Jessamyn Svensson is a theatre student at Utah Valley University making her Plan-B debut as Regina Engstrand in the Script-In-Hand Series reading of Henrik Ibsen’s GHOSTS, in a new translation by Eric Samuelsen.
Regina Engstrand is, to me, a desperately hopeful individual — a state of being that any person is familiar with, whether we are trying to quell it in order to not get our hopes up too high, or something we cling to like addicts because maybe, just maybe, holding onto that feeling will get us to the end of the day.
Having said that, I feel like the presence of hopeful desperation in a person, especially a woman during the time and place GHOSTS is set [Victorian Norway], is very interesting. It’s what drives Regina to do the things that she does which seem contradictory throughout the course of the play; she peppers her language with French to try and (1) prove to Oswald that she is his match, and (2) elevate herself in order to more fully separate herself socially from her father. She affects her behavior toward Pastor Manders to seem more pious and acts completely subservient to Mrs. Alving.
The fact that a woman during this time could only take her fate into her own hands by the selling of her body, to me, as a modern-day feminist is utterly abhorrent. But that is all marriage is to Regina, an opportunity, a strategic move she makes in order to change her life. An exchange of herself, body-and-all, for a step up the social ladder. Granted, that’s still what marriage is today but now, for the most part, we can marry altruistically; simply because we love. If I had a time machine . . . I would probably be institutionalized as a crazy person, but goodness I would try and change some things.
Reading this marvelous translation by Eric Samuelsen and being part of this reading has given me a lot of reasons to value and appreciate the leaps the modern world has made in social equality.
The Script-In-Hand Series reading of Eric Samuelsen’s new translation of Henrik Ibsen’s GHOSTS is Sunday, August 25 at 4pm in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre at the Rose Wagner. Tickets are free – click here for more information and to reserve a spot on the wait list.