Mar 24, 2009

A Doll's House comes to Liberty

by Emily Defosse

 Travel back to Victorian Norway. The year is 1879. Henrick Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” is a play that examines life in a way that has been viewed by many over the years as controversial.

Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Nelson directed the play, which began performances this past weekend at the Lloyd Theater.
This is the second play directed by Nelson since his return to Liberty as a professor. He graduated in 2001 and returned last semester. His first play upon return was “Fiddler on the Roof” last fall.

“A Doll’s House” focuses on Nora Helmer and her husband, Torvald, who have what appears to be an ideal marriage and a very promising future together.

“It is a realistic play that covers three days around Christmas time in this Norwegian family in 1879,” Nelson said. “Nora has a secret. She borrowed money, and there is basically this unraveling and this family that seems normal and prosperous ... (it takes us on) a great journey that explores marriage, motherhood and the status quo and starts to throw some wrenches in there.”

The theatre department joined with the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, to discuss the play in a lecture last Tuesday evening. During the discussion, Nelson posed a question to those in attendance about how different generations will respond to the play as it deals with marriage and a woman’s role within marriage.

“It is interesting with the attack of marriage and the culture and the fact that many young people are living in divorced homes,” Nelson said.
Nelson said that one of the reasons the department began talkback sessions this year is so the actors and audience can interact and discuss issues like this. He looks forward to audience reactions and being able to see what kind of discussion is sparked after the shows. There will be a talkback session after the performance on March 27.
According to Nelson, the play was so controversial when it was first performed in Germany that Ibsen was forced to write an alternate ending. Over time, the original ending became popular, and is used in Liberty’s performance of the show.

The impact of “A Doll’s House” is found in its examination of culture in an honest and realistic way.

“A lot of people think it is a feminist play, (but) it is more an examination just of life. (Ibsen) did not want to bring prejudice to it,” Nelson said.
Ibsen’s examination of society without prejudice is something that playwright George Bernard Shaw praised Ibsen for, according to Nelson.

“At its time, it was really making a commentary on the roles of men and women and the position of marriage played out. It is a great naturalistic piece, a slice of life,” Nelson said.

Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. was very impressed by Saturday evening’s show.

“I thought the actors displayed incredible skill,” Falwell said.
Senior Josh Acord attended Saturday evening’s performance, as well.

“The play was pretty interesting. It had a way of letting you empathize with each of the major characters, at least to some extent,” Acord said. “And the ending, while controversial, is fitting.”

The show will run March 26-28. There will be a showing every night at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, an additional performance will be held at 2 p.m.
For information on upcoming plays, visit the theatre arts Web site or call the box office at (434) 582-2085.

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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