Playwright Amy Herzog is the first woman to adapt Ibsen’s protofeminist play for Broadway.
In late 2020, Oscar winner Jessica Chastain was filming the HBO miniseries Scenes From a Marriage in New York City. At the same time, she was in conversation with British director Jamie Lloyd on a potential West End revival of A Doll’s House, in which she would play Nora. Lloyd then asked Chastain about bringing on a female playwright to adapt the Ibsen play. Recalls Chastain, “‘He said, ‘You know, I really think we need a woman’s voice on this.’ And I couldn’t agree with him more.” Luckily Chastain knew just the writer. Enter Obie-winning playwright Amy Herzog.
Chastain and Herzog had met on Scenes From a Marriage, where Herzog co-wrote the series and was the executive producer. And they had circled each other for years prior. Chastain had attended Juilliard with Herzog’s husband, Tony-winning director Sam Gold—and she had seen Herzog’s play The Great God Pan (starring a pre-Succession Jeremy Strong) Off-Broadway in 2012).
When they spoke to Playbill, Herzog was still fine-tuning her adaptation of A Doll’s House, which opens March 9 at the Hudson Theatre. Herzog’s inclusion is fitting considering that A Doll’s House is regarded a pivotal piece of feminist literature. Previous Broadway productions of Ibsen’s text, which was originally in Norwegian, used adaptations written by male authors. This new version, written by Herzog and led by Chastain, who has made waves in Hollywood for her advocacy for pay equity, finally puts women in charge of the storytelling (though the 1997 revival adapted by Frank McGuinness used a translation by Charlotte Barslund as its base).
When they spoke with Playbill, it was still early on in the rehearsal period but already, Chastain was effusive, saying that in contrast to how mannered and “less human” adaptations of classic texts can sometimes be, Herzog’s feels fresh and immediately accessible: “She makes it just feel so real and so honest and so personal. The language feels like it belongs to everyone in the room,” enthuses Chastain. “I find it to be incredibly inspiring to work on. I don’t have to manufacture, I don’t have to dig deep. I can just simply say the words and allow them to take me to places that I hadn’t planned out. And that’s a gift as an actor, to get that kind of text.”
Touched, and slightly stunned, Herzog responds, “Thank you, Jessica.”
Read the full article/interview in our press library.