“Nora and Julie” hits home for students

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by AbStrong

The Simpson Theatre Company introduces audiences to two lovely ladies this month: Nora and Julie, women dealing with complex romantic relationships.

Ingmar Bergman’s play “Nora and Julie” is based on August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” and Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” works that illustrate feminist views of social expectations of the late-1800s’.

Director Tom Woldt chose the productions because he felt the company and its audiences would gain something from it.

“This seemed like a good fit for the student company and the stories link up with the department courses,” Woldt said.

The production poses heated questions about the politics of intimate relationships, including the division of finances, extramarital affairs, class barriers, power struggles and the domestic roles of men and women.

Each story takes place on a holiday: Julie’s on Midsummer’s Eve and Nora’s on Christmas. The celebrations emphasize life and relationships, but they’re unsatisfactory for Julie and Nora, causing them to question their positions in the world.

Junior Lindsey Johnson said playing Christine in “Miss Julie” has enhanced her understanding of her Women’s Literature and Women’s Lives class.

“It hit home for me,” Johnson said.

According to Woldt, the issues addressed in the play are long-standing.

“Despite 150 years, people keep coming back [to see these plays] because we haven’t solved these problems yet,” Woldt said.

Several new faces make an appearance in the play including freshmen Sara Stoddard as Mrs. Linde and Christopher Ellis as Torvald Helmer.

“Playing Mrs. Linde really showed me how much of [a] part she served as a sort of older sister for Nora,” Stoddard said.

The company, which is composed of 50 students, has been working on the play since the beginning of the semester. Auditions took place the first day of classes and rehearsals began the following week

The play originally included a third act about a contemporary marriage which couldn’t be included due to time constraints.

Each act runs approximately one hour and 15 minutes, and with intermission, the play runs about three hours.

The production may appeal to students going on upcoming May Term trips to Scandinavia. Audiences get a brief taste of Scandinavia through the traditional folk and Christmas music included in the play.

Woldt said the show also boasts bold visual effects, even though it started modestly.

“It all started with a cardboard model,” Woldt said.

Woldt is expecting a fair number of patrons from Indianola, Des Moines and surrounding communities as well as faculty and students in the crowd.

Woldt hopes audiences will see themes in “Nora and Julie” that are typical of modern-day relationships.

“They apply to life,” Woldt said. “To quote Bergman, ‘Sometimes great things and sometimes disastrous things take place between the relations of men and women.'”

“Nora and Julie” will be performed October 20-23 at the Barnum Studio Theatre.