1960s version of ‘A Doll’s House’ to stage Feb. 12-16 at WCU

Feb 10, 2014
Performing in 'A Doll’s House' staging at Western Carolina University Feb. 12-16 will be, seated from left, Amerie Rose Caitlyn as Natalie Helms and Ellen Dyar as Nora Helms, and, standing from left, Phil Culton as Dr. Murray and Drew Starkey as David Helms.

CULLOWHEE – New York City in 1962 – a time when feminism was beginning to put the brakes on patriarchy – will be the setting of the version of “A Doll’s House” to stage at Western Carolina University from Wednesday through Sunday, Feb. 12-16.



Part of WCU’s 2013-14 Stage and Screen Mainstage Season, the show will be performed in Hoey Auditorium nightly at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12-15 and at 3 p.m. Feb. 16.


Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 “A Doll’s House,” one of the world’s most performed plays, reveals the love, deceptions – and self-deceptions – that lead a woman with few alternatives to re-evaluate her identity as a wife and mother. The character Nora, who has been objectified, centers her life on pleasing her husband but struggles with not knowing who she is as an individual. Meanwhile, her friend, a self-sufficient pragmatist who has a career, yearns for the companionship of a romantic relationship.


Ibsen based the play on a good friend who had forged a check to pay back a loan she took out to save her husband, who was ill. When caught, her husband demanded a divorce. She was committed to an insane asylum, and, a few years later, returned to the marriage.


Having declined to help his friend, Ibsen felt guilty and wanted to explore in the play what it would take for a woman to walk away from her husband and children, and stand on her own, said Brenda Lilly, assistant professor of stage and screen and the WCU show’s director. Intrigued by the story’s feminist threads, Lilly adapted the script to set the play in a more contemporary time that coincided with a resurgence of feminism.


“The play fit the early 1960s – a time when women commonly wore Merry Widows, a modern, sexier type of corset that created a similar silhouette to the 1800s female image,” said Lilly, an experienced actor, screenwriter, playwright and producer. “High heels added a new dimension of fashion torture.  It also was a time when an unmarried woman was an unusual thing and when women were not allowed to get loans without their husband’s permission.”


Lilly said she enjoyed adapting the play and exploring the story in a new context, as well as making the play a bit sexier.


“When this play was written and Nora slams the door at the end, it was the birth of modern drama,” said Lilly. “I hope the door slam will still have that kind of impact.”


Lilly has worked as a writer on series including “Big,” “Shades of L.A.,” “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” “L.A. Law,” “Christy,” “Walker: Texas Ranger,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Bobby’s World,” “Second Noah,” “Fame L.A.” and “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” She partnered with Hollis Rich to create and produce the critically acclaimed coming-of-age series “State of Grace,” which was set in 1960s North Carolina.


The show is connected to WCU’s 2013-14 campuswide interdisciplinary learning theme, “1960s: Take It All In,” in which the campus community has been challenged to reflect on the legacy and lessons of the decade.


Tickets to “A Doll’s House” are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $7 in advance and $10 the day of the show for students. To purchase tickets in advance, visit the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center box office in person, online at bardoartscenter.wcu.edu or call 828-227-2479.

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