Final Dress

I don’t want to give away the vision that greets the audience when they enter the space, but it does so much to heighten the anticipation for the top of the show.

I’ve been wondering why I’ve been such a Scrooge about holiday commercials showing up on my television screen, but I think it is because it’s been Christmas Eve in our rehearsal room and stage since September! But there is something about seeing this set that makes me feel that holiday giddiness.

So tonight I told a couple of you that I was going to listen carefully and see what I heard more than what I saw, to get back to the root of this thing — the text. I’ll say in advance I’m sorry if was at all annoying, tapping away in the audience.


Gosh that theremin is just the right kind of eerie. A nice counterbalance to the giddiness I just mentioned. A way to signal that I should temper my anticipation because the things that are coming might not all be good, happy.

I’m struck by the picture Torvald paints of the roof tile falling. How does that square with this particular perspective on aesthetics? Is it something horrible that he’s telling her to shock her into realizing? Does it pain him or please him to use such graphic terms.

Great bored husband on the couch, Torvald, while Nora is showing all the toys. “Oh the unbearable suspense,” came across as an indulgence. Something you say because you know she expects it.

Ah, the macaroons. You had such a nice moment looking down at Nora in the chair, Torvald, and she smiles up at you at the end of that exchange about inheritance and her father. Is it seeing her teeth that inspires your interrogation about the candies?

Helene, when you come in and check the stove, is it a chance for you to warm yourself? It dawns on me that the maid’s quarters are probably much chillier than the parlor.

Wow. There is a terrific Real Housewives vibe in this scene between Nora and Kristine. Really terrific changes in dynamic and how you take in what you perceive as insults, Nora and how you look down on what you think is Nora’s story, Kristine.

Nora, do you know you’re making Kristine a bit uncomfortable as you press the line “he didn’t leave you anything?”

Nora, you are so conspiratorial with the line, “You didn’t love your husband at all..?” Are you at all genuinely amazed? You have convinced yourself you have married for full and true love. Can you imagine, esp. in Act 1, anyone not doing the same?

“I saved his life.” I really heard this assertion in new ways tonight. I think you say it about 6-7 times in the space of 4 pages.

Ah! “It would be so humiliating and upsetting to him to admit he owed me anything.” I heard this with particular resonance. It’s the foreshadowing of what comes in Act 3, but amazing by Act 3 Nora is so startled by the extent and vigor of his rage.

Love those little finger rolls on “quarterly interest” and “installments,” Nora.

Don’t forget the extra little emphasis on the “e” at the end of “Linde”.

Nice touch to eat a macaroon Krogstad.

I missed “It’s not the first of the month.” It just got rushed a bit. We need it because it confirms what we’re supposed to be realizing about your relationship with Krogstad.

Nora, really nice assertiveness with Krogstad. There was a hint of this backbone in your scene with Kristine, but the idea that the flighty woman from the opening of the act could be this strong was surprising and compelling.

The interrogation about the promissory note was particularly well done. It made me connect the early line of Nora’s “I wouldn’t think about them [the men we’d borrowed money from].” Now we see the aftermath of not thinking about the man from whom you borrowed money.

“Any lawyer knows that.” Hmm. Interesting how both Krogstand and Torvald uses their experience as lawyers to “school” Nora about the workings of the ‘real’ world.

Wow. Terrific work ya’ll. The energy, the overlap but also the clarity and the discoveries. YAY!!


Nice getting the idea about Dr. Rank, Nora. A creeping realization about the solution right in front of you.

What a great break down of the real (?) reason behind why Torvald must get rid of Krogstad. “Boy hood friend … one of those relationships that kicks you in the face… doesn’t hide it in front of those who count.” A whole new layer of Torvald gets made in that speech.

Dr. Rank … what prompts your line, “There’s something I want to say to you.” It got kind of merged into the line before it. Is this the reason you’ve come over? Does her moving away from you give you the courage to say this?

Really great tension between Rank and Nora. The yes yes no no begging and the refusal. “You get nothing from me now.” So simple and so crushing.

Got a great sense of how Nora overwhelms people, physically. Poor Helene almost fell over backwards on the chair and it just gave me the full sense of Nora’s energy washing over her, over us in the audience by proxy.

The suicide imagery has a nice shape to it. The way they take on a new sense of kindred spirits in this scene (the groundwork of this connection laid in Act 1 with the revelation of the mutual forgery) is something that slowly catches the audience.

“Be my own recognizable bird again.” Love these little lines of Torvald’s. He admits, so subtly, that he only recognizes her when she’s a bird, a squirrel, etc. A great foreshadowing of how when all those masks get dropped, he can’t really see her.


Jenny, are you familiar with the silent film actress Theda Bara?

I get such a strong sense of her in the film of your Tarantella dancing.

“Life has taught me not to believe just words.” “Then life has been a good teacher.” There is such a resonance in this exchange. It helps us see why Kristine is so intent on forcing Nora to confront what she’s done with Torvald. It is also a further indication of how much these two characters deserve each other and will be our hope for a union of equals.

“Have you really got the courage?” This sent me back to the discussion with Nora. How many different kinds of  “courage” does Krogstad recognize, believe in?

The imagined lines to Torvald demanding the letter back nicely echo the kind of familiar tone Krogstad takes that drives Torvald crazy. Nice.

A great oafish drunk, Torvald! You’re making me wanna just punch you. Good. A magnification of his puffed up personality from earlier Acts. The knitting vs. embroidery exchange was particularly gooey and awful.

Telling little slip of the tongue, Rank. “Let your child … wife wear what she wants.”

The pointing to the cushion as if she’s a dog … whoa. That’s low. And right on the money. (There I go using financial metaphors!)

I got such a sense of how much Torvald manages his own feelings and public presentation. Especially during his harangue of Nora when he mentions being still in love … and then stops himself. It’s hard because Ibsen’s made him such a foil, but Torvald is a doll too.

Wow. How the phrase “guide you” goes from ominous to fearful to disgusting in the course of this Act. Torvald first employs it sexually, as he’s managed her performance and then turns it around to the threat/worry that he will be implicated in her crimes and then, when the danger has passed, how he’ll clamp down even more, managing her every move, her rehabilitation into his life.

And we come full circle. “Think of what people will say.” “I can’t think about them. I can only think of what is necessary for me.” And for the first time, we can cheer Nora’s assertion of this kind of selfishness. Previously it was the key to her undoing. Now it is essential to her survival.

Oh this is such good work ya’ll. Such resonance and energy and even though it’s not a “happy” story, it’s so joyfully told. And by that I mean commitment, energy, and intelligence. Now, let’s get the people in here to share it.