“NORA’S SONS” by Rolf Alme, Århus Theatre, Denmark 2010
A contemporary comment to “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen
In the spring 2009 Århus Theatre in Denmark commissioned me to write a play that should be a contemporary comment to Ibsen’s masterpiece. I directed the play at Århus Theatre in January 2010 and I was invited to direct it in a Polish translation at the Polish Theatre in Wroclaw in June the same year.
Most texts that have been written in Scandinavia inspired by “A Doll’s House” have focused on Nora and her leaving or re-entering the marriage. They have expressed classical feministic views on the position of the woman in the bourgeois marriage. This text however focuses on the sons of those liberated women who left their husbands in order to accomplish their own independent lives. How are those young men, who are raised by emancipated women without fathers outside the classical family structures? Have they adopted the values of their mothers? As men, are they different from other men? And what aspirations do they have for their own lives regarding their relations with women or with other men? What kind of family structures, if any, do they want to build?
The play tells us that the ideas of these young men could be very radical. The young men conclude the revolution Nora started 130 years ago. They conduct the final step after more than 100 years of feminist struggle. Nora of today is not a woman but a young man.
In the play we meet contemporary people with reference to Ibsen’s play. The text is written in the same retrospective technique as Ibsen used; the characters revile their past as a precondition for the plot while talking to each other.
Thorvald Helmer; a bank director
Nora; a doctor and Helmer’s first wife
Nora Maria; an architect and Helmer’s second wife
Anders; a political scientist and son of Nora and Helmer
Jacob; a lawyer and son of Nora Maria and Helmer
Thoralf Helmer has invited his two ex wives and their sons for a Christmas dinner the 26th of December. He has had a light stroke some months earlier and he wants primarily to meet his two sons. Jacob he has not seen for many years and Andreas he has never seen as Nora left him while she was pregnant. He also wants his two sons to meet each other.
In the first image we see the two ex wives arriving at Helmer’s house. They have to wait for the boys as they are stuck in a snowstorm at Copenhagen airport, so Nora and Nora Maria start to drink Helmer’s good red wine and talk with each other. Helmer never gets a chance to say anything, as his two ex wives are very talkative. He merely runs back and forth between the dining table and the kitchen supplying red wine and turning the duck in the oven on and off all depending on the text messages with new arrival times that the ex wives receive from the boys in the snow trapped plain. After hours of waiting and 7 bottles of red wine down the two women fall asleep at the table.
In the second image Helmer has a monologue towards the audience where he explains his point of view. He never understood these women. He did all he could to satisfy them but it was never enough. He has given up women all together. The only thing he wants now is to see his sons and he had to invite his ex-wives in order to get them to his home. He loves his sons even though he does not know them. And then he also falls asleep.
In the third image the two sons finally arrive at Helmer’s house. They meet at the entrance door and are delighted to finally see each other. When entering the dining room they see that their parents are fast asleep. So they find the burned duck from the kitchen and start eating and speaking about their parents and their own lives. We see the two young men as products of their emancipated mothers. In their discussions they give us new provocative perspectives on the concept of family, sexuality and human relations.
(The play exists in Norwegian, Danish, French and German.)