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Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828-1906) is a famous Norwegian playwright and is a celebrated national symbol. His plays challenged the social rules of Victorian society and spurred on the Realism art movement. Ibsen wrote his plays in Norwegian and even after translation his plays are still a mastery of craft and are the most performed works after Shakespeare. As such, Ibsen is often referred to as the ‘father of modern drama’. His most notable plays are Peer Gynt (1867), A Doll’s House (1879) and Ghosts (1881).

In 2006 Norway celebrated Ibsen and his works with theatre, dance, music, poetry and art throughout the country and around the world. Even though 2006 was a special year of celebration, the 100th anniversary of Ibsen’s death, here in Norway every year is the year of Ibsen. It seems that each theatrical company is dedicated to having at least one Ibsen production a year. Last year in December, Hålogaland Teater in Tromsø performed Peer Gynt and just four months later a season of Et dukkehjem (A doll’s House) with a role reversal twist. Norwegians just can’t get enough of their cultural icon.

If you are in to theatre and history, the Bergen Museum in Bergen has a special Cultural History collection with an evergreen exhibit on Ibsen (amongst other famous Norwegian artists). There is also the ibsen.net website which is dedicated to the promotion of Ibsen and his works.

And if you are interested in an ‘authentic’ cultural experience why not see one of Ibsens plays in it’s original tongue. Teater Ibsen is a production company that produces only the works of Ibsen. Their playhouse is in Skien, Ibsens birth place, which is south-west of Oslo. (The website is in Norwegian only.)

There are also Ibsen festivals and conferences happening all over the world. Some regulars are:

Commonweal Theatre’s Ibsen Festival in Minneapolis USA

Grimstad Ibseniana in Norway

The International Ibsen Stage Festival in Olso Norway

The Peer Gynt Festival at Vinstra in Gudbrandsdalen Norway