Seattle Rep’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 – Beyond the Theater

Have you ever wondered what became of a beloved or engaging literary character after the last page turns, or the curtain falls? What happens next? In his award-winning play A Doll’s House, Part 2 – playing at the Seattle Repertory Theater from March 15 to April 28, 2019 – Lucas Hnath applies this curiosity to one of the most startling and provocative endings in all of theater, when Nora Helmer walks out on her husband and family in Henrik Ibsen’s epochal 1879 play A Doll’s House, slamming the door behind her.

Hnath isn’t the first contemporary author to imagine sequels to classic titles.  P.D. James threw a homicidal wrench in the happily-ever-after ending of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with her period mystery Death Comes to Pemberley. Eoin Colfer took a suitably irreverent approach to his hilarious sequel And Another Thing: Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Part Six of Three. In cases where everybody dies at the end, there’s always the prequel, such as with John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius, which provides a more sympathetic take on Hamlet’s mother and father-in-law to be, or Jean Rhys classic Wide Sargasso Sea, a post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre which explores the life of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘madwoman in the attic,’ prior to her life in England as Bertha.

Hedwig Niemann-Raabe, the German Nora who refused to leave her family

Still, there’s something about the abrupt, open-ended ending to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that invites speculation about how things might wind up after the curtain goes down, or if things had gone a different way. In fact, this is not the first time time the play has been revamped. Nora’s final act was so controversial that when the play finally appeared on stage outside of Norway, the leading actress refused to walk out on her family, obliging Ibsen to write a new ending in which Nora decides to and stay, sinking to the floor in tears at the thought she would leave her children “Motherless! Motherless!” Popular Victorian playwright Henry Arthur Jones staged Breaking a Butterfly, a decidedly melodramatic bizarro version of the play in which the wife is a silly thing, and the husband a hero. And then there was Eleanor Marx, the pioneering feminist daughter of Karl Marx who championed Ibsen, and co-wrote (with Israel Zangwill) a own sequel to A Doll’s House – A Doll’s House Repaired  – which ends with Torvald slamming the bedroom door on a contrite Nora.

Eleanor Marx, who brought Nora back home

Both parts of A Doll’s House remain timely and provocative, inviting discussion and further reading. Check our our full list of recommended reading to enhance and extend your experience of Hnath’s and Ibsen’s plays. Here you’ll find filmed versions of A Doll’s House, histories of marriage and of the feminist pursuit of happiness; and various tales of ‘unruly women,’ both fictional and factual.

    ~ Posted by David W.

ACT’s ROMEO + JULIET: Beyond the Theatre

A Contemporary Theatre presents ROMEO + JULIET by William Shakespeare from March 1-31, 2019. Librarians at The Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, videos, and a podcast to enhance your experience of the show.

ACT partnered with leaders in the Deaf community to make their production of Shakespeare’s classic story of young star-crossed lovers American Sign Language (ASL) integrated. The cast features deaf actors, including Joshua Castille as Romeo. Castille and others participated in a panel discussion on deaf actors and the use of ASL in musical theater at the Seattle Public Library back in June 2018. The Deaf Movement and Musical Theater is a podcast recording of that event. For other examples of Deaf Theater and Arts, watch the streaming video The National Theater of the Deaf: Performance and Commentary and check out Signing the Body Poetic: Essays on American Sign Language Literature, a collection of essays and an accompanying DVD that celebrate and analyze ASL artistic expression.

There have been many film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Notable versions include Franco Zeffirelli’s classic 1968 film, Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic and visually rich William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, and Aleta Chappelle’s recent Romeo and Juliet in Harlem, which features a cast of Black and Latinx actors.

Romeo and Juliet has also inspired a number of unique adaptations. Ronit & Jamil is young adult novel in verse set in the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict. Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-path Adventure is a choose your own adventure style reimagining with more than a billion possible storylines. Ronald Wimberly’s graphic novel Prince of Cats (soon to be a movie starring Lakeith Stanfield) follows Tybalt and his crew of Capulets as they move through a stylized 1980’s Brooklyn battling the rival Montagues.

For these suggestions and more, see the complete resource list for ROMEO + JULIET.

~ Posted by Richard V.

Spring into Suspense with these Thrilling Tales!

This Spring, Thrilling Tales – our regular lunch hour Story Time for Grown Ups – will transport you from the psychoanalyst’s couch to the funeral parlor, from suburbia to death row, from the swamp to a magical realm where dragons fly overhead. Join us, won’t you? Admission is free, and brown bag lunches are welcome! All readings begin at 12:05 in the Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium, and are finished well before 1 p.m.

Monday, March 11: The Other Side of the Wall, by Stanley Ellin. Someone had better call the police: Dr. Schwimmer and his patient Albert are about to have a major breakthrough. Also, The Great Silence by Ted Chiang. The humans look to the stars for non-human intelligence, but we parrots are right here. Talk to us!

Monday, March 25: Homicide House, by Day Keene. He married her for her money, but Continue reading “Spring into Suspense with these Thrilling Tales!”

Intiman’s CAUGHT: Beyond the Theatre

Poster for Intiman Theater's Caught by Christopher ChenImagine yourself at an art exhibition viewing the installation of an internationally known artist. This is how the play CAUGHT begins, a compelling work for those who relish unconventional narratives and conceptual art.  The audience is a part, not apart, from the action of a “labyrinthine exploration of truth, art, social justice and cultural appropriation, where nothing is as it first appears.”

You’re here to hear the artist, Lin Bo, give a gallery talk. He is enjoying wide exposure and his work has come to greater prominence because of an article published about him in the New Yorker. Having been imprisoned in China for a single work of art, Lin Bo is telling his side of the story. If you think this sounds sort of like Ai Weiwei, You’re headed in the right direction. Bo’s character was partially based on the dissident artist’s life.

The cast and director of Intiman Theatre's CAUGHT: (from left to right) Narea Kang, Jonelle Jordan, Justin Huertas, director Desdemona Chiang, and Bradford Farwell. Photo by Naomi Ishisaka for Intiman Theatre.
The cast and director of Intiman Theatre’s CAUGHT: (from left to right) Narea Kang, Jonelle Jordan, Justin Huertas, director Desdemona Chiang, and Bradford Farwell. Photo by Naomi Ishisaka for Intiman Theatre.

Lin Bo talks about contemporary art and artists in China. He describes how in China, One Million Artists face censorship and suppression. Scenes of Tiananmen Square, Mao, the Cultural Revolution, uproar and protest spill from his mouth.

Now, imagine yourself caught inside of an ever-changing narrative of multiple viewpoints circling around The Truth and Other Lies. This play, does exactly that, it takes the audience not down but through the “rabbit hole” of perception. Continue reading “Intiman’s CAUGHT: Beyond the Theatre”

And the Winner Is… Books to Movies, 2019

Yep: that’s Cate Blanchett, right here in our library!

If Beale Street Could Talk, First Man, BlacKkKlansman, The Wife, Can You Ever Forgive Me? – many films nominated for Oscars this year – and every year – started off as books. 2019 will be a great year for bookish Seattleites, with film adaptations of both Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, the latter featuring scenes filmed in our own Central library!(Digression: Seattle film buffs have to check out these amazing Then and Now videos featuring side by side reshoots of such classic Seattle set films as Cinderella Liberty and Harry and the Hendersons.)

Here are just a some of the other books coming soon to a theater near you:

Continue reading “And the Winner Is… Books to Movies, 2019”