When Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” was first published in the 19th century, it was a great scandal.
The play questioned gender roles within marriage at a time when these roles were considered divinely sanctioned. But not everyone was outraged. The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was enthralled by the script. At the play’s end, when the lead, Nora, leaves her husband, Shaw is said to have called it the “door slam heard round the world.”
Cameron University’s Department of Art, Music and Theatre Arts is preparing to open that door back up and let Nora back in when they premiere “A Doll’s House Part 2” on Thursday at the Cameron University Theatre, 2800 W. Gore.
“A Doll’s House Part 2” was written by Lucas Hnath and had its Broadway premiere in 2017 at the John Golden Theatre. The play brings Nora back into the life of her former husband, Torvald, 15 years after her famous exit. Nora has become a famous feminist novelist and has returned seeking a finalization of her divorce.
This production is the second in what the department is calling the “year of women’s roles.” It stars Joy Christie in the role of Nora, Ciara Renee in the role of Emmy, Abbey Rinestine in the role of Anne Marie and Jared Rey in the role of Torvald.
The play is directed by Scott Richard Klein, the chair of the Theatre Arts Department.
“I like this play a lot because it is a summary of the #MeToo movement, even though it is set in 1890,” Klein said.
Indeed, the play was written and first produced during the height of the recent #MeToo movement. The play examines the roles of gender in society, much like the original, but does so in light of contemporary events.
“I hope this highlights the struggle that women have had with the idea of equality of pay ... even in our own country women weren’t allowed to vote 100 years ago. The students don’t realize this at first until you put it in that historical context,” Klein said.
To prepare the actors for their roles, Klein had them begin by reading through the original. He did this so that they could understand the backgrounds of the characters and where each was coming from in terms of motivation.
For some of these actors, this could be their last play at CU. Christie and Rhinestine will be graduating in the spring of 2020.
“We actually have a big group graduating this year,” Klein said.
For now, all attention is focused on the play at hand as Klein and the actors prepare to take the stage on Thursday.
Audiences can look forward to experiencing the uniqueness of a period piece that is influenced by the modern political climate, one that is contemporary in terms of its publication and relevance.