Monday, January 28, 2008

Peer Gynt

This weekend I went to see Peer Gynt at the Guthrie. One of the treats I have allowed myself is season tickets to the theater. I have missed live theater in recent years and so when the Guthrie called last fall, I said YES, sign me up!

Peer Gynt was AMAZING. I beleive I read the book in a class on Ibsen at the University many, many moons ago. At least I have a copy of it, and two books on Ibsen, on my bookshelf. However, I have no memory of it at all. I was musing about it with the friend I took along to the play that perhaps I read it in Norwegian and that's why I remember so little ...but I don't own in in Norwegian, so it's going to remain a mystery.

What amazed me the most about this production was the translation. In reading reviews, I learned (or maybe re-learned?) that Peer Gynt as Ibsen wrote it is full of word play, rhymes, jokes and puns. In every English translation up til now, the translators have focused on getting the meaning of the play, keeping it amusing, but not putting in as many rhymes, jokes and plays on words as Ibsen did. I find that quite reasonable, I mean, how can you translate rhymes to rhymes - what are the chances that two words that rhyme in Norwegian are going to rhyme in English? How can you just make up rhymes in English and maintain the meaning of the original text?

Well, Robert Bly did. I still don't know how he did it, but he did, and he did an amazing job of it. (As an aside, who knew Robert Bly - I think of him as the man with drums - is fluent in Norwegian??)

Now I do want to go back and read it in its original format, to further my appreciation and amazement at Bly's miraculous work.

HIGHLY recommend this for those of you in the Twin Cities!

1 comment:

Calandria said...

We saw Peer Gynt too! I forgot to post about it. I've never seen a play like it. Amazing! We loved it.