Plays

Watching A Doll’s House at GCC

Written by Finch Pierson (He/they)

I watched A Doll’s House on the second Friday in which it was produced at Grove City College. Overall, I enjoyed the play, and it was interesting to witness the impact it had on the others in attendance. Putting the play in arena style was an interesting choice and from what I heard from others who were able to see the play multiple times, the different places in the theater gave a different experience.

I thought the use of multiple different sources and types of light gave an interesting effect to the stage. The blue lights on the steps were beautiful and gave the edges of the stage a peculiar and icy look. The added use of lamps, a candle, and a chandelier as well as overhead lights, gave the room a strange warmth to combat the blue. The frozen appearance of the steps contrasted the warm lights that fell upon the stage and gave a feeling of separation. The relative darkness in the rest of the theater made the stage feel even more confined and constrained until it felt like it was choking the characters, mainly Nora.

I found the omission of the children to be interesting. The children that Nora left behind are often a source of debate among viewers are they are seen by some as something that should have kept Nora from leaving, though many others disagree on this. I heard that there were, even still are, arguments after the play over whether or not she should have left the abusive relationship. But I didn’t witness or hear any of these directly.

 I believe that Nora was right in leaving for many reasons. No one is obligated to stay in an abusive relationship and shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for leaving one. I have known many people who were in abusive and terrible relationships who decided to stay instead. These people all soon began to take out their anger on others, namely the kids.  A parent staying doesn’t instantly mean a better life for the kids. Their lives could be better with only one parent or with a new parent, in a new home, with a new family, etc.

I think this relates to the idea people seem to have, that children need a man and woman as parents to be okay. They argue that Nora was depriving them of something necessary to them, that by leaving she took away the only presence of femininity in their lives. I would say that she left the children well in the care of the maid who raised her. Regardless though, this idea that a child needs both a mother and a father, doesn’t hold true, people who have LGBTQ+ parents and who live in a single parent household can also grow up healthily and happily.

A Doll’s House is still a very influential play and is often referenced in various media. In the popular series BoJack Horseman, A Doll’s House is referenced as a play that deeply affected the character, Beatrice Horseman. Beatrice was character who felt trapped in a situation very similar to Nora’s. This comment in the show, when understood through the lens of knowledge of Ibsen’s work, added to the depth of the character of Beatrice Horseman. “Last night she went to see A Doll’s House with a couple of girlfriends, and now she had ideas” is how her husband talks about it, he then mentioned how she “locked herself in the bedroom to weep… loudly” (“Free Churro” BoJack Horseman). Knowing the context of the play allows for a better understanding of Beatrice and makes it easier to appreciate her character. Later in this same show the titular character is shown to be directing a production of Hedda Gabler in prison. The importance of Ibsen’s works within the Horseman family adds to their characters only when one understands these plays. They appear throughout books and songs. The influence of Ibsen’s works is present across many forms of media. Interestingly enough, several characters in the series BoJack Horseman demonstrate, to some extent, what could have happened if Nora had stayed. Beatrice Horseman stayed and ended up taking out her frustration on her son BoJack. Beatrice’s mother Honey also stayed in a bad marriage and was rewarded for it by being lobotomized after having a breakdown. After this Honey was no longer fully able to remember Beatrice. The trauma caused by this, by someone not leaving or feeling like they couldn’t escape, bled down onto Beatrice. This extended the family trauma and led the cycles of abuse to continue.

Nora helps people to understand themselves by being a relatable character. And she helps people to understand other, whether those others be actual people or just characters. It helped me understand myself and to some extent others as well. The play can be used as a format for understanding many characters and situations. I personally related to the play and to Nora when I read it (and still do). It affected me in that it forced me to process some traumatic memories and events in my past. The play brought forth many emotions and memories until it left a lingering effect on me. While watching the play at GCC I was able to witness others reacting to the play for the first time.

Overall, I feel that the production at GCC did justice to the original play. While using an alternate version to omit the children, it had a different effect than it could have. Many people get hung up on the idea of the children and removing them from view really allowed the audience to focus more on Nora. And though it still led to intense debate, it seemingly made the debate more balanced. The choices of lighting and costumes suited the play well and the feeling of being in the house but in the shadowy outside as well is a strange feeling. The actors played their roles incredibly well and moved naturally in their costumes that I would have expected people to struggle to navigate in. The music seemed to fit the themes of the play well and fit with the atmosphere and made some note of the play’s Norwegian setting. The props and set were all stunning. The only complaint I would have would be the audience opening the outside doors broke the sense of reality of the play.

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Directed by Betsy Craig, Grove City College Theater Program, 2022, The Little Theater, Grove City.

“Free Churro.” BoJack Horseman, written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, directed by Amy Winfrey, Netflix, 14, September, 2018.

Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

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Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is based on the novel Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Andrew Donkin created the illustrations for the graphic novel. It was published in 2007, six years after Colfer published the first Artemis Fowl novel.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros

  • Mostly faithful to book despite being shorter
  • Strong storytelling
  • Color themes matched mood and tension

Cons

  • Ugly artwork
  • Unnecessary changes to character appearance
  • Inconsistency in fairy culture

Review

Any fan of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer will notice upon reading this graphic novel that it is faithful to its source. There are even sentences that are word-for-word copies of sentences in the original novel.

The storyline likewise remains unaltered. There are no nasty surprise changes in plot like in some novel adaptations. That’s a relief.

As a result, even in this truncated version of the original, the storytelling is vibrant and engaging. I was hooked from the first page and read the whole graphic novel within an hour.

To provide a sense of mood, Donkin created color themes for different scene that reflected the atmosphere. This was unrealistic, but I recognized that it was an artistic choice that added rather than subtracted from the narrative.

Some of Donkin’s other artistic choices were poor ones. The artwork was ugly. It just was. I get that he has artistic license with how he can portray the characters and scenes, but this was too much.

For example, look at Foaly.

Foaly | Artemis Fowl | Fandom
Foaly from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

He’s blue and looks elderly. He’s not wearing his customary tin hat. Nothing is right about this picture except that he is still a centaur.

If you read the original novel, is this how you pictured Foaly? It’s not how I did. He came off to me as young and geeky, and somewhat comical. Not geriatric.

Butler is even worse. He looks like a disproportional mountain of flesh. In the original series, he was described as a “man mountain,” so I understand where Donkin was coming from. But he looks horrible, and I imagined him as a large muscular man with some style, not just sheer immensity.

Artemis Fowl | Epic Heroism for the 21st Century: a Multimedia Web ...
Butler and Artemis from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel)

Also, can I just say that Artemis’s eyes are supposed to be blue? Not brown. Blue.

10 Best Artimus Fowl images | Fowl, Artemis fowl, Artemis
Holly Short from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Also, Holly is supposed to have “nut-brown” skin. Instead her skin is this sallow shade of white. Why? That was an entirely unnecessary change. There was not a single person of color in this novel, to its detriment. There was no need to whitewash the novel.

Also, I will explain why I think the fairy culture in the graphic novel is inconsistent. In Haven City, the billboards were all written in English rather than Gnommish even though fairies look down on humans. The fairies would never have adopted English for their advertisements and daily life. It’s a silly little mistake, but worth noting.

Conclusion

Based mostly on the story and on some (very few) good artistic choices, I rated this graphic novel a 7 out of 10. Artistic choices including character appearance were its biggest downfall, but I was able to stomach that because of the rich storytelling.

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