Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Presents ‘Vital, Raucous Version’ of Ibsen’s Classic ‘Peer Gynt’ Feb. 8-18

The Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department continues its 2017-2017 mainstage season with Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama Peer Gynt, running February 8-18 in Studio 404 of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Center, located at 72 E. 11th St., in Chicago’s South Loop.

Ibsen’s verse drama, based on Norwegian folklore, was originally written in Danish in 1867. It recounts the epic travels of its wandering hero — poet, braggart, liar, womanizer, and outlaw — on a wild and astonishing journey in search of fame and fortune that takes him from the Norwegian mountains to the North African desert and finally home again. It’s an exhilarating tale of a life lived on the edge. Columbia’s production employs a 2007 updated adaptation of the Ibsen play written for the National Theatre of Scotland by Irish playwright Colin Teevan. When the play was later presented at the National Theatre of Great Britain, English drama critic Michael Billington, writing for The Guardian, said: “Its preoccupation with the tyranny of self and the transience of tycoonery could hardly be more up-to-date.”

The show features a 24-person all-student cast and a design/production team of Theatre Department faculty members, alumni, and students. For a full list of cast and crew, click here.

Admission is $10 for the general public; $5 for senior citizens and students from other schools; and FREE for all Columbia students (code: CCCSTU) and faculty (code: TCFAC). For tickets, call 312-369-8330 or click here.

Jeff Ginsberg

“Never have I read a more vital, raucous version of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt than the Colin Teevan adaptation,” says Jeff Ginsberg, director of the Columbia College mainstage production and coordinator of the Theatre Department’s Acting Program. “It is immediate; it is obscene as well as gorgeously poetic, even sentimental. It is fantastic and expressionistic yet also has scenes of intimacy and heartfelt emotional realism. This version has helped me see more clearly and understand the roots of Peer’s need to be ‘Emperor of the World’; the longing and passion and fever to get out of the tiny rural town that has scapegoated and dissed him from early childhood [and to] make something of himself — out of will and vengeance. [This] scoundrel and ‘bad boy’ in his 20s has transformed himself into the quintessential global operator, opportunist, and black marketeer in his 50s. Through all his adventures, he spends the last sections of his ‘Livsreise’ — life’s journey in Norwegian — seeking answers and trying to understand the cost of always going ‘around’ and never ‘through’ his problems and challenges.”

Ginsberg has reset the story’s action from rural Norway to the town of Stoughton, Wisconsin, and updated the action to 1987-2017. “My idea was to set [the story] in one of the small towns on the Wisconsin/Illinois border that still has a large population whose roots are in Norway. Whose landscape seems to me the landscape of the farming community . . . in Scandinavia where Peer fantasizes and dreams. . . . A land of huge roughhewn wooden trolls standing outside of diners and gas-stations. The kitsch of Norwegian gingerbread architecture that is at once stultifying and precious,” Ginsberg says.

The performance schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, February 8, 6:30 PM;
  • Thursday, February 9, 7:30 PM;
  • Friday, February 10, 7:30 PM;
  • Saturday, February 11, 2 and 7 PM;
  • Wednesday-Friday, February 15-17, 7:30 PM;
  • Saturday, February 18, 2 PM (closing).