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Nora: A Doll's House


October 6-12, 2022


Scene Dock Theater


Stephanie Shroyer


University of Southern California

Lighting Design

Jade Wolff

Scenic Design

Kate Schaaf

Costume Design

Freddie Patrick

Sound Design

Amelia Anello

Stage Manager

Harrison Newton

Technical Director

Duncan Mahoney

Society tells us that Nora is the perfect wife and mother. She is dutiful, beautiful and everything is always in its right place. But when a secret from her past comes back to haunt her, her life rapidly unravels. Over the course of three days, Nora must fight to protect herself and her family or risk losing everything. A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s brutal portrayal of womanhood caused outrage when it was first performed in 1879. This bold new adaptation reframes the drama in three different time periods. The fight for women’s suffrage, the Swinging ’60s and today’s world intertwine in this urgent, poetic play that asks how far have we really come in the past 100 years?

Nora: A Doll’s House remains one of the designs that I am most proud of. It marks one of the best collaborations between the creative team that I have ever been a part of. The design concept for the show was based around a fireplace, and as the show progressed and the warmth of Nora’s life faded away, the fire slowly went out. Purple was strongly associated with Nora, and so when the three different Nora’s broke out of the world of the play to interact with each other and speak in the third person, there was a significant sound and lighting change, with reverb added to give the appearance of the Nora’s shouting into the void, of being alone. The final design element that worked well was the presence of Nora’s children, heard and spoken about, but never physically seen. The sound effects for them playing out in the yard was the same every time, to demonstrate how Nora herself could not bring herself to pay enough attention to hear something different.

The show was designed with EAW speakers, a Meyer sub, QLab 4, and a Yamaha QL1. There were six shotgun microphones hung from the grid to provide the reverb effects. This proved to be a challenge in our L-shape configuration, and I fought a lot of feedback issues before fully ringing out and EQ the mics, as well as programming their effects to speakers that they were not in the dispersion pattern of. An incredibly rewarding show creatively, that technically challenged me in a great way.

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