Pillars of Society

Production: Pillars of Society
Text: Henrik Ibsen
Director: Thys Heydenrych

Scaena theatre

Dates and times:
17 March 2010 19h30
18 March 2010 19h30
19 March 2010 19h30

Computicket (Mimosa Mall and Checkers)

Bookings for block bookings of 10 or more people can be done with Thys Heydenrych (072 235 3191)

Pillars of Society is seen as one of Henrik Ibsen’s inferior plays, but it does show his concern for social and moral problems. It is Ibsen’s first social drama and the plot of the play follows earlier conventions of play writing of the time. In Pillars of Society Ibsen devotes more attention to making the piece logically consistent than to rendering it psychologically true.

Karsten Bernick is at the height of his career with interests in shipping and shipbuilding in a long-established family firm. The richest, most powerful and respected citizen of the community, he is held up as the model of an ideal husband and devoted father. In short, a worthy pillar of society. He is now backing a railway line which is his most ambitious project yet. The railway line will connect the town to the main line and open a fertile valley which he has been secretly buying up. But he began his career with a terrible lie.

As his new project is in the planning stage his past explodes on him. Johan Tønnesen, his wife"s younger brother comes back from America with his half-sister Lona, who once loved and was loved by Bernick. Johan left town 15 years ago to take the blame for Bernick, who was having an affair and was nearly caught with an actress. It was also rumoured that Johan stole money from the Bernicks, but there was no money to take since at the time the Bernick firm had been almost bankrupt.

It was for just this reason that Bernick rejected Lona, and married her sister Betty for money, so that he could rebuild the family business. In the years since Johan left, the town built ever greater rumours of his wickedness, helped by Bernick"s diligent refusal to give any indication of the truth.

This mixture only needs a spark to explode and it gets one when Johan Tønnesen falls in love with Dina Dorf, the young girl who is the daughter of the actress involved in the scandal of 15 years ago and who now lives as a charity case in the Bernick household.

The final line of the play embodies Ibsen’s main theme: The “Pillars of Society” are Truth and Freedom, not any one individual.

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