A lot has changed for women in 134 years, but a play written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen, still resonates today.
Things Unseen Theatre will present the classic play "A Doll's House" Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14 at The Church in the Middle of the Block, Altoona.
It is a "very strong play even for today" and is about a woman named Nora "who's fighting for her equality in her marriage, even though society and the law and customs and everything else seems to be against her," the production's director, Tom Liszka, said.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
In “A Doll’s House,” Nora Helmer (Allyssa Baker) dances in front of dying family friend Dr. Rank (Rick Herbster), who is secretly in love with her.
"This is such a classic play that has relevance today even though it was written over 100 years ago," Things Unseen Theatre co-founder Valerie Stratton said in an email. "It has great characters and timeless issues related to human relations and independence."
Liszka dreamed of putting on this play, Stratton said.
The retired Penn State Altoona English faculty member taught the play a number of times, but never got to see an Ibsen play performed, he said.
If you go
What: "A Doll's House," presented by Things Unseen Theatre
Where: The Church in the Middle of the Block, 217 Fifth Ave., Altoona
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 6, 7, 13 and 14; and 2 p.m. Dec. 14
Tickets: $12, general admission; $10, students and seniors. Tickets will be available at Thompson pharmacies and at the door.
He is excited about bringing the production to the stage.
"In 2006, it had the distinction of being the most-performed play in the world, and the part of Nora is one of the most coveted roles by actresses," Stratton said.
Allyssa Baker of Hollidaysburg plays the female lead.
A woman's role in society when the play was written was much different than it is today, Baker said in an email. Women were expected to depend completely on a man financially and for the opinions she formed. Women were not allowed to take out loans.
"Though the laws have changed since the time of the play, there is still a universal question that Nora ponders in the play that is forever applicable to society and that is, "How do we know what's right? Where do we learn this or who do we learn this from? Who decided that this is the way things should be?" Baker said.
"One of my favorite lines is, and I'm paraphrasing here, '[If these are laws] then they must be very bad laws.' I've thought the same thing myself in regard to laws currently in place, and I think everyone can relate to that."
Rob Smelley of Juniata plays Nora's husband, Torvald Helmer.
"It's her standing up for herself," he said in regard to the relevance today of what he says was one of the first womens' rights plays.
Rick Herbster of Altoona plays Dr. Rank, Torvald's best friend.
The retired music teacher said "music and, I believe, theater can move people in different ways" and people can leave a performance with different opinions.
"Some people may have enjoyed a certain performance. Other people may not have been moved by it, but I hope that in some way, shape or form, everyone is moved, whether in agreement or disagreement, with 'A Doll's House,'" he said.
"I want them to see the strength of this woman. I want them to see the idea that there should be equality in marriage. I would like them to appreciate the sense of drama that a very successful 19th century dramatist can still bring forth," Liszka said of what he hopes the audience gets from the show.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.