"A Doll's House": directing a classic for a contemporary audience

Date

2002-05

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Publisher

Texas Tech University

Abstract

In partial fulfillment of my graduate duties, I submitted a proposal to direct a play in the Texas Tech Theatre Department's Lab Theatre. One of the best pieces of advice I have received on this subject while here at Texas Tech came from Dr. Elizabeth Homan. She suggested that I find a central theme or principle that I wanted to explore through the world of theatre, and then submit five plays that utilized that theme or principle. Then I would be happy no matter what play was picked for production. I took her advice and, therefore, although "A Doll's House" was fourth on my preference list, I was very happy to be directing it.

The central theme behind my choices was an exploration of "myth, magic and the mundane." I have always loved stories that were about larger-than-life people, heroes and gods; yet stories about the daily grind—the mundane bits of life that we see in our own world—are the ones that best hit home. When you can find a playwright who can combine the mythical themes with a mundane atmosphere—you have found magic.

Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" certainly qualifies, as he uses the mundane surroundings of a typical family at Christmas time to explore the magical realms of human fulfillment and identify within society. Nora, the lead character, best embodies this journey to the center of the soul, but each of the characters in this play is walking this path somehow.

My central goal in the production of this play was to present a classic play with elements of both the mythical and the mundane and make it relevant to a contemporary audience. One of the challenges of presentmg this play to today's audiences was fighting the assumption that "classic" plays hold little bearing on the world of a contemporary audience. Many people, especially in a college setting, tend to assume that old chestnuts will be boring and have little to no application in our modern world. It would be easy to see this play as being about a social problem, a woman's role in society, that a contemporary audience might feel had already been addressed and was therefore irrelevant. However, this play has a much deeper meaning that I didn't want the audience to miss out on. Therefore, I felt that one of my first objectives should be to make the relevancy of this play accessible to this audience. I did not want the audience to get so caught up in the historical aspects of the show that they neglected to hear the story. I needed to find a way to make the story of these people from 1879 connect to audience members in 2002.

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Keywords

Theater -- Production and direction, Ibsen, Henrik, 1828-1906. Dukkehjem. English

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