Discovering individuality | Daily News


Discovering individuality

Stafford International School takes on Ibsen's classic

We are told when ‘A Doll’s House’ came out it caused intense public interest and excitement. It is a three-act play written by Norway's Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 21, 1879. The play is set in a Norwegian town circa 1879. It is a play that deals with stereotypes, the traditional roles of men and women and social values especially where the main character Nora Helmer is concerned.

Stafford International School will bring this fascinating play to life at the Stables of Park Street Mews in February. It promises to be an extremely entertaining play that involves strong characters and will allow us to reflect on what we consider to be the norm.

Daily News visited Stafford International School to meet up with the cast who shared their candid views on the play.

Stafford Head of Performing Arts, Michelle Herft, pointed out that the play revolves around the life of main characters Nora and Torvald. Nora is a very submissive loyal and dutiful wife. Torvald is very overbearing and controlling and he tries to control his wife Nora. Little does he know that Nora has a personality of her own. The play is a popular classic. Towards the end Nora empowers herself.

“During that time the play must have been very revolutionary. But I feel it is a classic that can be brought to stage in this modern age. Nora is in actuality a very strong female character. The two actresses that I have chosen to play the role are equally strong. This experience will really benefit the children and it is an opportunity for them to display their talents. The play explores relationships and marriage. It also highlights the fact that one should not sacrifice one’s individuality for another person. That is the most salient message that is being put out. This play really made an impression on me when I was a child. Stafford is celebrating 60 years of existence. This is the perfect time to have this play. I thought why not do a classic? The kids are making many sacrifices for this,” said Herft.

Herft pointed out that there is much excitement and the students are very enthusiastic. Great things are in store for Stafford in the future when it comes to drama. Herft pointed out that the play is definitely challenging and it is very wordy. You need to really listen to the play.

Agbo Pethiyagoda and Siyath Anandasiri both play the role of Nils Krogstad. Anandasiri pointed out that the character is very aggressive and that in this particular play the characters’ emotions are really exaggerated. In his opinion the character becomes less harsh as the play progresses and we are allowed to see Krogstad’s romantic side. Agbo Pethiyagoda has a flair for portraying the romantic side of the character. Pethiyagoda pointed out that Krogstad is at first not a very nice guy which made playing the character fascinating. It was a challenge playing the character. There are a lot of mood swings and there is also a romantic side to Krogstad.

“I love playing this character because it is something I am not! Studying the lines was a challenge definitely. Getting into the shoes of the character was something I enjoyed. I think even a villain can have a soft part to him. At the end of the day he is a nice human being,” said Pethiyagoda.

“One message in the play is that men should treat women equally. And women and men are equal in society. I feel Nora empowers herself in the end. The women in the play are pretty powerful women. The play is one of the best experiences that we have ever had,” said Anandasiri.

Diren Gunasekera and Randil De Zoysa play the role of Doctor Rank. Gunasekera stated that his character is indeed a jovial character. His life expectancy is rather short as he has a disease. He lives life to the fullest. Gunasekera that he does have traits similar to the character he is playing which is convenient. “Playing the character is a very eye- opening experience. The role is not as challenging as I expected it to be. Stepping into the shoes of the character was challenging and at the end of the day it gives more variety to your life,” said Randil De Zoysa.

Meth Abeysinghe and Rayanka Jayawardane play the role of Nora Helmer. Jayawardane says that there are drastic emotional changes that you have to go through in a matter of seconds. Jayawardane felt that the message that goes to society is that women can be independent. Abeysinghe of course felt that the character is very smart and even cunning! She puts on an outward appearance that she is naïve or childlike. She of course may not realize she is a very independent person. Both girls felt that the character is extremely challenging.

Mukaram Jameel and Bhupesh Selvanayagam play the role of Ivar. Jameel felt that the play portrays the daily lives in many houses in the modern age. Selvanayagam too feels that the play really portrays the daily lives of some families and what families go through. He says the play is in some ways very reminiscent of his childhood.

Osheen Martus who plays the character of Emmy Helmer felt that her character is extremely playful and the play revolves around the family and financial struggles. She initially had stage fright and found it hard to get into the shoes of the character but got rid of it all due to the camaraderie. According to her it is an example of day to day life.

Aqeel Fouzi and Ashvin Arsakularatne play the character of Torvald Helmer. Fouzi called the character very controlling and rather autocratic. According to Fouzi there are two sides to the character and delving into the character is very interesting. He confesses that the play is much more serious and mature than any play he has done in the past. Arsakularatne felt playing the character required some getting used to, since in actual life he is a very easygoing person.

“It requires a different approach and the play is different from other productions I have done. The play addresses the role of family. But I must say that it is not the easiest job in the world stepping into Torvald’s shoes since as individuals we are different,” said Fouzi

“Through these plays you get to encounter characters that you would see in real life society. It has been a pretty fun learning experience. The play is relevant to modern day society because in Sri Lanka there is a lot of discussion concerning gender roles,” said Arsakularatne.

Hiruni Rubasinghe who plays the character of the nurse, felt the play brings out a lot of feminism and the character she plays is caring and compassionate. She felt the play correctly portrays certain modern day marriages.

The role of the Butler is played by Chithru Gunawardena. Gunawardena calls his character a monotonous character and takes his orders right through the play. He says that the whole play is really intense and perhaps a little complicated and that the women show their strength in the end. Gayendra Kuruppu plays the role of the porter. Of course, in addition to this minor role he is also the production manager doing the music. According to the young man the play is a rather complex play dealing with gender equality.

Sinthuriy Bahlendran plays the character of Mrs. Linde, stated that the themes the thespians have to tackle is certainly challenging. Bahlendran feels her character is entertaining. It definitely requires talent because the actors and actresses have to act as people who are much older than they are.

“The message is that a woman does not need a man to be happy in life because she can be independent. I am definitely getting used to my character and I am really enjoying the experience. The previous play I did was Alice in Wonderland which was rather childish. This play is really serious,” said Bahlendran.

Thisagi Jayasekara also plays the role of Mrs. Linde says that in terms of plot development her character is very functional. “It does to a degree deal with gender stereotypes because we see that Torvald is the typical possessive and controlling husband. I definitely feel that one message is that you should not underestimate women,” said Jayasekara. Kaishoriy Bahlendran is another actress who plays the role of Mrs. Linde who felt that her experience in drama has taught her how to step into the shoes of a challenging character.


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