Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” walking at Tehran theater

August 8, 2021 - 18:51

TEHRAN – An Iranian troupe put on a reading performance of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” at Tehran’s Mehregan Theater on Sunday evening.

The reading performance was staged by director Parastesh Purmirza based on a Persian translation of the play by Mehdi Forugh.

The reading was performed by a cast composed of Parastesh, Hamzeh Maddah, Zeinab Khatibi, Mehran Yari and Mohammad Moradi.

The troupe will repeat the performance for five other nights.

The play was written in 1881 and first staged in 1882 in Chicago, Illinois, in a production by a Danish company on tour.

“Ghosts” is the story of Helen Alving, a widow who is haunted by the many mistresses of her deceased husband and by her son who has inherited syphilis from his philandering father. 

“Ghosts” is a scathing indictment of Victorian society in which Ibsen refutes the notion that if one simply fulfills one's duty rather than following one’s desires then a good and noble life will be achieved. 

Scandalous in its day for its frank discussion of venereal disease and marriage infidelity, “Ghosts” remains to this day an intense psychological drama and sharp social criticism.

Like many of Ibsen’s plays, “Ghosts” is a scathing commentary on 19th-century morality. Because of its subject matter, which includes religion, venereal disease, incest and euthanasia, it immediately generated strong controversy and negative criticism.

Since then the play has fared better, and is considered a “great play” that historically holds a position of “immense importance”. 

Theater critic Maurice Valency wrote in 1963, “From the standpoint of modern tragedy ‘Ghosts’ strikes off in a new direction… Regular tragedy dealt mainly with the unhappy consequences of breaking the moral code. ‘Ghosts’, on the contrary, deals with the consequences of not breaking it.”

“Ghosts” has been filmed, and adapted for film and television, numerous times in various languages. It was adapted at least three times for silent films. 

In 1915, George Nichols directed a film of the same name for producer D. W. Griffith. 

Also in 1915, it was filmed in Russia, directed and adapted by Vladimir Gardin. In 1918, the Italian production company Milano Films released an adaptation titled “Gli Spettri”, starring Ermete Zacconi and his wife Ines Cristina Zacconi.

Photo: A poster for a reading performance of Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” at Tehran’s Mehregan Theater.


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