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The Controversy of "Ghosts"

With our first performance done and dusted, there’s just one night of Ghosts left, which means one more chance to experience Elemental Theatre’s shocking night of drama. Our first night was a roaring success - our slow-burning first act sets the scene of the uppity but relatable Alving family, which reaches screamingly high tension in the second and third acts.

Scandal is at the heart of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts. Like the more famous Hedda Gabler and A Doll’s House, this is a play which confronts immorality unflinchingly, and demands the same of its actors. Tackling themes such as family, faith and corruption is undoubtedly a challenge for any cast of actors, but demands even more care when the play is updated from the 19th century into 2019.

So, how do we update a play while keeping the integrity of the original themes? How do we lift controversy from one century to another?

Our modern morals and values deviate quite a bit from those Ibsen sought to dissect in Ghosts. In 19th century Denmark, at the time of writing, traditions and taboos were deeply instilled in society. As such, there was plenty of hypocrisy and untold scandal which Ibsen could draw upon: all manner of affairs, secrets and even sexually transmitted diseases were kept firmly behind closed doors. Famously, upon Ibsen’s 1898 performance of the play in Norway, King Oscar II was so scandalised at the subject matter that he strongly reprimanded Ibsen for having written it in the first place.

Nowadays, we think of ourselves as far more enlightened, able to discuss these matters sensibly and openly. But does that hold completely true?

Our show invites you warmly into the Alving household. We sit you down to tea with Mrs Alving, a charming widow, and Father Manders, a bumbling vicar who can’t quite work a computer. We meet Oswald, a young student with a bit of an attitude, and Rachel, a cleaner who dreams of travelling, as well as Engstrand, her boozy father with sky-high ambitions. Don’t we all know people like these in our lives? And yet, somehow, over the course of a single day, tradition and social convention go completely out the window. Terrible secrets are unearthed. Our characters are plagued by a mysterious fire.

It’s clear that this play can, in fact, reach a modern audience. It turns out that Ibsen has drawn upon a single, timeless theme, which can shock and unnerve any audience member, no matter when or where they are.

Every family has its secrets.

We welcome you to join us at 7.30pm, Friday, 20th September 2019, at the John Godber Centre, Hucknall. Tickets are £5 at

Written by Ezra James Fiddimore

Paula Heeley, Ezra Fiddimore and Chris Stevenson in ETC's "Ghosts"


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