Most college students may pay to watch plays, but senior English major and Theatre minor Hope Morris directs them. Morris directed A Doll’s House for her senior departmental honors project.
Presented through Olivet’s Green Room Theatre Club, performances were on December 1 and 2 in Kresge Auditorium.
Morris knew she wanted to direct a play senior year. Her English professor, Dr. Belcher-Rankin, asked her if she wanted to complete a departmental honors project, so it was the perfect opportunity.
Morris chose A Doll’s House after she began getting ideas for how to block it once she had read through it a few times.
Directing a play can be intimidating, so Morris was thankful for the faculty support she was given. Dr. Belcher-Rankin helped her select the play, and offered her guidance throughout the departmental project. Professor Sarver gave Morris advice on how to run the play’s rehearsals.
Morris had numerous responsibilities as director of A Doll’s House.
“The main responsibilities were casting, running rehearsals, blocking, lighting design, costuming, basically anything you can think of,” Morris said. There were eight cast members and four production crew members. “On top of that, I have been writing a paper and studying the play,”
Morris conducted a survey at the end of each performance, asking if the play was relevant to today. She used the results of the survey and her own opinion to write her departmental honor’s project paper on whether or not A Doll’s House can be modernized. Morris has enjoyed learning something new about the play and the cast every day and seeing her creation come to life.
The cast received their scripts last Spring, so the play has been almost a year in the making.
A Doll’s House was written in 1879, but Morris decided to set the play in modern times because many of the issues seen remain the same today.
“When people disregard each other’s humanity, doors open for destruction. Yet when we embrace our own humanity and recognize others as human too, we open a door to ‘a glorious thing,’ to progress and unity,” Morris said.
The characters of A Doll’s House are complex. Freshman Sam Durnil played the role of Nils Krogstad. He is a troubled man who has experienced many difficulties in life, and when he is taken advantage of, he takes action and does what he believes is necessary.
“Krogstad, while he may seem like a villain at first, doesn’t want to bother anyone. However, he knows if he does nothing, he won’t survive. Krogstad is a survivor,” Durnil said.
Junior Shane Trail played the role of Torvald Helmer, a character representative of patriarchal society. Torvald has been one of Trail’s favorite characters to portray.
“As easy as it would be to view Torvald as a misogynist and a bad husband, he is a complex, multifaceted character who may actually be more relatable than audiences might initially think,” Trail said.
Trail has enjoyed working with Morris. She gave the cast a lot of freedom with blocking the movements around the stage and physically portraying the characters.
“She’s [Morris] made the whole process a lot of fun while also challenging our initial perceptions of the text and the characters,” Trail said.
For more from the ONU Theater Department, keep an eye out for the spring musical Into the Woods near the end of February.