayed with poise and intensity by Maltese actress Kristjana Casha. "Hedda Gabler has complex and multifaceted characters," Azzopardi reflects. "It's been a fascinating journey to explore the characters together with the cast, their motivations and inner turmoil. They've all brought something different to the table."

For Azzopardi, Spiteri, and the entire creative team, the premiere represents the culmination of months of hard work and dedication. But beyond the accolades and applause lies a deeper hope-that this adaptation will ignite a newfound appreciation for Ibsen's timeless themes and resonate with audiences for generations to come. Hedda Gabler in Maltese is not just a play; it's a testament to the power of storytelling to transcend time, language, and culture. That's why it's considered a classic.


Hedda Gabler was premiered on 17 May with an extended run until Sunday 26 May. The play is in Maltese with English surtitles available for foreign attendees. More information on www.kreattivita.org.


Photos: Elisa von Brockdorff


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