A Doll's House

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A Doll's House (Et dukkehjem in the original Norwegian), is a play in three acts by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)[1].

The English title also found as A Doll House, The Doll House or The Doll's House.

In many regions also known by other titles, see below under "Translations and adaptations".

The original text

Originally entitled Et dukkehjem in Norwegian, this three-act play in prose became one of the classic realist plays from the 19th century, it premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month.

The play was controversial when first published, as it is sharply critical of 19th century marriage norms. Indeed an adapted version (without the controversial ending) was prepared by Ibsen for the German production, and this was for a long time used in a number of countries, including South Africa.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as A Doll's House by William Archer in 1879, but the first British production was in an adaptation (probably of Archer's version) by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman called Breaking a Butterfly, produced at the Princess Theatre, 3 March 1884.

The first British production of the Archer translation in its regular form opened on 7 June 1889 at the Novelty Theatre, London.

Another translation, by Henrietta Frances Lord, was published as Nora, or A Doll's House and published in Chicago by Lily Publishing House, 1890.

Translated into Dutch as Een Poppenhuis or as Nora.

Originally translated into Afrikaans by Mrs Carinus-Holzhausen as Geleende Geld ("Borrowed Money") (1929)

Translated from the Norwegian into Afrikaans by Nerina Ferreira as Die Pophuis ("The Doll's House", 1985)

Norwegian and European production

South African productions

1925: Was probably first produced in English in South Africa in 1925, directed by C.G.S. (“Con”) de Villiers with the Unie-debatsvereniging, Stellenbosch University, with Hélène Botha as Nora.

1929: Performed in Afrikaans as Geleende Geld ("Borrowed Money") by Paul de Groot, with De Groot as Nils Krogstad, Hélèna Botha as Nora, André Huguenet as Torvald Helmer and Henry van Wyk as Dr Rank. Utilising the notorious version with the "happy ending" it opened in Caledon in February 1929, receiving varied criticism on tour – with moral indignation at Nora’s desertion of her husband on the one hand, and criticism of the happy ending from informed critics on the other. Ultimately however it still played for 200 performances.

1951: Presented in English by the Dramatic Section of the Johannesburg Jewish Guild in December 1951 produced by Anna Romain Hoffman, starring Rita Roseman (Nora), Denis Scully (Torvald Helmer), Ian Bell (Nils Krogstad), Nora Gregor (Mrs Linde), Isadore Shulman (Dr Rank).

1975: CAPAB's English production of A Doll's House opened in September at the Hofmeyr Theatre and was directed by Rosalie van der Gucht, starring Helen Bourne (Nora Helmer), Michael Swinton (Torvald Helmer), Arthur Hall (Dr Rank), Valerie Fletcher (Kristine Linde), Henry Goodman (Nils Krogstad}, Kathleen Lee (Anne Marie), Anne Craye (Helen), Lyle Wright (a porter), Mark Wilson and Robert Wright (the Helmer children). Lorraine Bellamy was the stage manager. Set designed by Craig Curtis, lighting designed by John T. Baker. Music arranged by Brian Burke, dance choreographed by Mary Suckling.

1985: Performed in Afrikaans as Die Pophuis by PACT and staged in the State Theatre in Pretoria in September and the Alexander Theatre in Johannesburg in October. Directed by Tjaart Potgieter, with Elize Cawood, Louis van Niekerk, Ernst Eloff, Ben Kruger, Anna Cloete, Charlotte Butler, Helena Hettema and Wynand le Roux. Designs by Chris van den Berg, lighting by Michael K. Lehr.

1990: Directed by Clare Stopford Upstairs at the Market in May 1990 starring Grethe Fox, Ron Smerczak, Andrew Buckland, Kate Edwards, Patricia Wark and Pierre Knoessen.

1995: A Baxter Theatre Production of Christopher Hampton's English version opened on 3 June. Directed by Liz Mills with Terry Norton (Nora), Bianca Amato (Kristine Linde), Chris van Niekerk (Torvald Helmer), Blaise Koch (Nils Krogstad), David Alcock (Dr Rank) and Christina Beatty (Anne Marie). . Decor and costumes by Geoffrey Hyland, lighting design by Brian Collins.

2015: Presented in English at the Grahamstown Festival as a co-production with the Woordfees in Stellenbosch. Directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with Jennifer Steyn, Martin le Maitre, Anthea Thompson and Rob van Vuuren.

2016: Presented in English at the Woordfees, Stellenbosch, as a co-production with the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Directed by Christiaan Olwagen, with Jennifer Steyn, Martin le Maitre, Anthea Thompson and Rob van Vuuren.



Facsimile version of the 1898 version by William Archer[2]

Ludwig Wilhelm Berthold Binge. 1969. Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1832-1950). Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik.

Temple Hauptfleisch and Hilda van Lill 2011. Ibsen on the Platteland: The First Professional Production of A Doll’s House (1929) in Afrikaans, in Fischer-Lichte, Gronau & Weiler (eds.). Global Ibsen: Performing Multiple Modernities. New York & London: Routledge, 19-38.

André Huguenet 1950a. Applous! Die Kronieke van 'n Toneelspeler. Kaapstad: HAUM. Temple Hauptfleisch, 2011

Trek, 15(12):21. December 1951.

A Doll's House theatre programmes, 1975 (Hofmeyr Theatre) and 1995.

PACT theatre programme, 1985.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Petru and Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press: p.486.


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