Past is simulation

Past is simulation - The ladies of the sea vs. Nora, and other stories of the society (2006) was a dance production by herStay based on Henrik Ibsen's characters Nora from A Doll's House and Ellida Wangel from The Lady from the Sea.

Monica Emilie Herstad choreographed it.


(Objekt ID 1362)
Object type Production
Premiere Navember 23, 2006
Produced by herStay
Coproducers The Ibsen Festival
Audience Adults
Expressions Multidisciplinary, Dance, Performance, Contemporary dance
Running period Navember 23, 2006  
Duration 50 minutes
Website herStay

Requirements to venue

Blackout Yes

In Past is simulation - The ladies of the sea vs. Nora, and other stories of the society by herStay the choreographer and dancer Monica Emilie Herstad had found inspiration in Henrik Ibsen, Elfride Jelinek and Susan Sontag.

The production referred to Elfride Jelinek's anarchist interpretation of the Nora character of the text Was geschah, nachdem Nora iren Mann verlassen hatte oder Stützen der Geselleschaften [What Happened after Nora Left Her Husband or Pillars of Society] (1978). Herstad was also inspired by Ibsen's broken, repetitive and physical patterns of behaviour as described in the direction notes of Susan Sontag's in her reinterpretation of The Lady from the Sea for Robert Wilson.

Critic Elisabeth Leinslie describes the production as follows, at

"In Herstad's universe the dancers are at the centre; four women dressed in model-like contemporary chic; with high heels, dresses, outré hairdos and masks. They are very feminine and stereotypical – and they are all extracts from and comments to Ibsen's women. The female characters are twisted and turned, but stay within their conventional frames. They tell us something about how we repeat ourselves; how the women of the past, as well as the contemporary women punish each other and are captives in their own minds, bodies, behaviour patterns and cultural codes."

Past is simulation was part of the Ibsen Year 2006. At the time Monica Emilie Herstad was connected to The Centre for Ibsen Studies on a guest scholar grant. The production sprung out from her work at the centre.

Supported by: Arts Council Norway, the municipality of Oslo, represented by the department for culture and sports.


Leinslie, Elisabeth (08.12.2006). Feministisk melankoli (literally: Feminist melancholy). Kunstkritikk,, 07.12.2010,

Vallat, Marianne Dyrnes, Tom Klev og Kristian Selthun (2006). Black Box Teater Oslo. The autumn of 2006. Black Box Teater Oslo [Oslo], page 31.

Name Role
Henrik Ibsen – Playwright
Monica Emilie Herstad – Script
Monica Emilie Herstad – Direction
Monica Emilie Herstad – Choreography
Hicham Bouddén – Composition (dj)
Monica Emilie Herstad – Stage design
Haavard Augestad – Artist
Monica Emilie Herstad – Video/Film
Minna Heikkilä – Lighting design
Kenya Foss Parsons – Dancer
Monica Emilie Herstad – Dancer
Beata Kretovicova Iden – Dancer
Andrea Csaszni Rygh – Dancer
Maria Ryther Hoem – Dancer
Tatsiana Riber Sparre – Dancer
Performance dates
Navember 26, 2006Lille scene (Marstrandgata) – Show
Navember 25, 2006Lille scene (Marstrandgata) – Show
Navember 24, 2006Lille scene (Marstrandgata) – Show
Navember 23, 2006Lille scene (Marstrandgata) – Worldwide premiere
Press coverage

Elisabeth Leinslie, 08.12.2006, Feministisk melankoli (literally: Feminist melancholy), [Oslo]:
"Herstad opens the performance herself, with a solo, in communication with a small yellow plane circling the air. She seems incarcerated in her own unfree body, in powerful contrast to the liberation-hailing plane. It is a poetic and heart-breaking start to a dramatic comment to women in today's society. (...) The work communicates with the spectator. For; while the work is characterised by introvert meditation it is also marked by atmospheric suggestion. This duplicity grabs hold of us, and puts us in a meditative condition, generating contemplation as well as emotions."

02.01.2007, NRK P2, Scenerom:
herStay performance Past is simulation - The ladies of the sea vs. Nora, and other stories of the society, is pointed out as the theatre experience of the year, described as the performance that NRK/ P2 Scenerom considers worthy of remembrance, from the year 2006, for its excellence. Listen to the radio stream (in Norwegian) at NRK P2,