The nine-person cast “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen opened this weekend at Oklahoma Christian University’s Judd Theater.
“I thought that this play, especially about a young marriage, would give the students a chance to see what happens when a marriage starts out on the wrong foot,” Phil Reagan, director and professor of communications and theater, said. “Although it’s a negative ending to the play in that regard, we felt it’s a very positive play to see because it shows what not to do in a marriage.”
According to Reagan, this classic drama was chosen to balance out the comedy of last year’s performance of “Pygmalion.” Ibsen is a Norwegian playwriting and according to Reagan is often considered the father of modern drama.
Sophomore Adyson Wessel attended the first performance Thursday night and said that she admired the emotional shift in the character of Nora Helmer.
“A lot of people see it as a feminist work – and I agree with that as well – but I think it’s more about a marriage,” Wessel said. “[Nora’s] eyes are being opened like wait, this isn’t what I want.”
Junior Lauren Bellcock said this play got her thinking about gender roles in marriage.
“Maybe this suggested that it should be more of a partnership and more equal than how marriage has been for a long time traditionally with the man in charge,” Bellcock said.
Senior Jonathan Martin, who played Dr. Rank in the play, said he also recognized the feminist theme.
“I think it’s trying to portray the point that Henrik Ibsen was trying to make writing the play, which was a woman cannot live in a society with rules made by men and having female behavior being judged by a male perspective,” Martin said. “My professor called it a feminist manifesto, I would definitely agree with that.”
Martin said he learned from his character because, in the play, only Dr. Rank takes main character Nora Helmer seriously.
“I think it shows the value of somebody who will treat another person with seriousness, even if no one else is,” Martin said.
Reagan said the part for Rank needed someone who was approachable and trustworthy, but could also believably hide his feelings for a married woman.
“Jonathan was the right person for that,” Reagan said. “Jonathan is a senior and I needed somebody who could give me more age on the stage for that part because Dr. Rank is supposed to be the older character.”
Freshman Kiana Foreman, who performed as Kristine Linde, said she saw the importance of individuality in the play.
“I would say the lesson in the play is to be yourself and know who you are and not to be molded to what other people think you should be,” Foreman said.
Foreman said that she did not relate to her character, but enjoyed the role.
“My character is very calm and level-headed; that’s not me,” Foreman said. “I love being able to be the voice of reason and to have wisdom. It’s taught me to be more calm and assess the situation before speaking out; thinking before doing.”
Reagan, however, said that Foreman matched her role because of her empathetic qualities.
“I was looking for someone with a certain sensibility and ability to empathize and she has to be that because in the play she is Nora’s confidant,” Reagan said. “I felt like Kiana had an understanding of the role from the first time she tried out.”
Reagan said that the students worked well to produce the performance in only four and a half weeks.
“Luke and Sloan, who had the majority of the work as the lead actors of the married couple, have been extremely hard-working and they’re both very talented,” Reagan says.