DOLL’S HOUSE: a Contemporary Adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Play

Doll's House posterMarch 5 — Hobbs, NM.


Henrik Ibsen wrote a DOLL’S HOUSE in 1879, and changed the world in which he lived, and the world in which we live, as well. A DOLL’S HOUSE is considered by many to be the first play of the Modern Realistic Theatre. At the time it was written, this play posed such disturbing questions about society, morality, marriage, and the roles of men and women is such a context, that Ibsen very quickly became a major catalyst in the movement for all of Europe. He also became a major catalyst in the movement for women’s rights extending all the way down to the present day.

Yet Ibsen never considered himself as a feminist, and specifically stated: “I must decline the honor of being said to have worked for the Women’s Rights Movement. I am not even very sure what Women’s Rights are. To me it has been a question of human rights.” Whatever his motives, A DOLL’S HOUSE was literally banned in entire countries. In many respects this play “broke the back” of Victorianism. It did not, however, succeed in killing Victorianism, which remains alive and well to this very day.

As such, this current NMJC production of DOLL’S HOUSE, a contemporary adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, is not simply a museum-piece revival of a musty, old classic. Although the original version of this work was written almost a hundred and twenty-five year ago, it is rather alarming to see how closely it resembles or current society in 2004. With the exception of modernized language, this contemporary adaptation makes only two significant changes in Ibsen’s story: a more medically accurate depiction of Dr. Rank’s illness, and the fact that in 1879, women were literally considered as the property of their husbands or their fathers. But before we get too smug about this second point, it is worth noting that a woman’s promise to “love, honor, and obey” her husband has only evaporated from our contemporary marriage vows in the last forty years---and the words, “Who gives this woman away?” are still a part of the ceremony. Does any clergyman ever ask that question with regard to the Groom? Ibsen’s play is not just a window into some quaint period of history; it’s a window into our lives right now, right here, in 2004.

John R. Rice: Director

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