In yet another example of how Savannah State University is revitalizing its theater department, David I. L. Poole and his students bring Ingmar Bergman’s Nora to Kennedy Fine Arts Theatre.
The Victorian piece, along with last month’s Lysistrata, shows how the department is making efforts to add variety to SSU’s traditional season.
“SSU is known for historically black plays,” says Teresa-Michelle Walker, “and while we respect that, we want to offer a varied program to our students and audiences.”
Nora is Bergman’s condensed version of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll's House. Bergman cuts out all extraneous conversation and characters, whittling three acts down to one. In the single act we follow Nora as she evolves from a pampered, naÏve housewife to a china doll who finally realizes she’s been living in a cabinet.
Unrequited love, deceit, blackmail and feminist undertones bridge the gap between the time Nora is set in and the time we live in today. “These are moments that occur in real life,” says Michael Knowles, who plays Dr. Rank. ”Love, hatred, betrayal; that’s reality.”
And in keeping, Poole stayed true to the reality of the play in his designs for the show.
“We’re using bustles, corsets, antique furniture, and we’re even making the ornaments and wrapping for the gifts,” explains Poole. “The visual aspects are truly stunning.”
And that’s not ego talking. Nora is outfitted in a breathtaking, hand-painted peacock inspired gown with a fur-trimmed cape and muff. Even more awe-inspiring is that these are not rented pieces, but costumes created right in SSU’s theatre design studio.
Another surprise is that Nora is played by guest artist Parris Sarter, a SCAD graduate student.
“We wanted to up the ante and show our students what other institutions are teaching,” notes Poole.
Sarter, who is a fan of A Doll's House, is thrilled to be working with the SSU students and hopes to convey the universality of the play’s meaning.
“I want people to see that this could be any relationship,” stresses Sarter. “It’s simply about someone who took all they could and has finally had enough.”
Whether you’re one for feminist or civil rights themes, Nora can satisfy all with its relatable storyline and a heroine who finally learns to stand on her own two feet. Nora bursts out of her dollhouse starting November 20. cs
NoraWhen: Nov. 20-22 at 8 p.m. & Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. Where: Kennedy Fine Arts Theatre at SSU. Cost: $5 students and faculty, $10 general admission.