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.

Bringing Women’s Stories to Life

For Women’s History Month this year, I’d like to highlight the way fiction can take a real person’s life and help fill in the gaps about what we historically know, using imagination in order to bring that person’s story back. In particular, since the historical register generally focuses on men, women’s full lives were often elided or ignored in the historical record, and thus in history class and history books. Here, then, is a small sampling of novels by women writers bringing back to full, bright life women from history.

Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Grounded in decades of research, Walker tells the story of her great-grandmother Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and an enslaved woman on his plantation. Through Vyry’s experiences the reader sees life in pre-Civil War Georgia, wartime deprivation, and the promise and hard reality of Reconstruction. Continue reading “Bringing Women’s Stories to Life”

I Want To Be A Real Princess

Little girls and their princess fascinations…it’s bound to happen. Your daughter or niece becomes completely obsessed with those blinged-out, spoiled, little darlings and you’re stuck with the monotony of it all. Well, thanks to a mom who decided she wanted her daughter to know about real princesses with a bit more gusto and drive than your average damsel in distress, I went on the hunt and tracked down exactly what she needed.

I present to you in all its grandeur the Thinking Girl’s Guide to Real Princesses: Continue reading “I Want To Be A Real Princess”

Just because Women’s History Month is over….

RuthMcGuire
…doesn’t mean that you can’t go on reading about the heroines of our past!  I read a lot of non-fiction, and I can testify that it isn’t necessarily turgid and boring.  Many biographies and histories center around a gripping story and read like fiction, and there are also the joys of well-written and humorous prose.  Here are some options for keeping your women’s history connection going beyond March, with some books that are, first and foremost, great reads! Continue reading “Just because Women’s History Month is over….”

Women in History: Fiction

Women’s History Month is almost over, but it’s never too late to read novels about times past and women who made history.

Daring-Young-Ladies-of-LowellThe Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
After trading the harsh life of farming for a textile factory job in Lowell, Massachusetts, Alice Barrow inadvertently moves into a role as spokesperson for workers’ rights after catching the eye of the mill owners’ son. Packed with details about the textile industry, working conditions and women’s roles in early 19th century life, this moving historical novel is also a complex mystery. Continue reading “Women in History: Fiction”