Adaptation Note: Joanna Murray-Smith, A DOLL’S HOUSE

3 Jun 2022

I was thrilled with the invitation from Mark Kilmurry to adapt Ibsen’s 1879 classic A Dolls House. I had one of the best experiences of my life adapting his play Hedda Gabler and also Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage, which featured many of the themes of the two other classics from nearly a century earlier. What I knew from those adaptations is that despite the technological, sexual and social revolutions of the twentieth century, the fundamentals of intimate human relationships remain the same. Women still long for love and for freedom within the milieu of domestic life, men and women still struggle with the compromises of submitting to the will of another human being, we all still wrestle with our expectations of life and then with the resignation of what we have actually achieved. Love, loss, longing are present in Ibsen in ways that are thoroughly modern — in fact, timeless.

A Doll’s House is a play that but for the absence of a mobile phone or three, might have been written yesterday. The joy of staging these classics in new adaptations is not to “update” historical plays, but to reflect how little changes in the human experience from culture to culture and era to era. There is something deeply comforting as well as unsettling knowing that despite the world feeling as if it is constantly changing, certain fundamentals stay the same. And across centuries and hemispheres, more unites us than separates us.

I’m hugely grateful to have had the chance to get inside Ibsen’s head, and also to be be back at this wonderful Sydney theatre.

– Joanna Murray-Smith

On stage 10 Jun – 16 Jul, don’t miss this brand new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s renowned classic.