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.

Seattle Rep’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK: Beyond the Theater

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents THE WOMAN IN BLACK adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill from February 22 to March 24, 2019. The basis for the play, Hill’s novel, is a chilling gothic ghost story set in the remote British moors featuring a solicitor who comes to settle the affairs of a recently deceased client and encounters an unearthly presence terrorizing the townsfolk. For more gothic goodness, check out the novels and films below:

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Stewart’s 1958 novel of romantic suspense follows young Linda Martin as she arrives in the French countryside to nanny for nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy and encounters his enigmatic adult cousin, Raoul.

Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK: Beyond the Theater”

Seattle Rep’s LAST OF THE BOYS: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents LAST OF THE BOYS by Steven Dietz, directed by Braden Abraham, from January 18 to February 10, 2019. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books, films, and music to enhance your experience of the show.

Seattle’s prolific and industrious playwright Steven Dietz received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for LAST OF THE BOYS, which was written and first produced in 2004. Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s LAST OF THE BOYS: Beyond the Theatre”

Seattle Rep’s A PEOPLE’S HISTORY: Beyond the Theatre

Poster image for Seattle Rep's A People's HistorySeattle Repertory Theatre presents A PEOPLE’S HISTORY by Mike Daisey, from October 17 to November 25, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and video to enhance your experience of the show: Seattle Rep’s A PEOPLE’S HISTORY: BEYOND THE THEATRE.

Through his discovery of Howard Zinn’s classic work, A People’s History of the United States, public Monologist Mike Daisey has discovered the narrative power of historians to shape events to suit the purposes of their stories.   The narrator can affect our collective understanding of the story. Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s A PEOPLE’S HISTORY: Beyond the Theatre”

Seattle Rep’s A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS: Beyond the Theatre

What happens when a compelling work of fiction is adapted into a script for the stage?  It comes alive!   See for yourself in the Seattle Repertory Theater’s production of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Khalid Hosseini’s tale portrays a 14 year old orphan’s forced marriage to an abusive husband. At first, her relationship with his first wife is strained and then, the women bond around their mutual plight.  Witness how, war, love, death, loyalty and betrayal shape the fate of each character. Continue reading “Seattle Rep’s A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS: Beyond the Theatre”