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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kid's Play in A DOLL'S HOUSE

In A DOLL'S HOUSE, two children are needed to play Nora and Torvald Helmer's children Ivan and Emmy. Continuing Williamstown Theatre Festival's connection with the surrounding community, two local children, Rose & Sol, were cast as Emmy and Ivan. We talked to Rose & Sol themselves, as well as Knud Adams, Assistant Director, to learn a bit more about what this process has been like.

Meet Rose & Sol

Why do you like to act
Rose: Acting is fun and I like playing Emmy.
Sol: I get to meet a lot of new people and acting is fun.

What other activities do you like to do?
Rose: I like to play the magnet game and drawing and playing on my iPad. I like to do fun stuff like monopoly, twin cities, and cards.
Sol: I like baseball, playing board games, having my friends over, playing with legos and reading.

What is your favorite part about working with Knud?
Rose: He is nice and kind and helpful.
Sol: He is helpful, nice and he knows a lot about acting.

Are you excited about being in A DOLL'S HOUSE?
Rose: It is very fun and I like the costumes.
Sol: It is very fun and I like working with the people.

Rose and Sol's parents, Richard and Sharon, added, "We are impressed with the sensitivity of the people involved in the production. There is a genuine effort to help the children on and off stage. The children come home each day and say, 'I am glad I am doing this, I really like it.'"

Some questions for Knud Adams, Assistant Director

Can you tell us a little about the two kids and who they are playing in the show?
Sol and Rose are real-life brother and sister playing Ivar and Emmy, the children of Nora and Torvald Helmer. In our production of A DOLL'S HOUSE, they also have a dog named Tashi, played by a dog named Tashi. We’ve tried to make the Helmer’s home as contemporary and realistic as possible. The kids help fill in the family life of the play. Their main job is to be adorable, and they fit the bill admirably.

What is the process of working with children like? How does rehearsing with children differ from any other rehearsals?
There are things you assume most actors will already know, such as the importance of saying their lines in order, sticking to the story, and the ability to work a zipper. However, some skills that take actors years to hone come naturally to kids, like improvising dialogue, committing to make-believe, and being generally interesting to watch onstage. Working with kids can feel more like cheerleading and playtime than rehearsing, and you spend a surprising amount of time crawling on all fours.

What's been your favorite part about working with the children?
Getting to know Sol and Rose has been a blast. They’re intelligent and funny and adventuresome. After working with the kids in a separate rehearsal room, it was great to introduce them to the rest of the cast. The kids made themselves right at home, attaching themselves to Lily Rabe (who plays their mother Nora). They quickly recognized Krogstad, played by Adam Rothenberg. Rose pointed across the room and whispered, “There’s the bad man.”

Are there any fun stories from the rehearsal room?
In one scene, Nora helps the kids remove their snow gear, including hats, boots, coats, and mittens. For a few rehearsals, Rose would cry “Ow!” whenever her mittens were pulled off. I kept asking if the mittens were hurting her, but they weren’t: It was just a character choice.

In order to get Tashi to play with the kids, Sol gamely agreed to have easy cheese sprayed behind his ear for the dog to find. We tried it once, and Sol was soon overcome by dog licks. We cut the moment.

Has working with kids taught you anything?
When directing kids, you have to be very clear and specific. They won’t let you get away with any equivocating. It’s been a great lesson in communication. Also, working on a play as large and as dense as A DOLL'S HOUSE, it’s easy to get lost wresting with big psychological and dramaturgical questions. Having the kids around reminded me that essentially we’re here to play dress up and make-believe.

Could you give your own "kid friendly" synopsis of A DOLL'S HOUSE?
Once upon a time, there was a very pretty mommy named Nora who had a very big secret. One day, a bad man came to her house and threatened to tell her secret to the whole world. Then Nora had to fight to protect her secret, her children, and her husband. (Spoiler alert!) When Nora’s husband found out about her secret, he got very mad. She didn't like that he got mad, so she decided not live with him anymore.

Come see Rose & Sol make their WTF debut! A DOLL'S HOUSE plays on the Nikos Stage from July 20-31. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, by calling (414) 597-3400, or online.

1 comment:

Box o mania play house said...

I love this play! It is one of my favorites to teach, too. Thanks!

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