On April 2-6, the Duke University Department of Theater Studies will present the Triangle-area premiere of Gint, contemporary American playwright and two-time Obie Award winner Romulus Linney's 1998 retelling of the 1867 poetic drama Peer Gynt by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). Duke Theater Studies faculty member Christine Morris will direct this ambitious collegiate production in the Sheafer Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke University's West Campus in Durham, North Carolina.
According to preshow publicity, "[Gint] unfolds like a strange dream, beginning with Pete Gint, a young man in the Appalachian Mountains in 1917, and follows Pete as he leaves the mountains, goes out into the world, becomes an old man, and begins a nightmarish journey home."
In her Director's Notes, Christine Morris writes, "In Gint, ...the starkness of the Norwegian mountain setting is transferred to Appalachia, Peer becomes Pete [Duke sophomore Rob Painter], trolls become razorback hogs, Morocco is transformed to California, Solveig is Sally Vicks [Duke sophomore Sarah Brodeur], but the essential human truth of the story remains unchanged. Linney's great love of language, the theater, and actors are all evident in Gint, as well as in the rest of his vast body of work."
Morris adds, "During our rehearsal process, we were fortunate to have Mr. Linney in residence for several days, when he shared with us three important things to remember when doing his plays: 'Relax. Be precise. Be fierce.' His openness, insights, and humor were gifts we will long treasure."
Duke senior Christina Cummings plays Pete Gint's mother, Oldie Momma. Six other Duke students — Dana Berger, Tommy Hoang, Caroline Patterson, David A. Russell, Carrie Shepard, and Trey Sherard — play multiple parts.
Besides Morris, the show's production team includes set designer Jan Chambers, assistant set designer Amit Mahtaney, costume designer Kay Webb, lighting designer Jesse Belsky, fight director Jeff A.R. Jones, and musical directors Joe Newberry and Julie Oliver.
In Shepherd Express of Milwaukee, Gordon Spencer wrote, "Linney transposed most of [Peer Gynt] to 20th-century Appalachia, where Pete Gint is a bragging young wastrel who much loves and is loved by his aging mother Oldie. But he runs off with another man's bride and quickly discards her. Sought as an outlaw, he falls in love with the pure Sally Vicks, who sees something good in him. Thereafter he encounters menacing perils, escaping partly by wit, partly by accident. More than 50 years later, rich and powerful, he is still subject to accidental natural and unnatural vicissitudes. Ceaselessly lacking true self-knowledge, Pete Gint returns to his birthplace where he gets a glimmer of who he really is."
According to The Journal of the Ibsen Society of America, "Gint is a celebration and re-creation of Peer Gynt.... [T]he play is both utterly faithful to its original and a joy in itself." Klassekampen (Norway) agreed: "The play has speed and humor. Romulus Linney has been loyal, almost reverent, to Ibsen's text."
Gordon Spencer of the Shepherd Express added: "Behold a small miracle!... This version of the story can clearly and dramatically involve today's audience, perhaps even more so than Peer Gynt."
The Duke University Department of Theater Studies presents Gint Wednesday-Saturday, April 2-5, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m. in the Sheafer Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke University's West Campus in Durham, North Carolina. $8 ($6 students and seniors). 919/684-4444 or http://www.tickets.duke.edu/. http://www.duke.edu/web/dukeplayers/GINT/GINT.html.