About the Adaptation
"Kelly Lapczynski demonstrates a clear vision and sharp command of the material in her thoughtful adaptation." -- Amy Stumpfl, THE TENNESSEAN
"We are treated to a clear text in Lapczynski's adaptation..." -- Martin Brady, Nashville Scene
" ...often gripping and has a fresh and contemporary flavor through the tight adaptation..." Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
This adaptation was formed, primarily, by the need to avoid casting children and the desire to be, in all other ways, as faithful to Ibsen's intent as possible.
In countless translations of Ibsen's original story, the Helmer children are featured on only a couple of pages -- entering the house for a brief playful moment just prior to Krogstad's arrival, but otherwise absent. The casting of appropriately-aged children who would require hours of backstage monitoring presents more than one problem to any theatre mounting a production of A DOLL'S HOUSE. In this adaptation, the children are suggested -- they are heard offstage as titters, giggles, and responses provided by adult actors in the wings -- but are not seen on stage.
When the nanny, Anne-Marie, brings the children home from their outing, Nora greets them at the unseen outer door. While the nanny busies herself on stage, Nora is heard offstage delighting in the children -- until their desire for a game of Hide and Seek sends her to find a hiding spot in the drawing room. Krogstad's finding Nora crouched under a table remains intact, as does the wonderful contrast of Nora's playful moment with the children prior to his menacing entrance.
Though Nora forgets it in this playful moment, the Christmas tree that she has brought home in the first minutes of the play has (in this adaptation) been brought into the room despite Nora's asking the maid, Helen, to hide it carefully. Because Nora says that the "children mustn't see it before it is decorated," having the unadorned tree in the room, along with the gifts Nora has brought home, helps aid our belief that the children are in the home but are being deliberately kept out of the room by their nanny. (Additionally, a small bit of humor can be wrought in the early moments of the play by the maid failing to find a hiding place and Nora subsequently noticing the obvious tree.)
Despite these two changes -- the visual absence of the children, the early presence of the tree -- the bulk of the adaptation is as near to Ibsen's original intent as can be determined without reading the play in its original language. Multiple translations were compared, line by line and word by word, to find the greatest agreement among them. No attempt to "update" or "modernize" the script has been made -- and none should be made. Torvald is a pure product of the Victorian era and his character fundamentally changes without the context of strict propriety provided by the time. In any other age, his reactions would be completely uncalled for rather than a perfectly correct fear of ruination.
However, on occasion, the language has been somewhat softened. The use of contractions has been allowed in informal conversation (never by servants) for the ease of the actor speaking the lines and the audience hearing them. A few instances of the word "shall" were exchanged for less stilted conjugations of "to be."
This adaptation was first produced in May, 2012 by Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga -- a small, professional theatre in Tennessee (directed by Kelly Lapczynski.) It was produced next in November, 2012 by American Stage Theatre -- a regional, Equity theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida (directed by Seth Gordon, with "modernization" by T. Scott Wooten.) Its third production came in May 2013, presented by Artists Cooperative Theatre -- a Nashville, Tennessee community theatre (directed by Lapczynski.) Its fourth production came in November 2014, presented by Middle Tennessee State University's Department of Theatre (directed by Kyle Kennedy) -- the show's first college production.
As a faithful reproduction, the play is written in three acts, each roughly 45 minutes in length. Cuts for time may be made in production.
Listen to a discussion of the adaptation process with the Inexplicable Dumb Show Podcast.
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