Production History – “A Doll’s House”

Authored by Tara Schaefle

1879- World premiere of A Doll’s House at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, directed by H. P. Holst. Betty Hennings originated the role of the protagonist, Nora (William and Kissel). 

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1880- Revised version of A Doll’s House with an alternate ending premiered in Flensburg, Germany. The actress playing Nora, Hedwig Niemann-Raabe, was outraged at the notion that a mother would leave her children and thus refused to perform the play as written. Ibsen decided to avoid the ending being re-written by a lesser dramatist and offered an alternate ending where Nora does not leave. The curtain instead falls after Torvald shows Nora the children and she sinks to the ground. However, after protests at the Residenztheater in Berlin against the “distortion of the play,” Niemann-Raabe  reverted back to the original script (“The Alternative”).

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1884- Although the original script was forbidden to be performed in London, an adaptation of A Doll’s House by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman renamed Breaking a Butterfly premiered at the Princess Theatre in London (“Breaking a Butterfly”).

 1889- American début on Broadway at the Palmer’s Theatre (William and Kissel).

 1973- Two films versions of A Doll’s House are released, one by British director Patrick Garland (screenplay written by Christopher Hampton based on Ibsen’s original script) and the other by American director Joseph Losey (screenplay written by David Mercer based on Ibsen’s original script) (William and Kissel).

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2007- Directed by Lee Breur, the avant-garde Mabou Mines theatre company played a production of A Doll’s House at the Edinburgh Festival in which dwarves played all the male roles to play with the gender bias in Nora’s society. This radical rendition increased the ludicrousness of Torvald’s insistence on patronizing his “poor little Nora” (“Mabou”).

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For a closer look at Mabou Mines’ production, go to

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8yVqifRCwE

2013- The Young Vic Theatre is currently putting on a production of A Doll’s House that has received extensive critical acclaim, both for acting and direction. Deemed “a bracing vision of sacrifice and conscience”, the production is “still urgent and harrowing” despite being set in “a suburban corner of Norway in 1878” (Hitchings).

 

Works Cited

Breaking a Butterfly at Prince’s Theatre.” National Library of Norway. n.p., 28 March 2011. Web. 12 April 2014.

Hitchings, Henry. “A Doll’s House, Young Vic- Review.” London Evening Standard, 10 July 2012. Web. 12 April 2014.

“Mabou Mines Dollhouse.” Mabou Mines. n.p., 2014.  Web. 12 April 2014.

“The Alternative Ending of A Doll’s House.” National Library of Norway. n.p., 30 May 2005. Web. 12 April 2014.

William, Robert and Adam Kissel. “A Doll’s House Study Guide: A Performance History of the   Play.” GradeSaver, 2 August 2008. Web. 12 April 2014