A Doll’s House is resident choreographer Jo Strømgren’s take on Henrik Ibsen’s immortal drama, performed in English by American artists in a doll’s house. A Doll’s House had its Norwegian premiere at the Oslo Opera House in January 2016, after the production was first performed in Philadelphia in the autumn of 2015.
Ibsen’s A Doll’s House is perhaps the world’s most-performed play. The Jo Strømgren Kompani production remains true to Ibsen’s text, but also provides us with insight into how the characters act beyond the four walls of the home, both before and after their presence in the play. Through a physical, grotesque style, we are exposed to mental anguish and crumbling facades; to the bitter-sweet sting of experience and existential questions. Married life has never been easy – nor will it ever be.
Helmer’s scenic house is a cramped and claustrophobic one – a doll’s house with downscaled rooms and furniture: “When conflict arises on the home front, a house can soon feel too small,” said Jo Strømgren when the production premiered at the Fringe Arts Festival in Philadelphia to a full house. Throughout the performance, the doll’s house is twisted and turned, and new scenic landscapes are created in line with the characters’ development. The rest of the performance space presents an apocalyptic landscape, in which individuals release their innermost thoughts and emotions.
In addition to Nora and Thorvald, the characters of Mrs Linde, Nils Krogstad and Dr. Rank are given significant attention in this version. Actors Suli Holum, Trey Lyford, Leonard C. Haas, Mary Lee Bednarek and Pearce Bunting are all part of the alternative American theatre community, some of whom are based in New York and others in Philadelphia.
Jo Strømgren is a versatile, award-winning dramatic artist, who trained at the Norwegian National Academy of Ballet. The Jo Strømgren Kompani is one of Norway’s most significant cultural exports. Since the company was founded in 1998, they have created 150 productions and toured in over 50 countries. At the Oslo Opera House, Jo Strømgren has created productions that include The Four Seasons and Orpheus and Eurydice, and The Norwegian National Ballet has toured to St. Petersburg and Baden-Baden with his ballets Suite and Lamentate respectively. He has been a resident choreographer with The Norwegian National Ballet since 2013.