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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 3, 2005

University Theatres Mainstage Season Opens Oct. 13 With Ibsen's 'Dollhouse'

The University Theatres Mainstage season at the University of Iowa will open with "A Dollhouse," director John Cameron's adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic Oct. 13-23 in Theatre B of the UI Theatre Building.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 13-15 and 19-22, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 16 and 23.

"I love this play," says Cameron, head of the acting program in the UI Department of Theatre Arts. "I love Ibsen. His characters are an actor's dream. There is such depth and layering to each of them and he places them in the middle of the most exquisite conflicts.

"A century ago 'A Doll House' was considered scandalous and decadent -- a woman deserting her home and family to find herself -- and it caused a great deal of controversy. Ibsen was accused of portraying 'unwomanly women' and encouraging amoral behavior."

Today, Cameron says, the subject matter may not be so shocking, but it is just as timely: "The conflict between men and women still rages, and women still fight for personal dignity and identity. The play has a certain eternal voice. But beyond any political controversy that might have surrounded 'A Doll House' 100 years ago or even today, it is a beautiful story of human relationships, love and betrayal that will always touch our hearts.

"I have adapted the original script in an effort to greater expose these relationships -- to take a look at them under a more intense focus. I have chosen to use the title 'A Dollhouse' to emphasize this difference. In its adapted form the play takes on the structure of a dream play. What we see is Nora's memory of what happened. When the play begins it is already over."

Cameron is not exaggerating the controversial nature of the play in the late 19th century. Theatres refused to stage the play, protest meetings were held in every city where the work was performed, and one actress even refused to play the disturbing final scene and demanded a new ending -- one in which, in line with the morally unambiguous theater of the time, everything turned out "right."

Ibsen's skill at turning theatrical conventions on their head -- dealing with moral complexity, realistic detail and the unresolvable messiness of human and social relationships -- has led him to be dubbed the "Father of Modern Theater."

And "A Doll House" in 1879 was the play that first brought international fame to the playwright, who had before struggled with poverty and the rejection of most of his country's artistic establishment. The issue of women's emancipation was already being raised in parts of Europe -- and Ibsen had even proposed support for women's voting rights in the Scandinavian Club of Rome, where he had taken up residence -- but his play brought the topic into focus, and became a lightning rod for discussion and debate.

"A Doll House" began a production period of successful, controversial and influential plays including "Ghosts," "An Enemy of the People," "The Master Builder," "The Wild Duck" and "Hedda Gabler," many of which remain staples of the theatrical canon through the present day.

Other artistic contributors to the UI production include: set design, Craig Napoliello; costume design, William Moser; lighting design, Annie Croner: sound design, John Cameron: dance reconstruction, Rachelle Tsachor.

Tickets -- $17 (UI student, senior citizen & youth $8) -- are available in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building Box office.

Tickets are also available at a substantial discount as part of a Division of Performing Arts package.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: <http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu>.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancher-box-office@uiowa.edu>.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.