For the past few years, the Pasadena Playhouse archivists have been keeping in touch with the good folks over at ibsen.net, a program of the National Library of Norway under whose auspices they are creating a database of information on all productions of Henrik Ibsen plays, translations and adaptations, all over the world, ever.
About a year ago, they emailed us asking for a list of all the Ibsen productions we had ever staged, and we were able to promptly send one off. So, they’ve got all our productions listed on their searchable website now (And there are LOTS – try visiting www.ibsen.net and searching for “Pasadena Playhouse.” It’s an impressive list.).
More recently, I was reading an early history of the Playhouse covering the years 1917 to 1921, and discovered a whole chapter dealing with a rather controversial production of “An Enemy of the People” we staged during those years. I immediately thought of Ibsen.net, and sent them a copy. The website’s editor, Benedikte Berntzen, was pleased to receive the story, but followed up with an inquiry about the possibility of us sending them any original documents we could spare for their permanent collection at The Ibsen Centre at the University of Oslo.
So, I sent volunteers Nola and Carolyn downstairs to comb our vaults for any extant duplicates of programs related to Ibsen shows. The intrepid volunteers emerged the following week, considerably dustier than when they went in, but bearing a sizable stack of programs and advertisements. They went out in the mail that day, and a few days ago I received an email from Mr. Berntzen confirming that they had received our package and thanking us for the service. Normally, it is not Playhouse policy to release original documents from the Archives, as our history is fragile, valuable and limited (Most people who request information today receive high-quality computer scans of what we have in our records, in order to minimize deterioration and hold on to what we have, while also making as much available to the public as possible).
However, these programs will be preserved in one of Europe’s most significant collections for students of the dramatic arts and Ibsen scholars for generations to come, creating a broader knowledge in the world at large of Pasadena Playhouse, the College of Theatre Arts, and their immense contribution to world theatre.
- Penn Genthner, Playhouse Archivist
Photos: Henrik Ibsen, courtesy of PBS.org; Penn Genthner.