Department of Theatre to Present A Doll’s House

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on April 11, 2018, No Comments

The East Stroudsburg University Theatre Department will present the 1879 Henrik Ibsen play A Doll’s House April 17-22 in the Smith McFarland Theatre of the Fine and Performing Arts Center, Normal and Marguerite streets, East Stroudsburg.

A Doll’s House had sent shockwaves throughout the entire world at the end of the 19th-century because it dared to question the traditional roles of men and women in society. Ibsen, however, noted that he “must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for women’s rights,” and added that “to me, it has been a question of human rights.”

“When I first read A Doll’s House, I was astounded by the truthfulness of the writing and the acute observation of the human condition,” said Susan P. O’Hearn, professor of theatre at ESU. O’Hearn is directing the theatre department’s production of the drama, using the Frank McGuinness adaptation.

“The play not only looks at the inequalities between men and women in that time period, but also examines what happens when people are confined to particular social classes,” O’Hearn said. “Socially and culturally, society still assigns stereotypes, particularly to men and women.  The audience will see the parallels.”

“My character, Torvald Helmer, is an intelligent, hardworking lawyer who has worked his way up the social ladder and is about to become a bank manager,” said Ian Grant Sallit, a senior from Whitehall, Pa., who is majoring in computer security. “Because of this, he is overly sensitive about other people’s opinions and reacts strongly to petty things.”

Sallit added that Torvald “treats Nora, his wife, as an extension of himself, which is how men from that period learned to view women, and he doesn’t really listen to her or think about what she is thinking.”

“Nora Helmer is intelligent, but immature,” said Gabriella Williams, a freshman from Old Forge, Pa., majoring in theatre and communication, who is playing that character in the production. “She has learned to be creative and manipulative to get what she wants, but she’s an emotional whirlwind who still hasn’t developed her own point of view.

“Nora doesn’t actually take care of the children or the house,” Williams added. “Her job is to be pretty, be an object for the men in her life. The play shows how women, no matter what their social status, were treated at that time. When she finally realizes that she needs to make changes in her life, she’s not sure how to go about it, or how society will react.”

For the ESU production of A Doll’s House, two student designers: scenic designer Emma McDonough, a senior from Matamoros, Pa., majoring in technical theatre and creative writing, and lighting designer Nicole Seul, a senior from Milford, Pa., majoring in technical theatre, did extensive research on the period of the drama in order to create the precise atmosphere needed to enhance the staging.

“I needed to have the right hues for the lights,” Seul said, “and I needed to do a lot of script analysis to be sure that the lighting conveys the emotions of the scenes, and also delineates the different spaces that are a part of the stage design.”

McDonough’s task was to “pare down the elements to the essentials because the director wanted to take a more minimalistic approach to the scenery. Only pieces relevant to the action are used in the production. Overall, there is a feeling of claustrophobia to the space.”

Both student designers agreed that the play resonated with them since they are women who plan to work in technical theatre, an area that is predominately male. “The message of A Doll’s House is still relevant,” Seul said, “because many groups of people are still fighting to be treated equally.”

The production team also includes technical director Christopher Domanski, associate professor of theatre, guest costume designer Fan Zhang, and guest choreographer Tara Coyle.

Curtain times for the ESU production of A Doll’s House are 7:30 p.m. April 17-21 and 2 p.m. April 22. General admission is $12; senior citizens, faculty and staff, with ID, are $10; students with ID) are $7; and youth, 13 and under, are $5. This play is recommended for high school students and above.

Tickets are available online in advance at (credit cards only online). Remaining tickets are available at the box office one hour before curtain on performance dates (cash and checks only at the box office). For other information or reservations, please email or call 570-422-3483.