tv Charlie Rose PBS March 18, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> charlie: welcome to the program. with we begin with a look at the russian-american conflict over crimea talking to tom friedman and davi david sanger of the "nw york times." >> i think obama's response is measured to our interests. it's quite reelingist. i don't buy the criticism that he's manifested weakness. ronald reaken at his most angriest would not be going to war to reverse putin's intervention in ukraine, let's be honest about that. and george w. bush didn't go to war to reverse putin's intervention in georgia. >> charlie: we conclude with hattie morahan and dominic rowan starring in "a doll's house" by ibsen at the brooklyn academy of
music. >> it talks about how to be honest to long-time partners, you know, how to be -- the big questions. you know, how to be true to yourself but also kind. you know, those are the difficult things about how to be a good person, but i don't think one can ignore the context in which the play was first put on and what it seems to have meant to people. >> charlie: tom friedman, david sanger, hattie morahan and dominic rowan when we continue.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: we begin tonight with the ongoing crisis in ukraine. sunday, residents of crimean peninsula voted overwhelmingly to sus seed and join russia. vladimir putin recognizes crimea as a sovereign state.
kiev and ukraine have called it illegal. european union and united states have imposed sanctions on high-ranking russian officials. president obama spoke earlier today. >> we'll continue to make sheer to russia thatter provocations will do nothing but diminish russia's place in the world. international community will continue to stand together to opposed violations of ukrainian sowfty and integrity and continued military intervention in ukraine will only deepen russia's isolation and exact a greater toll on the russian economy. going forward we can calibrate our response based on whether russia chooses to escalate or deescalate the situation. >> charlie: joining me from washington, the "new york times" columnist tom friedman and also from the "new york times" david sanger, the national security correspondents. his front page today looks at criticism leveled at obama's leadership on foreign policy.
i am pleased to have them. david, let me begin with you. you say the obama policy is being put to test in ukraine and crimea. what's the policy and what is the test? >> well, charley, if you think about -- well, charlie, if you think about the first term in the obama administration, he deliberately moved to what in the white house they a called a light footprilhn strategy and we talked about it before on this show, and the theory of it was the era of sending 100,000 or 150,000 troops to a country of six or seven years, trying to do nation-building, that all had to end and the light footprint is about using drones, which he obviously used far more than president bush did, using cyber in cases like iran, using special forces to do a very quick in and out, and then using the treasury department as his favorite non-combatant command, and that was very successful, for example, in bringing the iranians to the table.
we still don't know whether or not that's going to work. but if you think about the second term, the light footprint really has kind of, as one of president obama's former advisers said to me, run out of gas, an it's run out of gas because, when you're dealing with problems like syria's assad or like vladimir putin going into a sovereign state and taking over crimea and threatening the rest of ukraine, drones, cybers, special forces and maybe even the usual economic tools don't work terribly effectively. and i think that, while you've seen president obama try to ratchet up the pressure -- and he did it again today with that announcement and sanctions on individual aids and the kremlin and so forth -- this is not a strategy that yields very big results right away. it may over time. it may in the long term. and more importantly, i think it's probably not going to be
effective in getting any of the recent invasion of crimea reversed. and, so, i think we are challenging cases today that after three years of the strategy, assad is stronger than he was, say, a year ago, and there's no telling whether or not any of this is having any real effect on putin. >> you said obama is surely the first president to be accused of acting in foreign policy like pollyanna, john wayne and henry kissinger in the same month. which one is he required to be now? >> well, i think he's acted in those ways in a way because he's reflecting i think the feeling of the american people. there's a deep ambivalence about getting involved in a place like syria in the middle east, which really can only be involved in my view by boots on the ground, someone monopolizing the use of force there. there is no, i think, easy
answer in syria and i think americans are deeply aware of getting involved in a place like that. in crimea, you have a peninsula, basically, that was part of the soviet union, given away in essentially '54 to ukraine, where the people there are russian speakers and want to be part of russia and the question is really, you know, how deeply are you going to get involved in trying to reverse that? i mean, what are our interests there? and i think our interests there are rather limited and i think obama's response is measured to our interest there. in a since, it' kissingerian, is quite realest. i don't buy it that it's manifest weakness. ronald reaken at his angriest would not be going to war to reveers putin's intervention in ukraine, let's be honest about
that, and george w. bush didn't go to war to reverse putin's intervention in georgia. a lot of this is bhait called drive-by criticism. everybody laughs, but it's drive-by criticism. it has no connection to the real options at hand, but it doesn't reflect anything that the american people really want now. >> charlie: americans want to focus on their own self here and get their own nation building in order rather than involving themself in where else. if we do that, is that a vacuum of leadership in the world that someone else might inherit? tom? >> you know, my feeling right now, charlie, is that the most important thing we can do is rebuild our strength. this is not -- it's partly like vietnam but in a way it's different. we fought two wars in the middle east, neither of which produce
outcomes that i think anyone in america would argue were worth the investment. in treasure, we spent about $1 trillion in afghanistan, $1 trillion in iraq and under the bush administration, we cut taxes. for the first time in american history, we cut taxes while fighting two foreign wars, let alone one, and, as a result, we are fiscally in a different place, and that has obviously limited -- we see the impact in the pentagon budget and more broadly. my own feeling is we have got to rebuild our strength at home, and what worries me is, right now, we are neither doing nation-building abroad or at home at the speed, scope and scale we need, and that really does lead to the kind of vacuum you're talking about. my view on this is very simple in -- you know, we make lot of mistakes in the world, the united states, lord knows we do.
but we have this hugely important role to play in the world in supporting the global commons, whether supporting protects the islands in the pacific or upholding the financial markets, et cetera. if we go weak as a country, your kids won't just grow up in a different america, but in a fundamentally different world so that, at this point, in the wake of what's happened in the last decade, we have to take one step back in order to rebuild our strength in order to play the role i think we need to play in the world, then i will support that. but what worries me is we're taking a step back, and we've got this civil war at home between our own version of shiites and sunnis called republicans and democrats so we're neither doing the kind of nation building we need to do at home or abroad. that is a scarier world. >> charlie: but, david, many people -- and you've seen this written time after time by both
analysts, drive-by and others, and countries like scrap saudi a and others, where the president says i'm going to get them to destroy chemical weapons, not going to bomb them, as a sign of weakness. >> that's one thing in the arab world you hear the most. i don't think it has to do with how the president came out. a week or two he came out where the syrians are slowly dismantling the weapons. the problem is making a series of threats and backing away from them. you talked about national interests and tom talked about national interests and i think if there is a big difference between the obama and bush
doctrines is obama is driven very much by national interests. he says, if you can establish why this poses a direct threat to the united states, i'm there, and if it's just a question of the global commons, as tom mentioned before, then he wants to make sure that others in the neighborhood, others who rely on those commons are in the game as well. so he wouldn't go into libya in a big way without the arab league and nato going there first. that makes sense in a world in which you have to rationalize american resources and a world in which you have to recognize that we can't get into every fight. but it does create a vacuum and there are some global commons that were simply not going to go in and deal with, and there are some places like syria and crimea where you come to the determination it's not really in our direct national interests. >> charlie: tom, do you believe crimea will be a disaster for vladimir putin?
>> i think it could be, charlie, for two reasons. one is, in the wake of what happened today -- as david said, the president announced sanctions on a limited number of senior russian officials -- but i think did not total up the number of people, but think about the signal that sends to investors in russia, and the signal that sends is beware, and that's the first thing. what are the long-term implications of that. beware of investing in russia. i think the second thing that could really haunt putin about ukraine is about crimea and ukraine much larger is that, in effect, his seizure of ukraine could have the impact -- could, if we're smart -- on the united states and on europe and particularly germany. >> charlie: right. in changing our energy policy the way the 1973 oil embargo had
an impact on us. in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo, that's when we changed the oil standards, huge push to clean energy and renewables. we didn't sustain it, unfortunately. but i think that the signal this sends to europe that you need to end your addiction on russian oil and gas, otherwise you're going to be subject to their blackmail, that the long-term implications of launching us and europe, particularly germany at the center of this story, on a different energy path that produces far less western dependence on russia's oil and gas, that could be a huge loss for putin, but only in the long run. >> charlie: david. i agree. i think what's notable about president obama's strategy and i think to, many people, one of the most commendable elements of it is he does play the long game and i think, over time, putin could welcome to regret this, even if he takes short-term
steps to cut off some gas to europe and so forth. the europeans need the gas, putin needs the revenue. but the difficulty is the -- the difficulty the president is running into now is if you're playing the long game, it can look like you're losing a lot of short, tactical conflicts and right now he's got to make sure putin doesn't move from crimea to the rest of ukraine. so he needs to escalate these well enough that it signals, as tom suggested before, that the price will be truly higher if he goes into ukraine. i'm not sure putin is doing the same calculus that president obama is. >> charlie: charlie, to david's point there's a wonderful quote in the economist's latest issue of russian reacting to putin's intervention in crimea in the name of russian speakers, and it was a guy living in central russia. he says, with we have a lot of russian speakers here, too, and we're really suffering. we're suffering with no jobs or
i have beeinfrastructure. i don't remember the exact quote. but the morning after, numbers are up, putin's popularity, solidarity with russian speakers at home and abroad. let's see how it plays out over time. the ruble and russian markets have been hammered. we'll see what happens to foreign direct investment. you know, there's always the morning after and there's the morning after the morning after, and the morning after the morning after is when the real laws of gravity start to take hold on currencies, markets, long-term investment. let's see where we are in six months on that do. we assume putin will act rationally or will his messianic ideas about russian's sphere of influence cause him to take risks he might not otherwise have taken in a more strategic mind? >> it's a very hard call on that because, if we understood more about putin's mind, there
probably would have been more intelligence agency warning that he was getting ready to react to what was a big loss to him in the ukraine by going in and taking crimea, and that was a surprise. now, we're not very good at doing this, charlie. we misjudged the chinese over the past year about how aggressively they would create an air defense zone or begin to threaten some islands. we've misjudged the north koreans whether or not they would act rationally. two years ago, most intelligence reports suggested kim young un's uncle would be running the country and he would be a pup et, and now the uncle is dead. so we're not good at understanding motivations.
>> there's something very old about this story and we talk about russia's sphere of influence and connection to crimea and ukraine and kiev in particular. but there are new things going on and what is new is that we live in a world now of the amplified citizen, the super empowered individual. we saw it play out in egypt. we saw egyptians take to the streets and say to their leader, look, we're not just a bunch of chickens, you get to pass to your son. we've seen ukrainians now take to the streets in very large numbers and say to putin, you know, we're not just a bunch of cattle that you get to decide whether our future is in the e.u. and russia. and, so, i would urge everyone to stand back a little bit and say, maybe we're in the middle of something very new here. for the first time, every leader today is in a two-way conversation with his people. the day of one-way conversations is over. and, so, putin may have all
these cold war instincts and all these russian nationalist impulses and they are not irrelevant but i would argue there's something new going on in the world today and i'm keeping my powder dry. i want to see how this plays out. i don't think this is like a straight line back to russia at all. >> tom, tell me why, as you wrote in a column and as i interviewed, one of the political leaders in tunisia, why is tunisia the exception to the consequences of the arab spring? >> that's a good question, charlie, and, for me, a very simple answer. it's two things. first of all, the tunisians, after some struggle and loss to life, came to the only political conclusion possible in any of these pluralistic societies, that is going forward. the central political doctrine have to be no victory no vanquish, that everyone has to
be included in the political outcome and in tunisia, it had civil societies, unions, business groups, women's associations, lawyers associations that turned out to be mediators between the two big factions there, which was secular and religious camps. those two things, the principal of no victory no vanquish, and the fact they had an internal moderator, did not have to ex oo exhort to key factors. >> charlie: when you consider the foreign policy, you have to consider the idea of drawing red lines and things like that. sometimes are you better not to have put it in that way unless you are prepared to defend it in a certain way. >> i think you're exactly right, charlie, and we've seen this happen a few times. i mean, you mentioned the syrian
chemical weapons red line but, before that, you had the president come out nearly three years ago now and tell president assad and syria that he had to go, and, yet, there was no plan at the white house to assure that he did that. and, so, while it's very important to play the long game, and while i agree completely with tom that it's not at all clear how crimea, for example, is going to work out, you have to have a plan in place so that, when the american credibility is put on the line, you've got a way to enforce it and make sure there's a price, and i think that's been a pretty steep learning curve for this administration. i think he was more measured in the case of crimea, and i think, if anything, the president's been out ahead of his european allies. he's sort of been dragging chancellor merkel of germany and other europeans along in trying to stiffen their spine on the
sanctions. now, they have more to lose in the course of this than we do, and, you know, here he's got, in the case of russia, some real leverage. each is a case where our leverage is tender out to have been overrated. you know, how many times did you hear the president's staff warn, you know, if you continue to jail journalists, if you beat up dissidents, if you suppress descent, that military is going to go away. i had a senior official say they didn't care about much about our military aid in the end. we have to remember these aren't really about us and we don't hold that much leverage. >> charlie: because the believed get it from other sources, in that part. >> and it wasn't that big. i go back to bankrupt minnesota, al shaver ended the broadcast saying when you win say little, when you lose say
less. ates great foreign policy principal. when you win say little, when you lose say less and never try to draw a red line in a pool of blood. who is going to notice our red line? you know, in what was a pool of blood and in what is a home-grown civil war where either you are on the ground and monopolizing force or nobody's going to pay attention to you. at the end of the day, you know, the middle east only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them. and i think it's a very important thing to keep in mind about ukraine as well because i think ukraine can succeed in breaking free at least the part of ukraine that wants to break free of putin's grip and join the e.u. or have a future with europe if they remain united themselves, if you don't see the ultra nationalist parties take over, if they're inclusive of the more russian speaking parts
of the population. i think first and foremost, it depends on what they can do, if they can hold together. if they can't hold together and are divided and abusive of russian speakers or get drawn into what putin will try to do which is make them abusive, which is exactly the play book syria's leader bashar assad did. but what ukrainians do first and foremost is going to be the most important thing because if they can depict this as the free ukrainian people united about their future, wanting to be part of europe and the european union against a putin demanding they be part of some cockamamie, you know, eurasian whatever which is basically nothing more than an oil and gas union, i think putin loses in the end. i think putin loses. >> there is a sense of the president certainly working the
phones in order to develop a united front in this and having brought the europeans to a further place than many thought they might come when this first outbreak happened. >> this is their neighborhood. they do have to take the lead. and they're going to have to take the lead in the financial assistance to ukraine, and they're going to have to take the lead. ultimately merkel will have to lead on. this putin has, i think, zero respect for any of the other european leaders. he does, i think, respect merkel. there is something putin has to be careful about. germany has gone down a path of non-violence, basically, of having a very small military and armed forces. does russia want to awaken -- reawaken a germany as a sleeping military giant? because if they go too far in ukraine, they could do that, too.
>> charlie, i think that part of the reason that you saw the president get so engaged with the europeans -- and i think it was probably the most intensive moments that i've seen just covering this white house in which he has been on the phone every day to european leaders, is that it's been important to him to show to putin that he could reverse a process that bill clinton really got going, you know, nearly 20 years ago, and george h.w. bush before him. you know, for years, europe was working on the assumption they would integrate the russians and integrate them some more and the more they got wrapped up with europe the more their behavior would be somewhat controlled. now, in putin, in this moment, they have reached a point where the russian elite has said, no, this is the wrong way for us to go. the more we're engaged with them, the more they'll have their tentacles into us. we need to be a separate power. so what you've seen president
obama doing in these phone calls is essentially getting the europeans accustomed to the fact that he may have to throw the entire process into reverse, that they may all have to, together, think about a life separate and apart from being integrated with russia, and that's a very difficult thing to do because, for all the reasons tom laid out before, the economic and political connections have grown so strong over the years, that gives us enormous leverage, gives putin some leverage. >> charlie, last time i was in moscow, which was about a year ago, i don't remember, i was in a traffic jam from the airport. i believe it took me two hours to get from the airport into moscow, maybe more than that, and that's because russia's middle class has exploded. everybody's got a car now, some have two, and it's partly and largely on the back of oil and
gas prices, but not entirely, and partly on the back of russia's integration with the world, much more foreign investment. again, those are laws of gravity. let's see how all those investments are affected over time, what that does to the rising middle class in russia, particularly the urban middle class which has been the source of opposition to putin. so i wouldn't make any predictions about how this story will unfold just the morning after. >> are we looking at a time -- this will be my last question, both of you, where sanctions have proven themselves at least in getting the attention of a government and understanding what they have at stake so that they are a much more powerful weapon than they have been? >> well, the model here, charlie, is iran, and it's interesting because barack obama did not invent a concept of sanctions, and he didn't even invent the concept of sanctions on iran. what he did invent was
convincing the world that sanctions only worked if everybody is all in on them. and the only reason that they worked in the iran case was that there was europea european euror bent of asian unity, even the chinese over time took more oil from suppliers other than the iranians because the u.s. made a case to them that it wasn't in their own national interest to depend on iran and an unstable regime and a possibility of conflict in the persian gulf for oil they need each and every day. now, making that work with russia is going to be vastly more difficult and, so, i'm not as persuaded that the sanctions will be as effective here and what we've learned is it's not a quick process. >> charlie: it takes a while. that's why it's a long-term game. tom, sanctions? >> i agree with david.
when we sanctioned iran, you had to give up pistachios, persia carpets, and oil if you were a customer of the iranian oil industry but you could find alternatives. in other words, it really wasn't very painful for countries imposing the sanctions. as david said, this will be different. this guy can turn off your heat. >> charlie: turn off the heat for europe. >> right. >> charlie: before i go, tom, tell me one more time what the announcer said in minnesota? >> when you win say little, when you lose say less. good night and good sports. >> charlie: wise words (laughter) thank you, david, thank you, tom. >> charlie: "a doll's house" is henry gibson's groundbreaking drama of 1979, seen as a landmark for feminist literature and realism in the theater. a british production at the brooklyn academy of music through march 23rd.
joining me hattie morahan and dominic rowan. ben bradley of the "new york times" wrote, by the end of "a doll's house," my nerves were ground meet. i couldn't breathe in a taxi headed back. i don't think either of us expected to get much sleep but when theater is this exciting it's well worth a little insomnia. here's a look at the production. >> my husband is! (laughter) >> you must love me very much. this is exactly how it should be! >> sometimes i have terrible urges. >> urges? you're hiding something from me.
>> what do you mean? how can you tell? >> i can help you in any way. you know how happy that would make me. >> you have no idea! lie. it contaminates you. (arguing) >> do you have any idea what you've done? >> one more hour! [ whispering). >> you were looking away. i was. t's different than the theater, isn't it? >> yeah. to watch it on the screen like that. >> and we recorded that two years ago. the production in our heads, at least, feels like it's changed
quite a bit. >> charlie: what happens after march 23? >> well, we finish on march 23 and then we have no idea. we have been very lucky. we've had several opportunities to play it and, yeah. >> it's the gift that keeps giving. >> charlie: tell me about your two characters. tell me about nora. >> so, nora, she's sort of a puzzle that i've had a huge thrill in trying to unpick. she's a character that i guess that ibsen gives us lots of clues in the play about her upbringing and history and she's a product of a very distorted upbringing, and she sees her plays in the world -- place in the world through our eyes in a
very -- i guess it's a very sort of damaged but quite amusing when you first come across it. when the play enters, you meet a couple that appear to have everything, it's a great moment in their lives, but their behavior -- they play lots of games with one another. it's a very odd relationship and appears to be skewed in terms of their role play, but uh the clues e-- but the clues emerge through the action of the text and we discover that she has reasons for behaving how she does. >> torvald? has been working for not much money. when the play starts, their lives are about to change. he's made manager of a savings bank, they're taking a step up the ladder. it's important for them, three children, a baby daughter and
two boys, so it's just about to start a great new chapter in their lives when we meet them. >> charlie: this is 1879. yes, just before christmas. looks as though it's set to be a wonderful time for them, unfortunately. doesn't play out that way. i mean, think about, in torvald's past, he had an illness, which we put as a kind of a breakdown which a man in that period wouldn't necessarily be able to admit to, not to the level we would. so we spent time in italy recovering. i understand that it was nora's father who lent us money to go there but it was necessary for my health. after what he sort of overcompensates as presenting himself as the best father, a strong man because he's afraid and anxious about falling short of those ideals. >> charlie: why is this called
"a doll's house"? >> nora comes to the realization at the end of the play, she sees her life for the first time, she describes the way her father treated her as a young girl and also the way her husband treats her like a doll. so an inanimate project you can project things on and play with but somebody who doesn't really have their own inner life. and the place actually takes place in an apartment as opposed to the house, the designer and director did the research. it's a home and it's a play about, you know, domestic environment, but she comes to realize that it's trapping her. >> charlie: she has a great secret. >> she has a great secret, yes, that she borrowed. she took out an illegal loan nine years previously and has been paying off the money
somehow through -- she has no income, she has no means of earning money, she's being paying off monthly -- quarterly installments through wheedling pocket money and gifts and streets. so the past nine years has been getting financial treats out of her husband. so it's pretty extreme. the play has a lot to say about money, i think. >> charlie: what does it say about money? >> well, it says, you know, it's only stupid. people have to live. >> charlie: yeah. so the character crak krogstadt has to work his way up and
become a money lender because of his children, his wife is starving and he has to provide for his kids. so there's a mrs. linde, kristine linde who is a childhood friend of nora's and she had to get married because her mother was sick and she had to provide for her brothers and she had been working and has to do it to keep going. and we have been trying to keep going and provide. now with this great job, looks athough, you know -- >> it feels like he chose to set the play at christmas at that very, very cold time of year very specifically. i mean, the characters you see, the difference between those who have money and those who don't and those who are clinging on to it with their fingertips. it's a play, in many respects, about the things -- the effect
that financial desperation has on your moral framework and the actions we all might be pushed to to find ourselves in a very desperate situation. >> charlie: for example, there are things he ignored. torvald things he and nora are doomed by these revelations? >> yes, but it's social enough. >> charlie: exactly. his public persona -- >> charlie: which he worked hard to create. >> worked hard to create and very anxious because of what happened in his past that they would be pariahs and they would be finished. >> charlie: nora says, you've always been so kind to me but our home has been nothing but a play room. i have been your doll wife just like at home i was papa's doll child and my children have been my dolls. i thought it great fun when you played with me and when i played with them. that is what our marriage has been. i would be horrified if she said
that to me, too. >> it gets worse as well. yeah. what's so interesting, i think, is that this is why ibsen's writing is end leslie rewarding to explore and i think it remains so pertinent and relevant to us now is that there are no -- it's not easy to put people in a box as to it was their fault or his or her fault or villain or hero. it's very messy and murky and what he writes and what i think we see in the way that this relationship is played out is that she's being just as complicit in that. and it's a dance that they play. and in many respects, who can blame him for failing to see her real self because she's being performing a version of herself for him in the same way she'll
perform another version of herself for someone else because it's the only power she has. >> she performed that dance called the tarrentella. >> that's the climactic point of the play where she's using whatever means she has. >> charlie: this is considered one of the great roles for women because there are so many facets of her own being. >> i think so. i think it's -- i've never come across a part, i think, where we literally have to see, for a women to see a character turn on a six pence. >> on a six pence. yeah, and -- >> charlie: turn on a dime. yeah, turn on a dime. it's a fascinating journey to inhabit because she remains on stage and different characters come in one after the other and we see her transform before our
eyes, thinking, who is this woman? why is she so manipulative and suddenly behaving like this and playing this game and, you know, one moment she's best friends with this person, the next minute she's doing her thing in public, and she's sort of a cocktail of psychological -- god, i don't know how to describe it -- but it's -- because she has no conventional power or legitimate power, the only means she has to control her life is through playing other people, and she's an expert. >> charlie: did you once say, if i meet her, i think i'd like to slap her because she behaves so badly. >> i mif might have said that. >> charlie: yeah. well, i think, in certain situations, if you've been performing the the part and doing the research, you start to understand why she behaves like
that. >> charlie: she wants to be heard. >> because she wants to be heard, because she desperately needs in that moment to win approval so that she can get the money to pay off the debt or whatever the reason is, or she's dreadfully insecure. but if you don't know that, you can think she's great fun, what a giggle. and the next thing, ooh -- and the games she plays with men, i would find in a 21st woman, unpalatable. >> when she's talking to her best friend, showing silk stockings, it's great. >> i admire her resourcefulness and her ability to -- >> charlie: you've heard what i said ben bradley said about going to the theater and how he felt. is that a reaction you find from
people who know you, who come to the theater and live this in. >> well, i bumped into a young lady early on in our stay in at&t. >> charlie: you were getting a phone? >> i didn't understand the system so i picked a number. neither did she. this woman came to help us and assumed we were a couple. and we got in this embarrassment. i mean, she was looking at me and i'm, like, what -- and she said, sorry if i'm staring at you. are you in "a doll's house"? i said, yes. i said, what did you think? she said, well, i didn't mow the play at all -- i didn't know the play at all and it shook me up a bit. i just got engaged. you do get -- couples sort of are looking at each other maybe a bit differently. >> charlie: yeah. because it does expose how
couples operate and the games they play and performances and if they have an agreement to doing that to each other, versions of each other, if that falls apart, what's left. so, you know, it does get -- we've had quite extreme reactions. i got booed. >> charlie: why did you get booed? about the character? >> oh, i hope (laughter) but booed and hissed, which was really quite strange. he said rather choice things, having behaved really rather badly and something that was his fault, forgives nora, and makes a comment about women. >> charlie: this can be a star-making performance for a woman. yes? >> yes. (laughter) >> charlie: had you wo two workd together before? >> yes. >> charlie: how many times? twice. we did a play reading, a
collection of stratford. we did the national, katy mitchell. i was her uncle. so go from uncle to husband. >> charlie: if you worked together before, does that make it easier of in terms of when you're in a "a doll's house," understanding and having a sense of each other? >> i think so. definitely there's a short hand in there. trust in one another. but i do remember just getting to play a nine-year marriage talks time and takes, you know, investigation into what -- how they relate to each other, what that body language is and trust. our director was saying early on, talking about the physical concept, he said you're quite collegiate. remember that? yeah, so -- >> charlie: take a look at this. this is a clip, carrie talking
about "a doll's house." here it is. >> and sometimes i walk into the dressing room. now she's played it maybe 150 times and she's still checking in with her intentions or rewording them, thinking, i didn't quite capture that today, what am i really trying to do to torvald there. so she's made a series of minute choices about what she's trying to do. so the price is really trying to unlock the subtextual world of the characters and then we combine that with lots of improvising in which we construct an imagined world for the characters. we improvise, you know, nora and torvald's relationship, how do they touch each other, how do they speak, how does she get money from him. we try and work out what normal is in this world of the characters so that we can make a kind of interesting version of an abnormal day which is the days we see them on. >> charlie: here's what's
interesting to me. everybody wants to read into this this is a feminist track and this and that, it's all about women's emancipation and all kind of theories about the play. ibsen himself said it was not about women's right but a description of humanity and a modern tragedy. >> yes, i feel both interpretations are valid. i can totally hear where ibsen is coming from and i feel the play has universal resonances to do with -- i mean, we've talked about money, but how to be honest to long-term partners. how dab -- you know, how to be true to yourself but also kind. you know, those are the difficult things about thousand to be a good person, but i don't think one can ignore the context in which the play was first put on and what it seems to have
meant to people over the years and the power of the gesture. >> charlie: was it received well at the time? i mean, the critical reviews -- >> it was received -- i mean, scandalously, as far as i can make out. i think it created a lot of furor around the marriage question. >> in the play -- the play's written in a front room. so millions of people left their house and were presented with their own living room and these actions infold in a conventional marriage. quite shocking behaviors. when it went to germany, the actress who was playing nora refused to play the ending. i would never leave my children. so ibsen, to his personal shame, had to rewrite the ending where torvald opened the nursery, showed nora the children and she
said, no, i won't! because she himself was very interested in money and wanted to get the receipts. they later put the original ending back but, yes, it was shocking. >> and i think it remains to be. marriage breakups are no longer such a to-do, but a woman leaving her children really makes people have very strong feels about it. >> sort of an unnatural act, sort of how could she. >> charlie: how could she. yeah. >> charlie: talk about acting for a second. what's the most influential -- who or what's had the most influence in terms of your understanding of what it means to be an actor? what experience, what person? was it school in was i? a director? a lover? >> for me, just personally, i never went to drama school, so i did university and went straight into it from there. for me, the first time i
worked -- we mentioned already with the british director katy mitchell, was very formative because it was the first time i'd worked with any kind of structured system and i just -- i sort of -- >> charlie: you thrived in that. >> yeah, i loved it and it blew my mind. but it was also an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. >> i mean, i worked with katy over a series of five productions that formulated and coacoalcoalesced certain things- >> charlie: like an architecture and you can approach a methodology to communicate who the character was. >> yes. there are exercises to help you investigate the truth of
what's happening on stage and have integrity to that and not get so distracted by the opportunities for, you know, love or whatever. >> but also for me, i suppose, family as well, because i'm the youngest of four by seven years, and just watching how my older siblings and my parents and extended family negotiated things in their lives and how that happened and sort of -- bad times, good times, all that sort of thing, and just seeing that, because i was the youngest, i could sort of see that and -- >> charlie: you had kind of an observational interest. >> yeah. they'd probably hate to hear that. ah-ha! you know -- >> charlie: yeah, right. but, you know, just seeing how different siblings operated in a different way with each other. you know, it's not -- personal identity isn't fixed. there's sort of a performative quality with each other. >> charlie: is the training
different in london than it is in new york? >> well, they take a lot more classes here and it's continuous, yeah. and it's supposed to be continuous. i've learned it now. keep going. >> i agree, yeah. i think it's great, really, really healthy. >> charlie: what sparked your interest first in theater? >> well, i'm very fortunate, my family are in the business, my father was a director, my mother an actress, so -- >> charlie: did they want you to or not want you to? >> they were pretty -- kept a respectful distance. they basically wanted me to be as prepared as i could and wanted me to be aware of the precariousness. >> charlie: did you ever think of anything other than acting? >> not seriously.
>> charlie: i can't imagine what that's like to know what you probably want to do so early in life. >> well, because i was exposed to it. >> charlie: i know, i know. and you? what brought you to the theater? >> well, i wanted to be a vet, then i wanted to be a fireman, then a pilot. i was watching a tv, probably top gun, and i wanted to play that. >> charlie: yeah. i was 15, doing twelfth night playing sr viola. obviously a woman's part. and the director said, do you want to be an actor? i said, i don't know. aren't they all unemployed? at the moment, there was plenty of unemployed everything. soy went okay, i wrote a letter to michael pettington and he wrote me back. >> charlie: and you said?
this is what i want to do, how do i go about it? he wrote a letter, return post, giving me at vice. >> charlie: what did he say? you could go to university, have that as a backup. here's drama school, here's how you get your union ticket. >> charlie: it's different but it's about writing, you know, how you learn to be a writer -- write. >> yeah. >> charlie: congratulations. thank you. >> charlie: as i've said, "a doll's house" is march 23. so time is coming to an end. you should be there soon. thanks for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications
>> the following kqed production was produced in high definition. [ ♪music ] >> yes, check, please! people. >> it's all about licking your plate. >> the food was just fabulous. >> i should be in psychoanalysis for the amount of money i spend in restaurants. >> i had a horrible experience. >> i don't even think we were in the same restaurant. >> leslie: and everybody, i'm sure, saved room for those desserts.