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Strindberg - Other Sides

Seven Plays- Translated and introduced by Joe Martin- with a Foreword by Björn Meidal

Joseph Martin

Strindberg - Other Sides: Seven Plays presents fresh translations based upon the new national Swedish edition of Strindberg's works, hewing close to Strindberg's techniques of «scoring» his scripts for actors and directors. The plays are illuminated in introductory essays revaluating Strindberg's role in transforming theatre (and art) with his extraordinary new forms. The Ghost Sonata is a keystone in the construction of the expressionist theatre; in The Pelican Strindberg goes «over the top» with his own form of psychological drama until it soars beyond the realm of realism; The Dance of Death is a battle of the sexes rendered absurd, as a series of games played against the void; and Carl XII is an epic play portraying the last months of the king who brought Sweden's history as a great power to an end. Three one-acts from the late 1880s foreshadow the striking ambiguity of Strindberg's later works.

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Three One-Acts: Introduction 295

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THREE ONE-ACTS The Stronger Pariah Simoom This page intentionally left blank THREE ONE-ACTS: INTRODUCTION 1. STRINDBERG'S remarkable formal experimentation at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the Weltanschauung that went with it, certainly did not emerge completely out of the blue after his Inferno experiences. Even in the midst of Strindberg's famous naturalistic period his plays betrayed peculiar atmosphere. There was an element of the mysterious-though not mystic-and inexplicable in some of them. Most significantly: silences, in some of those plays, are a potent dramatic device. Between 1888 and 1892 Strindberg wrote nine one-act plays.1 The entire cluster represents an attempt to apply his new theoretical approach to the drama which are outlined in his article "On Modern Drama and Modern Theatre"2 He was particularly influenced by the work which had just begun at Andre Antoine's Theatre Libre in Paris, where the focus was on psychological action rather than on plot. Strindberg's own work would later provide the Theatre Libre and the French naturalists with material for some of their vanguard produc- tions. Antoine's theatre was at that time encouraging the writing of extremely short pieces, notably the quart d'heure, or fifteen-minute play. The first three one-acts in the cycle were written in Holte, Denmark between December 1888 and March 4, 1889. They belong together not only because they were created during the same short period and exemplified Strindberg's new ideas on the drama-but the three plays were also written to help launch his Scandinavian Experimental in Denmark....

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