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December 4, 2020

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‘A Doll’s House’ gets modern makeover

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center’s “A Doll’s House” is making a return to the stage, inviting audiences to “think about a classic topic from a contemporary angle.”

The three-act play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, which exams the relationship between men and women, first premiered in Copenhagen, Denmark, over 140 years ago.

The story centers on an ordinary 19th-century Norwegian family. Nora is the wife of Torvald Helmer, a newly promoted bank manager.

Nora’s old school friend Kristine Linde visits her on Christmas Eve, during which Nora tells Kristine a secret that she faked her dead father’s signature in order to illegally obtain a loan to save her husband’s life.

The man who collects the debt payments is Nils Krogstad, who was once Helmer’s colleague but got fired by Helmer after his promotion. Krogstad blackmails Nora, which is followed by a drama that upends the family’s seemingly normal life.

“It’s a classic play with a classic theme, but ‘A Doll’s House’ shows different characteristics in different eras,” said Wang Huan, director of the play.

Wang thinks Ibsen’s work is more than a production supporting feminism.

“My interpretation of the theme of the play is about a person’s growth in marriage and the ability of self-dominance,” said Wang.

“When I’m dealing with a play, no matter classic or original, I want to, and I can only, borrow experience from myself and my era. This version of ‘A Doll’s House’ is contemporary and of Chinese style.”

Wang’s version by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center was first staged at the center’s smaller theater last year. The new round of performances will be presented in the 530-seat main theater.

Wang said audiences can expect a new look from the play, including a unique stage setting of a well-furnished home. There is no space division in the apartment and all furniture is painted white as if there is no secret. Electronic music replaces the traditional warm and tender background music during the Christmas party.

Date: December 5 and 11, 7:30pm;
December 6 and 13, 2pm

Tickets: 180-380 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center

Address: 288 Anfu Road


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