Marta Lastufka is returning to the stage after 20 years, starring as a woman who’s returning to a situation she departed 15 years ago, a tidbit she says nobody involved with the production has brought up as they prepare to perform 13 shows in 11 venues throughout Juneau during a 19-day period starting Wednesday.
Instead it’s the mental and physical challenges that Lastufka — a longtime performer at Perseverance Theatre after joining decades ago at the age of 19 — is focusing on as she resumes an art form that’s both familiar and foreign.
“I’m out of practice and my brain does work differently,” she said Thursday. “My 19-year-old daughter runs lines with me. And just from running lines she’s memorizing text, and I have to work very, very hard. So I think it’s a combination of not doing it for a very long time and also just having an older brain.”
Also, Lastufka said, she has to wear a corset for the first time on stage, which is just part of the physical challenge.
“I have to wear a corset and high-heeled shoes,” she said. “Honestly, I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the whole run with high-heeled shoes because I’m in pain.”
Lastufka is joining a cast of three others for Theater Alaska’s production of “In A Doll’s House, Part 2,” a 2017 play by Lucas Hnath that takes place 15 years after the conclusion Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play “A Doll’s House.” In the original play, set in a Norwegian town around 1880, lead character Nora Helmer suffers repression in her marriage in a male-dominated world until at the end she leaves her husband and children.
The play created a cultural controversy about women’s roles at the time. In 2006, a century after Ibsen’s death, it was the world’s most-performed play that year.
In the sequel, nominated for eight Tony Awards, Nora returns 15 years later as a successful novelist with a reason for confronting her husband, daughter and nursemaid.
Flordelino Lagundino, Theater Alaska’s artistic director, said he saw the play on Broadway and considered it an “amazing” narrative of what happens to Nora in the years after the original play,
“During the time period women had a very difficult time finding employment or being away from someone, or making a life after they had gotten divorced — if they could get a divorce,” he said. “Divorces were very, very, very, very unlikely to be had during that time period. So that’s the reason why it’s an amazing four-person play. And it’s a play about ideas, about women’s issues, about freedom, about love, about what it means to really follow your own voice, all these different things. And I they think that with the actors that we have working on it, it’s just really exciting to bring this type of play to Juneau.”
Theater Alaska has staged previous productions throughout Juneau, including a trio of performances this summer, in settings ranging from the lush Jensen-Olsen Arboretum out the road to the University of Alaska Southeast to the Glory Hall. “In A Doll’s House, Part 2” will be performed in a similar variety of venues — all of them ind0ors, naturally, given the season.
“All these different places accomplishes our mission of bringing theater closer to people, bringing it to where they are, so that they feel comfortable participating in viewing theater, so it just makes it accessible,” Lagundino said.
The play uses minimal props — essentially just a couple of chairs — which combined with additional chairs for the audience sitting in a circle around the performers is a setting that both be duplicated in any venue and creates the ideal actor-audience interaction, said Deb O, a founding board member of Theater Alaska and costume designer.
“I love the fact that the audience is the walls — and the walls have ears,” she said.
The role of Nora’s husband, Torvald, is played by longtime local acting stalwart Jake Waid, who plays Nora’s husband, which Lastufka said was a large part of the reason for her return to the stage.
“I’ve worked with him since he was a teenager,” she said, “He’s a wonderful actor.”
The role of nursemaid Anne Marie is played by Becky Orford, who “has been active in Juneau theater off and on over the past 30 years,” according to Theater Alaska. Madelynne Brehmer, literally among a new generation of actors at age 18, plays Nora’s daughter Emmy.
Lastufka said they began rehearsals less than three weeks ago, compared to the six weeks of rehearsals she’s used to from her former acting days, making for yet another challenge. But she said she’s expecting to meet them by the time she returns to the stage opening night.
“I really should have my lines since we open in a week,” she said. “I’ve been working very, very hard.”
Know & Go
What: “In A Doll’s House, Part 2,” by Theater Alaska
When: Nov. 1-19
Where: Various venues (see schedule below)
Tickets: Free – Donations welcome
• Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Filipino Community Hall, 251 S. Franklin St.
• Friday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m., Douglas Public Library, 1016 3rd St.
• Saturday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m., Lecture Hall at the Alaska State Museum, 395 Whittier St.
• Sunday, Nov. 5, 3 p.m., Juneau Arts and Culture Center, 350 Whittier St.
• Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2 p.m., Pioneer Home, 4675 Glacier Hwy.
• Thursday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m., Mendenhall Valley Library, 3025 Dimond Park Loop
• Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m., Church of the Holy Trinity, 415 Fourth St.
• Saturday, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., Sealaska Heritage Institute Clan House – Shuká Hít, 105 Heritage Way.
• Sunday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m., The Glory Hall, 8715 Teal St.
• Thursday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m., Juneau Makerspace, 3915 N. Douglas Hwy.
• Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., UAS Egan Library, 11066 Auke Lake Way
• Saturday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., UAS Egan Library, 11066 Auke Lake Way
• Sunday, Nov. 19, 3 p.m., Sealaska Heritage Institute Clan House – Shuká Hít, 105 Heritage Way.