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April 15, 2021

A Peek Into Social Constructs: SVSU’s reimagined “A Doll House” explores timeless themes in 1950s setting

Love and marriage. Immorality. Gender. Individual vs. society.  

Henrik Ibsen’s landmark drama “A Doll House” stirred significant controversy when it was introduced in 1879. SVSU’s adaptation of Ibsen’s classic offers a look into enduring social constructs through the lens of a 1950s television show, complete with commercials.   

SVSU’s adaptation of the three-act play explores the marital and social dynamics through the relationship between Torvald Helmer and his wife, Nora. As the couple prepare to celebrate Torvald’s promotion, a pair of visitors, Christine Linde and Nils Krogstad, force Nora to face her past, re-examine her present, and take action to escape her black-and-white world and unlock her future.  

The play will be livestreamed today through Saturday, April 14-17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased online. One hour before the performance, ticketholders will be emailed a link where they can watch the performance.  

The play is directed by Tommy Wedge, assistant professor of theatre. Peggy Mead-Finizio, assistant professor of theatre, serves as production manager. 

Wedge said he was inspired to transport “A Doll House” to a 1950s television set by Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision.”  

“The first episode was a pastiche of 1950s black-and-white television,” Wedge said. “At the end of the second episode, Wanda’s vision of her world is challenged, and her eyes open to TechniColor. Wanda realizes she has the power to shape her own reality. Society and her role within it are what she chooses to make of it. Everything suddenly clicked.” 

To adapt Ibsen’s play to fit this concept, Wedge cut a third of the play, leaving only the four major characters on stage/screen. The three most prominent supporting characters take center stage in the “commercials” shown between acts. 

Because the production will be live streamed to audiences, the set had to be created a little differently. In a virtual tour posted to Facebook, theatre student Jared Kaufman, who portrays Nils Krogstad in the play, takes us through the set, which recreates a 1950s home, complete with magazines from the period. The set was designed by Jerry Dennis, technical director. 

“It’s a little bit different from our sets that we usually have at SVSU because even though this is a play, we consider this a film set.” 

Each performance will be live streamed through three different cameras using NewTek TriCaster® 860 video equipment. A fourth camera is positioned in the commercial set. 

“'A Doll House’ has remained relevant since this play came out in the late 1800s,” said Megan Meyer, who plays Nora Helmer. “The way we’re doing it as a 1950s sitcom is completely truthful to the way women were still being repressed.” 

“Although we’ve taken many liberties in this adaptation, they are done with love and a profound respect of the original,” Wedge said. “We’re only able to do this because Ibsen’s seminal play is so durable, profound, and universal.” 

For more information on SVSU’s theatre presentation, visit https://www.svsu.edu/theatre/showschedule/.