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.

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!”

New and Notable Northwest Nonfiction – 2019 edition

Are you new to the Northwest, or a lifelong resident looking for some historical perspective? 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for publishing about our region, so let the reading begin!

The University of Washington Press is releasing a number of regionally relevant titles. Explore local fashion with Seattle Style by Clara Berg, which features garments and accessories from the collection at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). In Transit, Jim Kershner looks back at 125+ years of trolleys, trains and buses that have served the region. Sculpture on a Grand Scale by Tyler Sprague explores the work of Jack Christiansen, whose design of the Kingdome combined thin shell concrete with a modern aesthetic. Continue reading “New and Notable Northwest Nonfiction – 2019 edition”

Book-It Repertory Theatre’s AMERICAN JUNKIE: Beyond the Theatre

Book-It Repertory Theatre presents AMERICAN JUNKIE by Tom Hansen, adapted by Jane Jones & Kevin McKeon, directed by Jane Jones, from February 14-March 10, 2019. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books, videos, and music to enhance your experience of the show.

Hansen’s memoir chronicles his heroin addiction and recovery against a backdrop of the Seattle grunge music scene. For more recollections of grunge-era Seattle, check out Everybody Loves Our Town, Mark Yarm’s thick, sprawling oral history of grunge that features interviews with over 250 people, including Tom Hansen. The 1996 documentary Hype! uses concert footage and interviews to examine how grunge moved from a small, independent scene to a massive pop culture phenomenon. Continue reading “Book-It Repertory Theatre’s AMERICAN JUNKIE: Beyond the Theatre”

New Digital Collection Highlights Lives of Seattle Pioneers

This month we’ve launched a new digital collection which reveals a glimpse into the personal lives of some of Seattle’s early pioneers. The Lu Jacobson Collection of Latimer and Denny Family Material includes materials focusing on Alexander Latimer, his wife Sarah Chesney Latimer and their five daughters: Narcissa Latimer Denny, Eliza Alice Latimer Fowler, Harriet Ellen Latimer Stephens, Clara Latimer Bickford, and Emma Chesney Latimer Reynolds.

Narcissa, Alice, Hattie, Clara, and Emma Latimer, circa 1880.

The descendants of the Latimer family played a significant role in the founding of Seattle. Alexander Latimer’s sister, Sarah Latimer, married her first husband, Richard Boren in 1822. Their children, Mary Ann Boren Denny, Carson Dobbins Boren and Louisa Boren, were in the group of Seattle’s first settlers who landed at Alki on November 13, 1851. They were accompanied by Arthur Armstrong Denny (husband to Mary Ann Boren Denny) and David Thomas Denny (soon to be husband to Louisa Boren). Arthur and David were the sons Sarah Latimer’s second husband John Denny from a previous marriage. Continue reading “New Digital Collection Highlights Lives of Seattle Pioneers”