Archive for September, 2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

by Ali Yalgin

I have been thinking about Templeton’s article. She criticizes some of the scholars for rejecting that feminism can be an issue sophisticated enough to be a major theme in A Doll’s House, and also in other pieces of art. I do not think that feminism is not important, and also despise the attempts to ignore the question of emancipation of women in “A Doll’s House” altogether. Ibsen’s play is of course not just about women, but about any  individual fight against the oppressive machinery of the society. However, it would not be totally accurate to say that Ibsen used the quest of women only as a dramatic device. I guess the danger of seeing “A Doll’s House” only with its feminist approach would be to overemphasize some points which would result in losing Ibsen’s subtle writing. This is not to say that feminism is not subtle enough and that it cannot be the direct subject of a play. It totally can! But Ibsen (and please correct me if I am wrong) wrote A Doll’s House as a piece bien-fait (well-made play), which means that the plot of the play is carefully constructed with many interwoven subplots. This means that as the cast, the crew, the dramaturg and the director, we have to establish a world as carefully and meticulously as Ibsen wrote the play. The problem with -isms is that they give us a tendency to see everything in black or white. This does not always have to be the case, but there is a danger of tagging something with an -ism and then going in a single direction. I am sure that there have been many productions of “A Doll’s House” before which have neglected Ibsen’s multi-layered world (either due to time constraints or just out of carelessness). We should accept this as a challenge, and try to make our production as rich in terms of variety as possible. The set and the film are going to help us with that, but we as the actors have a great responsibility to make this production as multidimensional as possible. It should have a feminist stance, for the play is about Nora emancipating herself, as opposed to her “being” emancipated. I do not accept that Nora was just a device, but the play is not just about Nora, it is about a broader world.

One interesting thing to think about is the relationship between Torvald and Nora. Torvald loves being in love with Nora. It is even more hurting to think about Torvald’s condescendence when you realize that it is the only kind of love he knows about. Their marriage and love is more complex than one patronizing the other…

A touching scene is in the 3rd act, where Torvald asks if Nora is certain with her decision:

Helmer: You’re clear and certain and abandoning your husband and children?

Nora: Yes I am.

Helmer: Then there’s only one possible explanation.

Nora: What’s that?

Helmer: You don’t love me any more.

Nora: That’s exactly it.

Helmer: Nora! An you can just say it.

Nora: Oh it hurts me so much for you’ve always been so kind to me. But there’s nothing I can do. I don’t love you any more.

 

If Nora’s words are truthful, which I believe they are, Torvald as been kind to her. The problem is that he always assumed a duty of “taking care of her,” because nobody believed that she could do that on her own. Nora does not want to be taken care of anymore, and she is not looking for a protector as a lover, hence her love expires. Also, Nora has just seen the worst side of Torvald, when he attacked her for having shamed him. So, Torvald loves himself first and foremost, and is even more proud of himself when he has Nora and the children to take care of. A reciprocal love has never existed between them.

Before I finish, here’s something that made me think of Nora:

Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage” has a scene where an old woman goes to Marianne, who is a divorce-lawyer, and says that she wants to get divorced because there is no love in their marriage. When Marianne asks if this was always the case, she says yes, and that she has not divorced from her husband before because she waited for children to grow up. She says that her husband has always been nice to her and to the children and that they have the same tastes in music, in art, that they have never argued, but she insists that there has never been any love in their marriage. She would prefer living alone over living with her husband without love. She later confesses that she does not even love her children, and that she is starting to lose sensation in her hands. She has stayed because her husband asked her to do so, but the consequence is that she has lost her feelings…

I would not bother writing all this and have you watch it, but unfortunately the only Youtube video I found has subtitles in Turkish. It would be nice if you could check the film out though-just watch this scene if you don’t have the time!

Here’s the video for those of you speak Turkish (laughs evilly):

Scenes from a Marriage

 

 

Tech and it’s meaning within the play

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

by Kim Solow

Last week, we went over the technical aspects of the play with the Costume Designer, Scenic Designer, Film Designer and Composer. I found the common threads that all the technical aspects tried to achieve in the world of the play were very interesting as well as their individual interpretation of the play.  With the costumes, Nora’s dresses and accessories have a constricting feeling to them and, in the final scene when she leaves, she has a looser dress that allows her to drop this impediment and run free.  In the set, the apartment is cramped, which gives the feeling of compressed space and a close community that can watch their every move. The music also imparts this feeling in some of the songs by a lack of melody, which creates an uneasy feeling and feels as though there’s no space within the room.

There is also the common thread that delves deeper into Torvald and Nora’s relationship than what is present in the text. In the beginning of the play, the set and Nora will be wrapped like a gift and he will walk in and open the apartment and her up.  Nora’s costume for the tarantella conveys a strange sense of how Torvald wants her to look as he shows her off to the other men. Her tarantella costume is also very tight and has strands of material across it that make it seem as though Nora is tightly controlled like a puppet. The video will replay Nora and Krogstad’s interaction so that we can see how her guilt is endless and her fear of Torvald finding out. Similar to the film, there is a song called “Churning,” which imparts a circular feeling though the repetition of the same notes and melodies.

The technical aspects are all very unique and create a fascinating world for this play to take place in. I am excited to see them start to materialize and how they will integrate with the rehearsal process.

A reply to Jules- “How much really has changed since then?”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

by Caitlin O’Neill

I completely agree with your points concerning the prevalence of the stereotyped ‘perfect’ girl mold. As the Herald’s article says, “it’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker” to say that they are beautiful or precious. I think that the unfortunate truth is that beauty maintains a strong lead on intelligence in many of the media-touted images of the world, and thus a strong hold in everyday life. I think that this obsession with physical perfection partially stems from the rather visually-focused nature of humans in general, but there still seems to be a gulf where a ‘socially-deemed attractive’ woman is less valued for her mind than an equally ‘socially-deemed attractive’ man may be. I don’t know how such perceptions can end except possibly through continued examination of them.

http://sites.duke.edu/dukedollshouse/2011/09/18/how-much-really-has-changed-since-then/

Gestures and Energy

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

by Alpha Tessema

Our gesture exercises in rehearsal today got me thinking about the way we channel energy for every movement we make on stage as well as our intentionality. In Stanislavski’s, An actor prepares, he states that every movement we make must have purpose. Even the act of remaining still is an action that has a specific purpose (35).

Having purpose for every action enables us to channel our energy properly. One of the gestures we performed in rehearsals today was looking over our shoulder. When making this gesture, we were instructed to imagine that someone were behind us calling our names. Only after we felt the person appear behind us and heard them calling our names were we to turn our heads and look. The imaginary purpose for looking over our shoulder enabled us to channel our energy into the action in a way that the audience could both see and feel.

 

Gestures and Energy

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

by Alpha Tessema

Our gesture exercises in rehearsal today got me thinking about the way we channel energy for every movement we make on stage as well as our intentionality. In Stanislavski’s, “An Actor Prepares”, he states that every movement we make must have purpose. Even the act of remaining still is an action that has a specific purpose (35).

Having purpose for every action enables us to channel our energy properly. One of the gestures we performed in rehearsals today was looking over our shoulder. When making this gesture, we were instructed to imagine that someone were behind us calling our names. Only after we felt the person appear behind us and heard them calling our names were we to turn our heads and look. The imaginary purpose for looking over our shoulder enabled us to channel our energy into the action in a way that the audience could both see and feel.

Wallpaper

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

In Jim’s discussion about the video scape for the show, there was another mention of “the wallpaper.” Which reminds me of other mentions made over the past couple of weeks of The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Gilman, circal 1900.

The story is told as a series of journal entries in which an unamed female protagonist narrates her encroaching madness embodied by women who she comes to see “living” in the wallpaper of the upper bedroom of the summer home her husband, a doctor, has rented. The narrator is urged to stay in the room by her husband so she can recuperate from depression and “slight hysterical tendencies” (a detail that connect this piece with our trip next week to see In the Next Room). By the end of the story, the narrator has decided that she too is a part of the world of women in the wallpaper and locks herself inside the room (in a complete reversal of Nora’s exit of the house at the end of A Doll’s House) crawling around and around the periphery, pulling off strips of wallpaper almost pushing herself into the walls becoming “one” with her space. When her husband retrieves the key and bursts into the room, he’s so shocked by her state that he faints. Undeterred, she continues making her circuit around the room crawling over his limp body as she goes.

This idea of confinement, an environment coming alive, and madness has been reflected in various illustrations that invoke Gilman’s protagonist and her mental and physical world.

An early illustration (circa 1899) from a publication of the story.

An image from an 1989 installation, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by artist Marlene Angeja.


 

Wrapping Art(work)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Torry mentioned the installation/environmental artist Christo (and his partner Jean-Claude) in her design presentation today. Here are a couple of video clips to give you a sense of the scale and approach of this “wrapping” work.

The first is a time-lapse or “quick motion” video of their wrapping of The Reichstag in Berlin (1995).

The second is an interview by LX TV with Christo and Jean-Claude about their “The Gates” project in Central Park (NYC), 2005.

Just for another view, the installation artist Francis Hines also works with “wrapping” in his work.

Washington Square Arch, 1980.

 

Dance Dance Otherwise We are Lost

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

In tonight’s class Ali mentioned a film (in 3D), with this post’s title, about the amazing Pina Bausch by the German director Wim Wenders. It was screened at the Berlin Film Festival in Feb. 2011. The following is a trailer and you can visit the film’s website for more information.

Bausch’s company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, continues to make and tour work even after Pina’s death in 2009.

Just another clip of Bausch’s work from an Israeli documentary, “One Day Pina Asked Me” from 1983.

http://youtu.be/LxQCNHFMoEA

How much really has changed since then?

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

When I read this article from The Sydney Morning Herald, I couldn’t help but notice how even today we put girls into this picture perfect mold. As the article points out, before girls even reach middle school, they are focused with their physical appearance and are praised every day for it. So it begs the question, how much have we changed since A Doll’s House? We still value beauty and fitting into this mold more than we appreciate intelligent women who can think for themselves. Bloom even says, “What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.” It’s also scary to see that university educated women would rather be attractive than intelligent.

We also discussed in our last class, Theresa Rebeck’s quote in Zinman’s article, “50 ways to leave your Torvald”, about how reality television shows depict beautiful women who strive to be for a rich husband who can take care of them and let them spend all their money. She also acknowledges that, “it’s not necessarily a societal structure now, but it retains power as a cultural fantasy.” I thought this was interesting and it lead me to look into the “Real Housewives of…” series. This show has been running for 22 seasons in 7 different locations. There are even 4 international seasons in the works (Israel, Athens, Vancouver and Brazil). This fantasy of great wealth and allowing the woman to lead a futile life, while she aimlessly spends away her husband’s fortune made the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” the number 1 television show in it’s time slot amongst 19-49 year old viewers.  So even if this lifestyle isn’t as common now as it seems it was in A Doll’s House, people seem to continue to idolize it and with shows like “Millionaire Matchmaker” and “Most Eligible…” they try to make this fantasy, a reality.

After examining these two articles, I really see the need for this production now and hope it can raise some questions for women about where they fit into society and how they wish to be perceived in the future.

Holiest Duties

Monday, September 12th, 2011

by Elena Lagon

According to Emma Goldman, the degree to which Nora is devoted to her husband is almost infinite until the end of the play: “When a woman loves as Nora does, nothing else matters”. She “works hard” to “serve her husband,” yet her purpose is solely to be happy for her family, according to Goldman. Indeed, Torvald says that Nora’s “holiest duties” are to her husband and children and if she is neither the breadwinner, nor a nanny, nor a housekeeper, her only duty may be to be light-hearted.

So which is it? Does Nora take care of her family as a mother should, or is she freed by being cared for so she can be happy for her family? Are her jobs, like the Real Housewives Jules mentioned (a guilty pleasure of mine…), to pleasure her husband, dress her children and beautify herself? I think for Nora, the caring for and being cared for are one in the same.  When she raises her concerns with Torvald, perhaps he is angry at her disruption of the peace more than anything. Nora rips off the facade of happiness put on by many women of the time, and with it, what Torvald sees as her only duty is neglected.

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