BETHANY, W.Va. — The Bethany College Theatre will present Henrik Ibsen’s “When We Dead Awaken” February 25-27 at 8 p.m. and February 28 at 2 p.m. The play, Ibsen’s last, is the dreamlike story of the existential crisis of a sculptor (played by local theater legend Hal O’Leary) faced with the end of his career. Performances will be held in Bethany’s Wailes Theatre.
“It is both a delight and a requirement to have an actor of Hal O’Leary’s stature to fulfill this play,” stated Hardt. “Our gifted younger actors will grow from working on this very unusual play, as well as the wealth of talent and experience Hal brings to it. I hope a large audience will attend this rare and exceptional offering.”
Most people who know the name Ibsen think immediately of his monumental realistic works: “A Doll’s House,” “Ghosts,” “An Enemy of the People,” or “Hedda Gabler.” Here, with his final work, he seemed to be re-inventing himself by writing something of an abstract nature. “When We Dead Awaken” is the story of Arnold Rubek (played by guest artist and founder of the Towngate Theatre in Wheeling, W.Va., Hal O’Leary), a sculptor at the end of his career. He has married a much younger woman, Maya (played by Alina Cross), and they quickly become bored with each other. As Rubek reflects on his life, he is haunted by the memory of the model —Irene (played by Megan Oberdoerster)— for the masterpiece that made him famous. She, too, is haunted by their past relationship and her subsequent ill-fated life. Maya is quickly stolen away from Rubek by a much younger, brutal man, Ulfheim (played by Richard Oliver). As Rubek’s regrets overwhelm him he seeks to return to the love of his art, but it may be too late.
Hardt noted that the cast and crew are being as non-realistic as possible in this production. The set suggests the inner workings of Rubek’s mind as a cluttered mountain of regret.
Joey Albus (Lars): a sophomore Theatre major from Beallsville, Ohio
Alina Cross (Maya): a freshman from Weirton, W.Va.
Keith Hardt (Sigurd): a 4th-grade student at Franklin Primary School from Bethany, W.Va.
Lilianna Hardt (Suzannah): a 2nd-grade student at Franklin Primary School from Bethany, W.Va.
Bethany Lewis (Nun): a senior from Williamstown, W.Va.
Megan Oberdoerster (Irene): a sophomore Biology major from Mentor, Ohio
Harold O’Leary (Rubek): special guest actor for this production. O’Leary is the founder and former artistic director of Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre from 1969 to 2008. He has for his credit more than 300 stage productions along with half a dozen films. He taught here at Bethany from 1971 until 1979. Most recently he was inducted in the Wheeling Hall of Fame and is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from West Liberty University.
Richard Oliver (Ulfheim): a freshman Theatre major from Chester, W.Va.
Evan Oslund (Spa Manager): a junior Theatre major from Oakmont, Pa.
Rebecca Burns (Assistant Director/Female Understudy): a freshman Psychology major
Andrew Ferguson (Assistant Stage Manager): a freshman Theatre major from Brilliant, Ohio
Cathy Lally (Assistant Director/Female Understudy): a freshman from Wheeling, W.Va.
Pat McGregor (Stage Manager): a second-year Theatre major from Westerville, Ohio
Stacy Meeks (Box Office Manager): a senior Biology major from East Liverpool, Ohio
Reservations can be made by calling 304.829.7124. Tickets are available by donation. Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.