Eric Samuelsen: welcome to A DOLL HOUSE

Eric Samuelsen

Eric Samuelsen

Eric Samuelsen’s plays MIASMA, AMERIGO and BORDERLANDS have received their world premieres at Plan-B. His translation of Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL HOUSE kicks off Plan-B’s 2011/12 Script-In-Hand Series on Sunday, August 28 in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.

A DOLL HOUSE examines gender roles, social constraints and the power of secrets through the seemingly happy marriage of Nora and Torvald Helmer.

People frequently ask me what’s involved in translating a play. Well, the goal is to render as closely as possible a text in one language into another language.

But that’s trickier than it sounds. An example:

In the play, Nora admits to her friends that sometimes she wants to say ‘fy fanden’ to Torvald. In Norwegian, ‘fanden’ means ‘the devil.’ So what she’s saying is ‘I want to say to him ‘go to the devil.’ Except that isn’t really something insulting we say in English. What she’s really saying is ‘I want to swear at him, I want to insult him, I want to shock him.’ English is rich in words of invective – we have lots more swear words than they have. Norwegians really just have ‘fanden.’ So to translate the sense of what Nora is saying, I have to come up with something equally shocking and inappropriate in English. But this is also Nora we’re talking about. Which word would she use? What I came up with is ‘Torvald, you’re an asshole.’ That seems to me about right.

I call the play A DOLL HOUSE instead of the traditional A DOLL’S HOUSE. It’s a more accurate translation of the Norwegian title ET DUKKEHJEM. When we buy our kids a house for them to use to play with dolls, we call it ‘a doll house’ – Norwegian children play with ‘a dukkehjem.’

Nora is Torvald’s doll, in a doll house, that is not her own.

All 501 free tickets have been reserved for A DOLL HOUSE so no seats are available. But…you can vote for Eric’s play BORDERLANDS, nominated for three 2011City Weekly Arty Awards: BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION, BEST ORIGINAL PLAY and BEST THEATRE PERFORMANCE (Kirt Bateman) – click here to cast your online ballot by midnight on September 1! And learn more about Plan-B’s 2011/12 season here.

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