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The Caged Bird Sings

Susan Agin and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center will present Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A DOLL’s HOUSE for an invited audience in April as part of an arts and education program.

Ibsen’s play still projects a substantial message – one of female empowerment, abuse, misogyny, and – as we look at it through the lens of post-Trump America – high crime and corruption.

Ms. Agin brought Jay Michaels aboard to direct the production. Michaels, a professor of communications and theater are various universities, is also known for his direction and production of much of Shakespeare’s canon felt right at home with Ibsen: “this play was banned in Germany because of its ending – highly unconventional for the time,” he said, “what exactly was too shocking?” he added. “I think anyone who has been raised in a very sheltered environment or a more conservative environment and had an epiphany moment or has not been free to be themselves because of certain views, will be able to relate to Nora,” chimed Lydia Kalman, who plays the focus of the piece … Nora.

Kalman, a classically trained actor for both theater and film/TV, is credited with work Off and Off-Off Broadway, as well as several indie films. Kalman has been seen in heavy dramas, lighted-hearted comedies, Shakespeare, sketch comedy, and everything in between. She and co-star Paul Sheehan even shot an indie horror film – an historic one. Marcus Slabine’s The Dark Offerings was one of the first indie films to shoot during the pandemic adhering to all CDC guidelines and will be released later this year.

Lydia took a few minutes to share her thoughts on the production.

Is Doll’s House still groundbreaking today?

I think in some ways it is. For the majority of modern/western culture, it’s very normal for women to be independent and to lead independent lives. Though we are still fighting for equal pay for equal work and reproductive rights and so forth. But, for the most part we are allowed to lead our own independent lives. But there are still households in this country and around the world where women are expected to be the dutiful wife and mother and dedicate her life to such service. And for women who are not fulfilled by such a lifestyle, there is still that same struggle.

How has the role of Nora changed over the century since its writing?

I don’t think the role of Nora has changed too much over the century. I think audience members, women especially, will be routing for her to find her wings and fly. And I think anyone who has been raised in a very sheltered environment or a more conservative environment and had an epiphany moment or has not been free to be themselves because of certain views, will be able to relate to Nora.

Hiw important to offer-up the classics to colleges, universities, and other institutes of learning?

It’s very important to share classic works with college students and younger audiences. Classic works reflect the times they were written in, art imitates life imitates art. And just like studying history, it’s important to have a full picture of history so as not to repeat mistakes of the past. And…classics can still inspire and move hearts and make people laugh and cry and entertain!

What’s Next?

My next project is a recurring role on the first season of a new mystery series. I can’t give away any more details quite yet, sorry about that. But I’ll start filming at the end of April.


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