A ‘Nora’ for our era comes to Seoul

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A ‘Nora’ for our era comes to Seoul

A modern and more sensational “Nora” is coming to Korea next week.
One of the newest versions of “A Doll’s House,” the renowned play by Henrik Ibsen, is being staged from Wednesday to Friday at the LG Arts Center by the Berlin Schaubuhne.
While the original play created a sensation in the 19th century as an early “feminist” drama, this version by Thomas Ostermeier, a well-knwon stage director from Germany, seems to have added more stimulating and shocking elements to appeal to modern audiences. There is not only a glimmering stage setting and visual effects, but also a shocking ending.
The work, set in the present day, relates the tale of an upper middle class family living in a brand new apartment.
Nora, garbed in expensive clothes and jewelry, is a shopping addict, enjoying the wealth her husband brings home. But she acts in a nervous manner, as if something is wrong. Her past secret is ultimately revealed, and creates havoc in the family’s peaceful life.
The luxurious, contemporary set revolves during the play, symbolizing that the marriage is not as stable as it looks. Rock music with a strong beat and soft, romantic pop are used to create tension. Colorful lighting also adds to the appeal for the audience.
Through the play, the director poses the question of what has changed in the 120 years since the original Nora left her house. “Have women and men really become equal?” “What would have Nora done if she were living in modern times?” are issues that Mr. Ostermeier raises in the play.
“The current situation of men and women is not so different from the late 19th century, when wives belonged to their husbands,” Mr. Ostermeier said recently in a press interview. “A lot of people think that women and men have become equal but that is just an illusion.
“I tried to shock and stimulate the audience by having Nora shoot her husband. Nora became an aggressor and a victim at the same time. But the future is not going to be different,” he said.
The director points out that individual rights and marriages are affected by the economy. Only when financial security is guaranteed can marriages survive, and thus women are forced to sacrifice for the success of their husbands.
“Society is going backward,” he said. “A bad economy, rising unemployment rate and the image of women portrayed by the media have revived the old male-centered ideology.”
After the play was staged in Germany in 2003, stirring audiences and critics, it has been invited to be performed at many art festivals, including the Avignon Festival in France, and the Next Wave Festival in New York.

by Choi Sun-young

Ticket prices range from 30,000 won ($30) to 70,000 won. Performances begin at 8 p.m. each day. For more information, call LG Arts Center at 02-2005-0114.
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