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The Players Ring to Present A DOLL'S HOUSE this Spring

The Players Ring to Present A DOLL'S HOUSE this Spring

You might think a play written 140 years ago in Norway about a wife's subservience would no longer be relevant in 2019 America. But the director of "A Doll's House," opening April 19 at the Players' Ring in Portsmouth contends Henrik Ibsen's classic play about women's empowerment is as relevant today as it ever was.

The themes of women taking charge as well as questionable financial practices and honesty are all central to this play, which has a woman leaving her husband and children to take control of her own life.

"Things like that are very much on peoples' minds," said Whitney Smith of Northwood, director of the show. "At the time, this was one of the first times a woman had left her husband as opposed to being killed off or staying unhappily."

The adaptation of the Doll's House being performed at the Players' Ring, written in 1937 by renowned playwright Thornton Wilder, has only been produced twice: once the year it was written in Brooklyn, NY, and again in 2016 on Broadway.

In this telling of the story of Nora finding the strength to leave her husband, the adaptation uses fresher language and a more conversational tone. The added emotional nuance that Wilder brings to his scripts is also evident throughout.

"Thornton Wilder tries to make the four main characters all complex and equal to each other," Smith said.

Smith decided to set the play in 1930s America, a time in US history she believes has much in common with the present, with people challenging gender roles and the nation facing the aftermath of a recession. The story also brings up the very timely questions of honesty and morality, she said.

The narrative indicates "that if you don't live with honesty you are left with nothing in your relationships," said Constance Witman of Newfields, the show's producer and a regular with the Ring.

The nine-person cast features Witman as Nora and Paul Strand of Portsmouth as Torvald, a man in finances who is Nora's husband. It also includes 8-year-old Kara Lohndorf of Stratham and 6-year-old Kallie Trottier of Lebanon, Maine.

Witman and Smith originally hoped to put on "A Doll's House, Part 2," a 2017 play written by Lucas Hnath that picks up after Ibsen's A Doll's House ends, telling the story of Nora 15 years later after she returns to her family after leading a full life.

Then they learned that this production was not yet available, they decided to put on "A Doll's House" instead. They are just waiting for the rights to follow it up with "A Doll's House, Part 2."

"A Doll's House" will be performed Friday, April 19 to Sunday, May 5 at the Players' Ring Theatre at 105 Marcy St. in Portsmouth with showtimes 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 pm matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $18 with discounts for students, seniors and Players' Ring members. Reservations can be made at or 603-436-8123.

The Players' Ring, founded in 1992, provides affordable theater space to local production companies with an emphasis on original works.

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