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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Imagine 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.
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.