‘Henrik Ibsen died in 1906, taking the answer of what happened to Nora with him to the grave. Nora was gone once and for all, the author was dead, and from this point, we were left to imagine what became of Nora after she walked out, and many have imagined just this. For Nora’s action was as exotic then as it is now, not to say immoral.
But what about Helmer? Did he just sit in a corner feeling ashamed for the next hundred years or did he become a happier, wilder and greedier man after Nora left – and did he, in reality, end up being a free man rather than a forsaken one?
Helmer Hardcore is the modern-day story of how Helmer went amok once the door had shut behind Nora.’
Jakob Weis, 2007
After discovering Helmer Hardcore in 2012 while translating A Doll’s House for [Foreign Affairs], an international theatre company based in London, I tracked down a copy of the play and contacted the author, Jakob Weis. With his permission, I began translating the play during my BCLT mentorship with Barbara Haveland, who at the time was working on translating the new Penguin Ibsen series. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as her expertise and passion for Ibsen proved to be a wonderful asset. Ibsen’s influence on Weis quickly became obvious, evidenced not only by the subtle touches scattered throughout the play, but also by the echoes of Ibsen’s voice found in the language, rhythm and structure of this modern-day sequel to A Doll’s House.
Jakob Weis is a highly productive writer in Denmark, having produced over thirty works since his debut in 1992. He has twice been awarded the coveted Reumert Prize for Best Danish Dramatist, winning in 2007 and 2011, and has also taken home a number of Reumerts for Best Manuscript over the years, including for Helmer Hardcore. Few Danish dramatists get the opportunity to see their work performed in the UK and this event will be an important step towards that goal, with The Helmer Project scheduled for production in the spring of 2015, a project which will see [Foreign Affairs] performing A Doll’s House and Helmer Hardcore in repertory in London. More details on the November event and the upcoming production can be found at www.foreignaffairs.org.uk/productions/the-helmer-project.
As part of 5 Days of [Foreign Affairs], a festival of theatre in the heart of London, 13 – 14 November are dedicated to Helmer Hardcore, featuring a rehearsed reading of the play, a live trailer for The Helmer Project, followed by talks with the author, translator and an impressive group of speakers. Special thanks to Danske Dramatikere for supporting the translation of Helmer Hardcore and to the Danish Arts Foundation for supporting Jakob Weis’ trip to London for the purpose of this event.