Five minutes with Michael Woodwood

Michael Woodwood

Michael Woodwood

First published in Entertainment & Lifestyle

Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in 1879, why do you think it is still relevant today?

It still remains one of dramatic literature’s greatest appeals for the rights of women.

Although much has been achieved in equality for women one could be excused for thinking that we are returning to 19th Century values when you look at the oppression many women in the world are facing today. The play’s cry for women to be recognised as equal partners in a marriage is as relevant as it has ever been, and the subject of what a marriage constitutes, whether it be from a sexual, financial, religious or political point of view, still remains contentious in our society.

The play is very much about female emancipation. What has it got to offer male audiences?

At the end of the play Nora is insistent that she must discover herself, must learn who she is as a person before she can be a proper wife and mother. I think the same is true for men today as much as women; one must discover who you are, your values, strengths, weaknesses and what you really believe in, before you commit yourself to a political cause for instance or enter into a relationship. You cannot be like Nora and live a life dictated by your father or husband, as Steve Jobs said a few months before he died: ‘Don’t spend your time living someone else’s life’.

Why do you think Ibsen chose to call his play A Doll’s House?

Because the two main characters are playing at a marriage rather like children who play in a Wendy house or move dolls around in a doll’s house to simulate grown up relationships.

Nora and her husband are not honest with each other and perform their roles without any real understanding of the emotional and political commitment they must make to each other in order to make their relationship anything other than a game.

Do you have a favourite Ibsen quote?

Many; what about this one from An Enemy of the People: ‘You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.’

What is your greatest achievement so far?

As an actor: playing the title role in Titus Andronicus for the Neuss Shakespeare Festival in Germany. As a director: Love on the Tracks, a touring production I directed for the Watermill Theatre, in Newbury, a few years ago. We started with a small production at the Soho theatre and ended up doing a tour.

Who is your theatrical hero/heroine (dead or alive) and why?

Laurence Olivier: for all he achieved in acting, directing and in starting the National Theatre.

His performances were electric, incredibly inventive and as an actor he wasn’t afraid of doing something different.

  • UK Touring Theatre’s, A Doll’s House, The Customs House, South Shields, October 6 (0191-454-1234), Alnwick Playhouse – October 7 (0166-551-0785) and Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond – October 31(017-488-25252)

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