The life of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1826-1908) was significantly marked by his father’s bankruptcy and his family’s social decline. The issue of economic and social ruin and the ensuing problem of social isolation occur in most of Ibsen's plays. At the age of fifteen he had to abandon his dreams to study medicine and was forced to come to terms with the apprenticeships in a town pharmacy. In his limited spare time he wrote poems and painted. The poor pharmacy apprentice faced closed doors into wealthy homes and upper-class circles, which is why he became a rebel against a bourgeois society. Under the influence of progressive revolutionary ideas he wrote his dramatic debut Catilina (1849). His interest in theatre and literature began to intensify after he became a dramaturg at Det Norske Teatret in Bergen and Oslo. After 1857, he lived in Italy and Germany, and returned to Norway as late as in 1891. His plays (Pillars of Society, A Doll’s House, An Enemy of the People, Ghosts, The Lady of the Sea, Hedda Gabler) made a strong impact on European and American drama.
He started writing A Doll’s House in 1878 in Rome, and completed it in the summer of 1879 in Amalfi near Naples. Its printed version was first published in early December 1879. The opening of A Doll’s House followed three weeks after its publication at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. It provoked a heated debate and aroused much controversy due to its presumable obscenity, scandal, infamy. Ibsen was not in the slightest bothered by the negative reception, and reacted to bad reviews by saying: “Devastating criticism delights me ... My enemies are a great help to me - their attacks are so evil that people are rushing in flocks to see why all this yelling.”
Nora lives a seemingly harmonious family life with her husband Torvald Helmer and their three children. A devoted wife, she serves her husband’s wishes and aims to please and entertain him. She is subordinate, obedient, totally dedicated to her husband and family. Torvald patronizes her. He does not see Nora as an equal companion and a partner, but calls her a little lark, little squirrel, little squanderer, strange little thing ... After he becomes a bank manager, it seems that the family fortune will never end. However, Nora is cornered by an unfortunate event from the past. Determined to save her beloved husband’s life she once borrowed a large sum of money from a notary Krogstad and forged her father’s signature. Krogstad begins to blackmail Nora and threatens to expose her secret. Nora hopes for a miracle to happen, so that Torvald would understand her past action, appreciate her sacrifice and protect her from her extortionist and the accusations of society. She hopes this would strengthen his love.
It turns out, however, that Nora and Torvald’s marriage is anything but ideal. In Torvald’s eyes Nora is just a "doll". He is concerned with his reputation and position in society, and does not really care of his wife. He fails to stand by her in a crucial moment. Nora now sees her husband in a completely new light and realizes that he is not the person she wants to live with.
Although the two main themes of Ibsen's Nora are a bourgeois marriage and a position of women in it, the author’s main focus is emancipation and inner growth of an individual (male of female) who rebels against a majority and its rigid social norms. He exposes a conflict between an individual seeking truth and freedom, and a community that represses one’s desires and needs. When one is intellectually freed from a traditional way of thinking, this causes serious conflicts in its surroundings.
Admittedly, it was women characters who were the main fighters for freedom and truth in Ibsen's plays, since they were the most oppressed social group of his time. Despite the fact that since the inception of Nora women have acquired an equal status, our society remains male dominated and maintains many stereotypical views on the role of women in society.
Translator Darko Čuden
Director Nikola Zavišić
Dramaturg Tatjana Doma
Set Designer Irena Kraljić
Costume Designer Mateja Benedetti
Composer Willem Miličević
Language Consultant Jože Volk
Torvald Helmer, a lawyer Vojko Belšak
Nora, his wife Barbara Medvešček
Dr. Rank Bojan Umek
Mrs. Linde Manca Ogorevc
Nils Krogstadt, a notary Andrej Murenc
Opening 25 November 2016
Performance duration 1 hour and 15 minutes. No interval