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Bringing themes to life on stage

Last week, KMS English Teachers Alex Crivici and Shayna Miller took a group of students to Northern Stage in White River Junction, VT to see Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Ibsen, known as the father of modern drama, wrote the play as an argument that people should be able to live their own lives without the pressure of social constraints and norms. A Doll’s House revolves around the relationship between Nora Helmer and her husband, Torvald. In her husband’s eyes, Nora is a helpless spendthrift who needs constant looking after, despite the reality that she is a very resourceful and independent woman. Throughout the play, Nora reveals her true self to those around her, and she begins to come to terms with the faults in her marriage. It is only after experiencing the death of a friend and the pity of an enemy that Nora is able to confront her husband about her role in an illegal loan. In the end, she realizes that her life had never been hers, but that she was merely a doll to her father and husband. Stuck in a “doll’s house”, she leaves her husband and children to pursue her own life.

The play explores several themes, including the sacrificial roles of women in the household and the unreliability of appearances. It also raises the question of the law’s role in the well-being of people, and whether rules go hand in hand with morals and values. Many of the students had read the play in an English class, and after viewing it on stage, many of its themes were further brought to light; the students were able to connect Nora’s experience with social constraints present or that they'd observed in their own lives. The takeaway for many students was that one must take responsibility for his/her actions and mistakes, and must also take responsibility for choices they make throughout life.

When asked about the production, student EK Robinson-Leith commented, "I enjoyed Northern Stage’s production of A Doll’s House. The actors were very talented, as they were able to embody the complexity of each of their characters. It was very entertaining to watch because excitement and energy filled the stage. While the play was only performed in one setting, the crew did a fantastic job of creating the scene. It felt as if the audience not just watching the performance, but were a part of the story. We were able to take a closer look at the household life of a young woman in the 1800's, and it really made the play we had read, come to life before our eyes."




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