This year is the centennial of August Strindberg’s death, and to honor his legacy there are a number of Strindberg events going on. This past weekend Harvard hosted an August Strindberg Symposium and myself, Edmund, Britian, and Nick all attended. Events were going on from 9am to 7pm Friday and Saturday but what we attended was a lecture on the history of Strindberg in the American Theatre, a talk by the Artistic Director of The Intimate Theatre in Sweden (the theater Strindberg founded, this guy’s grandparents were friends of and in the founding ensemble with Strindberg, he had pictures of them with him, so cool), and finally watched table/scene work be done on various Strindberg pieces by Robert Brustein (founder of Yale Rep/ART) and David Krasner (Acting Professor at Emerson).
I was lucky enough get picked for the final question asked of Brustein; about balancing the naturalism in the action of Strindbergs texts with the expressionism of the imagery. We had a very cool little exchange about how Strindberg explodes out of his own style and although he defined himself as a naturalist he is most certainly not one. This idea with playing the boundaries and definitions of a style, or -isms, is now really on my mind as I prepare to go into rehearsal for my Thesis, Strindberg’s Creditors. I’m very interested in blurring the line of naturalism in the play, and I think the themes and imagery totally support that.
This is a small part of a larger whole, I’ve been obsessed with the practice of re-imagination of old work all year, because I think it has a large place in the future of theatre in this country. I love this article from the NY Times about Calixto Bieito and his work, Don’t focus on the orgies, he has vision. The central of idea of the article, to not dismiss him as a provocateur, is really important. Seeing past the radicalness of a re-imagination to the core of what it is saying as a new piece is essential to the development of this style of theatre. The greatest texts, Shakespeare, Strindberg, Ibsen, etc, lend themselves to this because they were at their time so epic and groundbreaking, they already exist on the edges of style.