Audra Kooi — Staff Writer
The Dordt University Theatre Arts Department has begun work on the spring mainstage production of “A Doll’s House,” and is gearing up for a show that will not disappoint.
Dr. Teresa Ter Haar and Professor Laurel Korener began the process of choosing the production last spring.
“I’ve had it on my list to direct for quite some time,” director Teresa Ter Haar said. “It’s just a fabulous play with so much to offer a contemporary audience.”
In discussions last spring, Koerner mentioned having wanted to play the role of Nora, the leading female role, and the seed was planted. Koerner and Ter Haar decided to proceed with “A Doll’s House” as a learning experience for the rest of the theatre department.
The drama, written in 1879 by Henrik Ibsen, follows the story of Torvald and Nora Helmer. Nora has borrowed money to care for her ill husband and is still paying back her debt when the story begins. Her husband, Torvald, is unaware of her actions.
“I’m excited to experiment with how the characters relate to one another,” senior Lindsay Kuiper said. “Typically, you see the ‘good guys’ versus ‘the bad guys,’ but these characters are nuanced and morally gray.”
To accompany Koerner’s role as Nora, the theatre department is welcoming professional actor Jason Vande Brake to fill the role of Torvald. Vande Brake graduated from Dordt with a BA in Acting before attending the University of California, Irvine where he received an MFA in Acting.
“The students who get to work with Jason and Professor Koerner will be able to watch two experienced actors in all areas of preparing for a role” Ter Haar said. “I’m hoping the student actors will watch their preparation process and grab on to some of the things they do in order to inhabit these characters.”
Even with this opportunity, challenges are to be expected. The cast has begun rehearsals, but Vande Brake will not be joining them until February because he is based in California. By the time he joins rehearsals, much of the blocking will be done. This means that both Vande Brake and the rest of the cast will have to work to incorporate him into the existing environment when he arrives.
Koerner and Vande Brake will be posed with another challenge. By the time the story takes place, Nora and Torvald have been married for nine years; they have kids together and are dealing with complicated struggles. It is this kind of complicated relationship that Koerner and Vande Brake will need to flesh out with the direction of Dr. Ter Haar.
Despite any complications that may arise, the theatre arts department is excited to bring a new opportunity to students looking to join the world of professional theatre—many of whom have never experienced acting alongside professionals. They hope to perform compelling show that will spark meaningful conversation among the Dordt community.