SKIEN, NORWAY: Arts Council Norway today unveiled ambitious plans for Ibsen Verden (Ibsen World), a 25-acre theme park celebrating the dramatist considered by many to be the father of modern drama, in the town where he was born in 1828. Scheduled to open in the spring of next year (the 150th anniversary of the premiere of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt), the park will offer attendees of all ages a chance to experience the author’s signature blend of piercing social critique and free-floating existential dread in a fun and interactive environment surrounded by southern Norway’s lush lakes and waterways.
“Until now, visitors seeking a quintessentially ‘Ibsen’ experience in Norway had few options,” said Gunhild Molvik, interim director of Arts Council Norway. “At last, Ibsen Verden will offer the playwright’s diehard fans and casual theatregoers alike a distinctive and direct reckoning with the stark psychological naturalism that undergirds Western dramaturgy as we know it. And we’ll be sure that the park’s cafés will serve delicious honey cakes, Ibsen’s favorite sweet.”
Unique attractions planned for Ibsen Verden include a haunted house, inspired by the divisive drama Ghosts, which visitors can exit only via a lethal morphine injection, and a Hedda Gabler shooting gallery in which participants are forced to contemplate the futility of human striving in the vicinity of a loaded weapon. The Master Builder Pavilion, sponsored by Nokia, will offer a free “master class” on brooding over doomed but deeply symbolic structures, with practical take-home tips like the best materials for sky castles.
And no Ibsen experience would be complete without a cathartic door-slamming exhibit, in honor of the stunning climax of A Doll’s House, or Dr. Stockmann’s Water Report, a hair-raising raft excursion through a contaminated lagoon. Park planners aren’t overlooking youngsters in their plans, promising such thrilling rides as Peer Gynt’s Troll Trap and Little Eyolf’s Rat Race.
Previously, Molvik pointed out, Henrik-hungry tourists could only hobnob with dusty scholars at the Ibsen Centre in Oslo; browse through assorted barns at the Telemark Musuem in Venstøp, the farming community where Ibsen spent his tortured adolescence; or trek to the aptly named Grimstad to contemplate the playwright’s miserable years as a pharmacist’s assistant in a harbor town. Added Molvik in an aside, “Or they could see one of his plays, I guess.”