A plot worthy of Ibsen

I had to close this production blog by sharing a story that I found in The Guardian during the winter break. It seems these events have been burbling in the Norwegian press for a while and were picked up by the British papers as part of a robust UK interest in Ibsen after recent successful productions of his plays in 2011 such as National Theater’s premiere of Emperor and Galilean, Arcola Theatre’s revival of A Doll’s House, and the Jermyn Street Theatre revival of Little Eyolf, starring none other than our recent visiting guest artist, Jonathan Cullen!

The scandal bears all the hallmarks of Ibsen’s dramaturgy if not his actual hand: forged documents including fragments of a “lost” Ibsen play, supposedly titled The Sun God, were bought by collectors and national archives in Norway throughout the 2000s. After much conflict and suspicion over their authenticity within circles of scholars and collectors, police now seem satisfied that all the pieces were the fabrications of a Norwegian scriptwriter and actor named Geir Ove Kvalheim.

In addition to a “signed” first edition of the Ibsen play John Gabriel Borkman, which had a dedication from Ibsen to Edvard Munch, Kvalheim also sold multiple WWII era “artifacts” from Nobel-prize winning author Knut Hamsun (a Nazi sympathizer) to Norway’s national library. His friendships with various Norwegians who worked with the Nazis during the second world war, seemed to have protected him from charges until, according to The Guardian, in a plot twist worthy of Ibsen:

[His] relationship with [Fredrik] Jensen [a former member of the Waffen-SS] broke down after Kvalheim passed the police footage of interviews he had carried out for a documentary, which he claimed proved that Jensen had helped shelter Nazi war criminals. In 2007, Norwegian courts ordered Kvalheim to pay Jensen £40,000 in damages for this claim, which resulted in Jensen being accused in newspapers of sheltering Aribert Heim – the Austrian nicknamed “Dr Death” for his gruesome medical experiments on inmates at the Mauthausen concentration camp – at his home in Málaga, Spain. But by the time Jensen died, aged 90, in July last year, it was believed that Heim had in fact died in Cairo in 1992.

Kvalheim is due to stand trial in April 2012.

Opening the Door

My favorite moment of performing A Doll’s House (and there have been many wonderful moments) is when, after our cast warms up together, I walk down the brightly lit hall, enter the dark backstage area through a door on the right, hike my maid’s skirt up as I climb the stairs and face a large screen, glowing with the yellow wall paper projected on it. Set into this screen is a little gray door. As I quietly pass the dusty books in Mr. Helmer’s library and catch sight of the paper dolls hanging on the walls of the nursery, I feel myself entering another world. The anticipation of entering the stage and entering the Helmers’ living room seem to mesh and as I open the door and walk into the room. The murmers of the audience beyond the brown wrapping that shields the stage from their view fade away and it feels like I’m returning to a place from the past, my past, a kind of memory. I can almost feel the draft coming from the door, smell the musty air and while I feel at home here, nothing in this room is mine and it’s lonely in a way. Then, Mrs. Helmer, Jenny, walks in. And I fix her coat, bring her purse and adjust her hat. There is a moment when it’s us again; we smile and silently wish each other luck. But by the time Jenny walks over to her place  on the other side of the room, I watch her with the mix of admiration, anxiety, resentment and awe that Helene feels for Mrs. Helmer. The music starts, Mrs. Helmer arranges her packages and I pick up my duster and let my mind wander to the place where Helene grew up, the lines blurring between inventing and remembering. The music changes and we freeze as the wrapping comes down.

There is something so special about that room. Well, there was. We tore it down two Sundays ago. But it never really existed to begin with. It was something we held as a cast. Some energy, some imaginary world we inhabited and created together. What I found through our two weeks of performance was that it was always a mix of feeling real and totally pretend, snapping out of character mentally and falling back into the world of the play. I would always leave the stage disappointed with something I forgot and making resolutions to be more on top of things when I entered next. And backstage, I would be going over lines and gestures and trying to prepare. But each time I approached that door, the door to another world, it all kind of fell away and for a moment I wasn’t thinking so much as I was just doing what Helene does and living in the world. Of course there were moments when I would stand on stage listening to Mrs. Helmer and be thinking, “Now you should fidget. Touch your face–wait, almost do it. Now she’s going to say, “I’ve never been more unbored!” But there were also moments when it all felt so natural. Once when Jenny was correcting me about calling her husband the “lawyer” when he was really the “bank director” she seemed more off balance, more over the top than I was used to. And I found myself nervously laughing at her in a very Helene kind of way. And every time she cornered me, desperately warning me to keep Mr. Krogstad’s entrance a secret, there was no time to think about how a line should be said or what I should be doing. I just had to be in the moment, trust my training and character work and do it. I think that was really the goal of the rehearsal process: to learn and practice how to be our characters without thinking too much. To create this other identity we could slip into at a moment’s notice. This identity was so richly developed that I will always think of those moments in that room as a kind of dream, a memory from someone else’s life.

The Beauty of Hindsight

by Caitlin O’Neill


It is one week since A Doll’s House has ended and I still pick up on lines that pop into everyday discussion. Strike was a whirlwind, a quick physical catharsis. But because strike is so quick, the aftereffects of the show persist. All of a sudden, I have broad free moments; with swathes of time I should fill with intellectual pursuits or finishing my homework early. Contrarily, this time will most likely be spent reading arcane and chance articles on the web. There is much to be said for following a structured schedule, not the least of which is that everything becomes so engaging that the hours of missed sleep seem just a natural, small consequence of the bigger whole endeavor one is involved in.

However, I must admit there is one aspect of the show I am completely acclimated to not having. No more emails, which—as Taylor can vouch—I thoroughly detest. I was averaging upwards of 50 to 60 on Mondays and Tuesdays, though obviously not all were related to the A Doll’s House, but those did make up their own little quadrant. (For comparison’s sake, I received just 35 today).

I recognized over the course of the show that audiences did indeed affect performances. Sometimes raucous laughter butted into set patterns of speech, while other shows witnessed deepest quiet for no apparent cause. Audience composition—age, interest, and background with the subject matter—aided in these distinctions.

Some performances were harder than others. By Saturday or Sunday each week, we all started to feel the wear of long nights, but I think our showings still proved strong.

Perhaps not too strangely, by night’s end of our last performance, I was tuckered out. But the show was a success. As expected, the last weekend was packed, with people turned away, a somewhat regrettable sign of our success. If only there were a way to send those unlucky people who missed out on the last performance back to the first weekend! The beauty and curse of hindsight, I suppose.  And so, the end of my semester’s part in a much larger and longer preparation cycle has come.  With my newly acquired hindsight, I know my best decision at the beginning of the semester was to email Ellen about stage managing.

Resonating Performance

I always find that the most rewarding and exciting part of putting on a play is seeing how the audience receives your work and their reactions.  The performance of the show really tied my work on the piece together and it was fascinating to watch the other audience member’s responses. Earlier, I looked at reviews of “A Doll’s House” and examined how the original critiques of the work consisted of issues with Nora’s behavior and decision to leave Torvald.  Throughout the rehearsal process, we discussed how the expectations of women in society have changed.  However, when I saw the show, it was so interesting to see that the audience not only sided with Nora, but hated Torvald. The men and women around me were cringing and looked so uncomfortable after Torvald read Krogstad’s letter. They were appalled by Torvald’s abusive reaction, rather than Nora’s decision to leave. I think the thing that would have been the most shocking to this audience would have been if Nora came back, like in the revised version that Ibsen wrote. Nevertheless, the production was successful in turning the tables and making Torvald out to be the bad guy.


The gestures were also extremely powerful. Nora’s squirrel-like hand trembles really conveyed a sense of urgency and worry. I felt uncomfortable just watching her. Her fast jerky motions as compared to the rest of the cast’s much slower and calmer gestures also intensified her nerves. Ms. Linde especially contradicted her with her steady and smooth actions, tranquil diction and sensible manner when she was next to Nora.


One of the most common threads that I saw in my research of past and current productions of “A Doll’s House” was that productions all over the world aimed to somehow speak to the culture and people of their time period. They tried to push audiences to think about women’s rights and gender inequality in a modern setting, not just the 1800’s. Even productions that were not staged in the modern day, such as this one, tried to put a mirror up and ask how far women have come in society. This performance really succeeded in questioning the audience with the exchanges between Torvald and Nora in Act III, Nora and Linde’s initial discussion in Act I and Nora and Rank’s weird relationship. I talked to the people next to me in the performance and it was clear that the message of the piece really resonated with them.




Act II

by Jenny Madorsky

The beauty of live performance is in the changes. No matter how long and hard one rehearses and prepares for a live performance, things will inevitably change once the lights go up and the audience locks in. Breaking character is no longer an option. Any discomfort, unexpected technical mishap, or personal thoughts/feelings have to be directed into the character and the performance.

I became quite aware of this fact on our opening night. As the play began, Nora’s words flowed from my lips with very little effort, but my mind was in a completely different place. My thoughts raced on a completely different wavelength than Nora’s. “Why is that man yawning? Don’t lock eyes with anyone in the audience. Look at empty chairs instead. Is that my friend in the second row? They aren’t laughing. Why is that man yawning? Oh god, what’s my next line? I’m forgetting my gestures!” All the while, my mouth is telling Mrs. Linde about my trip to Italy. There were moments when I would snap focus back to my fellow scene partner, at which point the lines seemed to go blank in my mind and I would need to find Nora again. Luckily, I found it easy to trust my cast mates to pick the scene back up during these moments. After the shock of opening night, once the novelty of having people watching wore off, I found it much easier to keep in the moment on stage and focus on the people in the scene with me, as opposed to the observers past the fourth wall.

Unfortunately, not all live performance changes are under the actor’s control. Technical mishaps are completely unavoidable, and part of the fun. As an actor, one must learn to react to these accidents in a believable way and not let it detract from the progress of the show. On a Saturday performance during Act II, as Mrs. Linde walked through the door to Nora’s exclamation of “There’s something you must help me with, Kristine!” the Christmas tree fell down. Immediately I replied with “You must help me pick up the Christmas tree!” As the two of us struggled to put the tree upright, the audience burst into laughter, knowing full well that this was probably not part of the play, but relieved that it did not stop the show. Another such example happened on the last show, when the doorknob broke off the exit door. As Mrs. Linde existed to the hallway, Torvald declared “Finally, we got rid of her,” only to hear Mrs. Linde’s frantic knocking on the door once again. “Excuse me, Mr. Helmer, it seems your door is broken. I’m afraid I will need to use your other entrance.” She briskly crossed the room and exited in the back to Torvald’s utter annoyance, and again the audience’s relieved laughter.

It is moments like these that help us, as actors, stay in the moment and remember to think on our feet—or more likely on the characters’ feet. It is the thrill of the changes, discoveries, and accidents that make live performance so exciting. On to Act III…


The first week of performances

by Ali Yalgin

After a set of exhausting tech and dress rehearsals we finally arrived at the opening night. The first time to share the outcome of our hard work with an audience (not counting the few who came during dress rehearsals). Since we have been such an intimate cast, it was quite different to act in front of the other people. Before the opening night performance started, I had questions in my mind such as whether the audience would receive the message we deliver, whether they would laugh here or there or stay still and sink into the complex plot of the play, whether they would leave  confused or with a clear mind, whether they would be bored or entertained, what they would think of our costumes and make-up, etc.

The good news is that the talk back on Saturday night has proved that the audience was on the same page with us. Thanks to the intense dramaturgical and the physical work we have done, we were able to interpret and deliver Ibsen’s piece in a clear way. The audience laughed at a few parts unexpectedly, but also seemed to center with us during serious scenes.

The bad news is that it became challenging to keep the energy level up, since we had been rehearsing for a while and also had a lot of things going on in our lives. Following our Friday night performance where our energy level peaked, we felt it more difficult to concentrate on Saturday night. The mechanics of our work was there, but the energy was different.

Every night has a different level of energy, a different mood, a different audience. It is in the nature of theater to experience each performance differently. Knowing this fact, we as the actors have to acknowledge the new conditions surrounding us, and adjust ourselves to them. This is not to say that we should change the entire blocking each night, and pick up a new character storyline and play with it. That is also a viable option in some productions, but not here and now. The audience is attending to see our performances to see the result of our work, and therefore destroying it completely in order to reconstruct a new play would be slightly unfair (although not absolutely unjustifiable). A better option is to keep the firm base which we have built together, and to make minor adjustments each night. Such would be an example to incorporate a cough to my character when I was almost choked by those coconut macaroons. Or to perhaps pace up a little if the energy of the previous scene was dropping. Most importantly, to keep on working as a collective, and hence to be responsive to the needs of the other actors.

Our pre-show warm-ups have been providing us with a great opportunity to check in with our cast mates to see how they are doing, and to review our physical work, to literally warm our bodies and minds up in order to regenerate the world we have created together many times. We have four more performances, and two days of break before them. We might have another low-energy night, but we can avoid it to be a major energy-slump by keeping ourselves together and continuing to churn in the inside, while holding on to the main mechanism of the play on the outside.

Viewpoints and impacts

by Caitlin O’Neill

Opening night will be upon us in a few hours. After three dress rehearsals, I think I can say we are ready. Let the audiences come in.

I will be backstage during the show, connected via headset to Taylor and the other vital crew in the tech booth. The best of all worlds, as I see it. I watch as the cast readies for their entrances. I stand by the musicians as they play, weaving together the characters’ stories and punctuating the losses and gains. And then I listen to the people speaking into my left ear, and the show comes full circle. I experience it all, slightly confused as the interactions sometimes are, like when I answer a voice from my headset and get a puzzled look from someone next to me who must think I’ve forgotten the natural progression of normal conversation.

The only aspect I cannot see is the audience, that most variable and important factor, whose nightly collective energy subtly affects the play’s composition. Their amusement can slow light cues, while their attentiveness can heighten or quicken or measure out an actor’s interactions and tones. This variability keeps the material fresh and continually engrossing.

As a stage manager, I’ve often found that some tasks just are so much different than I expect. The simple is more complicated than ever imagined and the complicated ends up being the easiest and most entertaining to complete. Time drips patiently and speeds heedlessly, all at once. I know we’ve been preparing for quite a while now—I’ve even got many of the lines memorized to prove it. Yet, didn’t we just have the first rehearsal last week, September? Weren’t those dress rehearsals supposed to happen sometime in November? We’re here already?Gestures learned, cues inputted, entrances timed, stage constructed, props located, costumes sewed, video completed, musicians practiced.

As I said, let the audiences come in. We’re ready for their impact, and to make one of our own.

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.


Money autobiography

A childhood friend of mine who is now a Presbyterian minister had this intriguing link on her FB page today. It was something called a “money autobiography.” This device, developed in 2001 by a financial planner named Richard B. Wagner, poses questions so that individuals can explore the personal and cultural roots of their perceptions about money. Interestingly, in just the limited research I’ve done, I’ve found Wagner’s exercise reprinted almost exclusively by churches as part of programming for parishioners who are struggling with money, communication, and relationships.

So it’s in that vein that I offer Wagner’s questionnaire from which one builds the “money autobiography.” I can’t help but wonder how the characters in A Doll’s House might answer these questions. Ibsen uses a family’s financial (and legal) catastrophe to diagnose the power inequity at the heart of the marriage upon which the family has been built. I’m not quite sure that Wagner’s diagnostic moves much beyond the personal and emotional, but it does raise interesting questions to consider especially in this time of economic turmoil.

To understand your relationship with money, it is important to be aware of your self in the contexts of culture, family, value systems and experience. These questions will help you. This is a process of self-discovery. To fully benefit from this exploration, please address them in writing. You will simply not get the full value from it if you just breeze through and give mental answers. While it is recommended that you first answer these questions by yourself, many people relate that they have enjoyed the experience of sharing them with others who are important to them.

As you answer these questions, be conscious of your feelings, actually describing them in writing as part of your process.


  • What is your first memory of money?
  • What is your happiest moment with Money?
  • Your unhappiest?
  • Name the miscellaneous money messages you received as a child.
  • How were you confronted with the knowledge of differing economic circumstances among people, that there were people “richer” than you and people “poorer” than you?

Cultural heritage:

  • What is your cultural heritage and how has it traditionally interfaced with money?
  • To the best of your knowledge, how has it been impacted by the money forces? Be specific.
  • To the best of your knowledge, does this circumstance have any motive related to Money?
  • Speculate about the manners in which your forebears’ money decisions continue to affect you today?


  • How is/was the subject of Money addressed by your church or the religious traditions of your forebears?
  • What happened to your parents or grandparents during the depression?
  • How did your family communicate about money?
  • How? Be as specific as you can be, but remember that we are more concerned about impacts upon you than historical veracity.
  • When did your family migrate to America (or its current location)?
  • What else do you know about your family’s economic circumstances historically?
  • What was the original primary source of your money?
  • What gifts were shared with others in return for this money? (goods, services, establishments, etc?)

Your parents:

  • How did your mother address Money?
  • Your father?
  • How did they differ in their money attitudes?
  • How did they address Money in their relationship?
  • Did they argue or maintain strict silence?
  • How do you feel about that today?
  • Please do your best to answer the same questions regarding your life or business partner(s) and their parents.

Childhood: Revisited:

  • How did you relate to Money as a child?
  • Did you feel “poor” or “rich”?
  • Were you anxious about Money?
  • Did you receive an allowance?


  • When did you first acquire a credit card?
  • What did it represent to you when you first held it in your hands?
  • Describe your feelings about credit.
  • Do you have trouble living within your means?
  • Do you have debt?


  • Have your attitudes shifted during your adult life?
  • Why did you choose your personal path?
  • Would you do it again?
  • Describe your feelings about credit.

Adult attitudes:

  • Are you Money motivated?
  • If so, please explain why? If not, why not?
  • How do you feel about your present financial situation?
  • Are you financially fearful or resentful? How do you feel about that?
  • Will you inherit Money? How does that make you feel?
  • If you are well off today, how do you feel about the Money situations of others?
  • If you feel poor, same question.
  • How do you feel about begging? Welfare?
  • If you are well off today, why are you working?
  • Do you worry about your financial future?
  • Are you generous or stingy? Do you treat? Do you tip?
  • Do you give more than you receive or the reverse? Would others agree?
  • Could you ask a close relative for a business loan? For rent/grocery money?
  • Could you subsidize a non-related friend? How would you feel if that friend bought something you deemed frivolous?
  • Do you judge others by how you perceive they deal with their Money?
  • Do you feel guilty about your prosperity?
  • Are your siblings prosperous?
  • What does the word “retirement” mean to you?
  • What part does Money play in your spiritual life?
  • Do you “live” your Money values?


  • What is your income from all sources?
  • Is your income reliable?
  • What are possible threats to your income?
  • Do you have contingency plans in the event your income is disrupted for any reason?
  • What is your net worth? (The sum total of the sale value of all of your assets less your debts.)
  • What sorts of assets do you own?
  • What is the purpose of these assets?
  • Do you understand the financial implications of these assets? (i.e., what is a bond? What is a stock? What is a collectible? What is real estate? What are commodities? What is a“start-up”? What is an IRA or other pension oriented account type? Etc.)
  • Do you have insurance sufficient to meet anticipatable, foreseeable, not easily absorbable risks?
  • Do you understand the financial implications of an extended life span?
  • Do you have a will? Do you have documents explaining your intentions for personal care in the event of a debilitating illness? For administration of your assets?
  • If you own a business or people are relying upon your continued life, do you have a succession plan?
  • Do you have people you can trust in your life?
  • Do you understand how money works?
  • Are you carrying debt of any sort? Why?
  • Are you having trouble paying your bills?
  • Have you analyzed your spending patterns/habits?
  • How many credit cards do you have? Why?

As you look around at your possessions:

  • Do you understand why you bought each one?
  • Do you understand its current value to you?
  • Do you wish you had your money back?

There may be other useful questions to pose to you. Others may occur to you as you progress through your life’s journey. The point is to know and understand your personal money issues and their ramifications for your life, work and personal mission. This will be a “work in progress” with answers being both complex and incomplete. Just incorporate the fine tuning into your life’s processes and practices and share the good ones with us or others.

Wager is linked with WorthLiving LLC and the Nazrudin Project, a group of financial planners inspired by Jacob Needleman’s 1991 book Money and the Meaning of Life and organized by George Kinder. The Nazrudins turned questions of financial planning (esp. for retirement) inward, away from “how much do I need?” to “what will bring me satisfaction and joy?”

Nora, Leaving Torvald

In our research for the Nora “biography,” a version of this will be in the program and on the LINK wall, Kim and I found a video project titled Nora, Leaving Torvald. This nine minute film ran at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto in October 2010, sponsored by Laluqu Atelier Gallery and Blackcurrent Productions. The piece was shot at Hillbrow Grand Masons Lodge, South Africa. It stars Steve Pillemer as Torvald and Mbali Kgosidinsi. Directed by Myer Taub with Nadine Hutton as Director of Photography and editor.