Welcome to another year of Page to Stage!
Thank you for your interest in Page to Stage.
Page to Stage is a book club for scripts and plays!
How to participate:
Read the script, watch the play, and join our group discussion on Jan. 28th
following the performance at Prospect Theater Project. We’ll be meeting in the Artist Lab.
Location: 1218 K Street Modesto, CA
Time: After the 1-28-23 matinee
Questions? Email email@example.com
Read the Page to Stage Message below to learn more!
PAGE TO STAGE REMINDER
It’s almost time to get up and walk through that door–and enjoy the January 26 opening night of A Doll’s House, Part 2 at Prospect Theater Project! That means we’re about two weeks from our next Page to Stage, which will begin right after the Sunday, January 28 matinee (opening weekend). We should be getting underway about 4 p.m., and we’ll meet in the Artist Lab, just a couple doors away from PTP. We’ll leave the bar open a little longer in case you need an especially warming cocktail to fuel our discussion.
If you haven’t read it yet and are still looking for a copy of Lucas Hnath’s play, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (2017), please place your order as soon as possible! You can find a link to purchase the play online through the link above. We also have a few copies available through the Prospect Theater Project front office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can contact the publisher directly: Theater Communication Group: https://personify.tcg.org/store/productdetail/7580387
ABOUT THE PLAY
Lucas Hnath imagines what happens when Nora Helmer, of Ibsen’s Doll’s House, returns 15 years later to the family and home she so precipitously left in A Doll’s House, Part 2.
She is now a successful writer and seeks to finalize her divorce from Torvald. The play continues the study of society and gender, applying, perhaps, a more modern understanding of both while keeping the text situated in the late 1800s.
Now speaking of revisiting the past, we all think it’s pretty dang cool that our Prospect production of Hnath’s play features the return of Kathleen Ennis as Nora, a role she created on the Prospect stage in a magnificent performance of the Ibsen original. The confluence of life and art promises to be thrilling.
A Doll’s House, Part 2 premiered at South Coast Rep (dir Shelley Butler) in 2017 and on Broadway at John Golden Theater (dir Sam Gold) in 2017, featuring Laurie Metcalf and Chris Cooper. Here is the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Doll%27s_House,_Part_2 in case you want to do a deep dive.
The playwright, Hnath, is an Orlando native. He went to New York to study pre-med but ended up fleeing to the Tisch School at NYU to study drama (BFA, MFA), where he teaches now. He’s also Resident Playwright at New Dramatists.
THEMES OF THE PLAY
Regarding the themes of the play, as has become our habit we look forward to starting out our discussion with your impressions. We will use those as our jumping off point for our shared exploration of this rich text. If you’d like to do some extra exploring and thinking on your own first, here are a few things to consider:
Playwright and Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout wrote a review of the Hnath play that is worth reading: it’s a master class in a take down review, not just of Hnath, but of Ibsen, and neither, really, but of a theater industry that would give us such obvious lessons with such ostentation. Teachout, incidentally, iis the author of Satchmo at the Waldorf, which played in a one-man show at Prospect in 2019. It’s about the last concert of Louis Armstrong. The review is attached as a PDF for those of you who do not subscribe to the WSJ.
Interestingly, Teachout softened a bit on the play in a later production. You can read that review here: https://www.floridarep.org/a-dolls-house-part-2-review-small-screen-small-stage-big-impact/
An interesting comparison review is this one by Hilton Als, writing about the same play in The New Yorker. It has a much different flavor, because he’s writing a much different review, positioning the play within a different kind of intellectual tradition, orienting his readers (the kind of well-heeled, well-educated, well-off Manhattanites who show up in, say, Sex and The City) toward a particular kind of reading experience. That difference in perspective/audience shifts the response:
“Hnath’s invigorating ninety-minute, intermission-less work, is an irresponsible act-a kind of naughty imposition on a classic, which, in addition to investing Ibsen’s signature play with the humor that the nineteenth-century artist lacked, raises a number of questions, such as What constitutes an individual achievement in this age of the simulacrum, when everything owes something to something else?
Some questions to consider:
Ibsen claims he’s after a basic question: what limits a person (not just “a woman,” but any person) from being an individual? What variations does Hnath offer on this basic question?
Are roles for men and women in DH2 as well-defined as they seemed to be in 1879? Are they defined in different ways intersectionally? How are those roles constructed as opportunities and limitations within institutions (like marriage, like business, like politics, like education)?
What expectations did Hnath turn upside down regarding the characters and their future as you may have imagined it?
Why do you think Hnath used ellipses so frequently in the script? How did the PTP actors utilize this freedom to express the character’s state of mind wordlessly?
The enjambment of lines reminded Linda of poetry. In the “Script Grammar” Hnath wrote, “Enjambments are not meant to suggest a pause or break.” Why do you think he did this?
What did you make of Anne Marie’s sudden use of profanity on pg. 30 and again on pg. 65, and her saying “pissed” and “pissed off” on pg. 34 and 60? Anne Marie is prone to other contemporary colloquialisms such as “Hey” and “just get over it.”
Why do you think Hnath made this choice?
A Doll’s House 2 takes place in 1894! What do you make of Nora’s stubborn insistence? What might Hnath be suggesting in regards to our hopes, maybe expectations, that the future will be better as we define “better”?
Nora: “In the future/ twenty, thirty years from now,/ marriage will be a thing of the past,” pg. 24
“Because twenty, thirty years from now/ the world isn’t going to be the kind of place I say it’s going to be/ unless I’m the one to make it that way–” pg. 103
How does absurdity serve in this play? What is one of your favorite examples of Hnath’s use of absurdity? (Personally, I love the exchange on pg. 18. Anne Marie: “You’ve made money writing?” Nora: “A lot.”
We look forward to seeing you on January 28 for Page to Stage–if not before! Remember there will be a fabulous opening night party from 5 to 7 at the annex with a food truck, music, and more! Director James Kusy will be on hand at 5–we can’t wait to hear what he has to say about his take on A Doll’s House, Part 2!
Scott, Shannon and Linda