A Doll's House
A Doll's House

When one picks an iconic text that has had many a retelling, the reinvention of it always remains the primary challenge. Pushan Kripalani, who has directed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, for Ila Arun's annual Ibsen Festival, first read the play when he was in school. When he returned to the text, for the purpose of this play, he did not want to do it the traditional way. After a table reading over two weeks, with his actors – Ira Dubey and Joy Sengupta – the trio developed a stripped down version of the play; stripped of extra characters, props, manners and sets. "The set is a roll of paper tape and four chairs," Kripalani tells us, about his experimantal take.

Written in 1879, Ibsen's play revolves around Nora Helmer, who appears to have the perfect life on the outside. She's wife to a bank manager and a mother of three. Together they share, what seems to be a perfect home, until one discovers that there's more than what meets the eye. The play was seen as one of the most bold social statements of its time, where a lady stands up against patriarchy. While the story couldn't be more relevant to present times, Kripalani did not want to make it all about battling social constructs. "What is the psychology behind her battle, that part is more interesting to me."

While Dubey plays Nora, her husband's role is helmed by Sengupta, who also essays three other characters. "As an actor, for me it was interesting and challenging to play off all the four characters, played by the same actor," Dubey says. Kripalani adds, "Sometimes, when Joy plays a woman, he just steps out, puts on skirt and comes back. The audience sniggers for ten seconds, and then they buy it. That's also because of how Joy breathes originality and life into all his characters."

For Dubey, the primary lure, was the character Nora, besides a chance of working with Kripalani again, and Sengupta as well, who she has known for many years. "I don't consider myself a feminist, I think it's a massively misused word. I see myself as someone who is interested in the feminine point of view rather, and more so, as an artist," she says. According to Sengupta, the play doesn't provide the actors with any crutches that a realistic play normally has. "And, this play was written as one, a chamber drama at a time when theatre moved to the middle-class from the epics. "Our play uses the device of the alienation technique. I switch off from one character and become someone else, right in front of the audience. And for them, the experience is therefore both academic and theatrical."

Where: G5A, Laxmi Mills, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalaxmi
When: September 17, 4 pm and 7 pm
Entry: Rs 590
Call: 24909393