Photo: RNE Singapore.Photo: RNE Singapore

Ibsen's legacy lives on in Singapore

Last updated: 23.03.2012 // Over four consecutive days, local students provided Singaporean audiences with one of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s most famous plays, A Doll’s House. By using three different directors, spectators were taken through a journey of cultural differences that prevails in the Singaporean society today.

Act one was directed by a Chinese Singaporean, act two was directed by an Indian Singaporean and the final act was directed by a Malay Singaporean. These ethnic groups make up a substantial part of the Singaporean population and illustrate the multicultural society Singapore has become today. As each of these directors put their own personal fingerprint on their respective acts, audiences could see how the issues from A Doll’s House apply to various ethnic groups in the Singaporean society.  This was both interesting and enlightening for the audience.


Fourteen visiting Norwegian members of Parliament from the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs were among the audience of this captivating performance. In the post-show dialogue, the Committee’s Second Vice Chair, Jan Tore Sanner, talked about gender equality in Norway and Ibsen’s relevance in the Norwegian society today. This session also allowed the audience to pose questions to both directors and actors. Many of the questions were related to the challenges of portraying Ibsen in a contemporary Singaporean setting, but also in this process the somewhat surprising discovery of how relevant this play, written hundred and thirty three years ago, still is today.


– It’s always difficult to put old material into a more contemporary context. At first, I thought it was a feminist play, but later I realized it was more a play about the relationship between a man and a woman, said Riccardo Andrea Cartelli who portrayed one of the main characters, Trevor Helmer.


Regardless, the audience, including the Committee members, were all deeply impressed with both directors and actors who did an excellent job adapting A Doll's House into a modern setting.

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