Pacific’s Theatre Department spring semester production, “A Doll’s House,” illustrated months of hard work coming together in success through four performances last weekend.
The play, written by Henrik Ibsen and first performed in 1879, was controversial at the time of its release. This story of a young woman struggling with her roles as a wife and mother delves into issues such as sexism and role acceptance.
Norma Helmer, played by senior Katie Mortemore, feels trapped by the expectations placed onto her by others. As the tension builds between Nora and her husband throughout the play, it culminates into a dramatic conclusion which prompts questions about major life changes, standing up for oneself and making decisions for your own well-being. Her marriage to Torvald Helmer, played by freshman Jacob Goodyear, starts to disintegrate as her secrets and Torvald’s temper create an unmanageable situation she can no longer endure.
According to Mortemore, she and Goodyear talked a lot about relationships in preparation for their roles.
“I don’t like playing an asshole, but it seems to come across naturally for me,” Goodyear joked after the opening night performance. He continued to explain; although his character is difficult to like, “he’s subject to the times; he’s a product of his society.”
The play also starred junior Janna Tessman as Kristine Linde, junior Valerie Fournier as Ann Marie, junior Christopher Mikulic as Nils Krogstad, junior Quinn Ramsay as Dr. Rank, freshman Olin Blackmore as a delivery boy, and local child actors as the Helmer’s children.
Director Elizabeth Klinger used local playwright Karin Magaldi’s American English translation for this production of “A Doll’s House”.
“I knew the story well. It has strong, powerful struggles,” said Klinger. “The characters are struggling to define themselves.”
The 1800s play took on a more modern feel in the Tom Miles Theater, adapted and set in the 1960s.
“I always look for plays that will speak to a modern audience,” Magaldi said.
Set designer and Pacific faculty member Tal Sanders helped with the adaptation. The challenge was to bring the play to a modern audience while still staying true to the text. Sanders, along with the rest of the crew, decided on this more modern time period because it was still believable to see spouses act this way at this time, he said. In the 1960s, there was still evidence of the type of relationship between husband and wife explored in this play.
Pacific’s production of “A Doll’s House” takes place entirely in the Helmer home. Sanders wanted the set to show Nora’s character brought in personal touches, but it wasn’t a warm atmosphere. He used a lot of strict, vertical lines to convey the sense Norma felt of being caged up.
It was a team effort to bring the play to life and behind-the-scenes crew members worked hard to ensure the performance would go off without a hitch. Other essential players included costume designer Caitlin Quinn, choreographer Kristie Reddick, stage manager and sound board operator Kelsie Johnson, hair and makeup artist Shelby Thurman, assistant stage manager Sam Stein, house manager Heather Hale, light board operator Briana Tiano-Mohr, department photographer Mark Fukui and many others.