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High school students inhabit ‘A Doll’s House’

November 22, 2013

A Doll's House CrewA group of about 260 high school students from the Kansas City area got the chance to glimpse a snapshot of married life – 19th century style – when they took in a matinee performance of Avila University Theatre Department’s production of “A Doll’s House” the morning of Nov. 20 inside Goppert Theatre.

The Henrik Ibsen-penned play revolved around the marriage and interaction of Nora and Torvald Helmer, circa 1870s Norway, and Nora’s gradual rebellion from the spousal restraints and binds of those times. The play ends with Nora walking out on Torvald, and the disconsolate, broken husband collapsing onto a step in his now-empty home. It all seemed to resonate with the audience of school children, who applauded loudly as the actors took their bows.

After the production, the actors, directors, stage managers and the like took questions from those in the audience. Some of the highlights included:

  • Annie Breitenstein, who played Nora, said it took about five weeks to learn her lines, impressive as the lead in such a dialogue-intensive production.

  • Mia Hedgpeth-Guerra, scenic designer, said she chose blue and purple backdrops because she wanted the scene to appear “watercolor-like. I wanted it to be beautiful, but also represent decay. Blue is very calming. Purple is for royalty and Nora being a regal character.” She said the set also was designed to appear like a birdcage, signifying Nora’s trapped environment.

  • Alden Stockam, who played Torvald, said one of the biggest challenges for him playing the role was that, “I really hated this guy.” But, he also thought of Torvald as a very ethical man and a victim of the times.

  • Emily Dwyer, who played Helen, the Helmers’ maid, was the only freshman in the cast, and that brought Adriansome pressure, she said. “I thought, if I messed up, they’d just blame it on the freshman,” she said. “But, they were all very welcoming.”

  • Adrian Foster had just a line or two as the Porter, yet had to memorize every line of every male part in the play. Such is the life of a male understudy. “It was a bit of a challenge, but a fun challenge and helped me grow,” he said. Playing a porter was somewhat easier. “For me, it was easy playing poor, because I’m in college,” he said, drawing the biggest laugh of the day.


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.