“Madman.” “The most influential writer of the modern theatre.” “Theatrical genius.” “Bad boy artist of the late 19th century.” To those familiar with August Strindberg, these are just some of the phrases that come to mind.
For the first time, Grenfell’s theatre program will present Strindberg’s personal favourite and most enigmatic play, A Dream Play, an adaptation by visiting professor Adam Nashman, March 5-8.
To those familiar with A Dream Play, certain other phrases come to mind: “The most rarely staged, most studied modern masterpiece of the world theatre.” “A crazy play without a plot.” “Undeniably fascinating.”
At its heart A Dream Play could not be simpler: the God Indra has a daughter who wishes to descend to earth and understand why humans are so miserable. And so, Indra’s Daughter descends to our world, and through a series of scenes experiences humanity in action. When she has seen enough she returns to the heavens.
Written just after Strindberg’s brush with insanity, the play is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Catholicism, both of which the author cited as returning him to some form of sanity. But more than anything, the play is influenced by the author’s desire to create a new form of theatre, a new structure if you will, one which would let the images and messages of the play wash over the audience as if witnessing a dream; hence the title of his play.
In the words of Strindberg: “The author has in this dream play sought to imitate the disjointed yet seemingly logical shape of a dream. Everything can happen, everything is possible and probable. Time and space do not exist; the imagination spins, weaving new patterns on a flimsy basis of reality: a mixture of memories, experiences, free associations, absurdities and improvisations. The characters split, double, multiply, evaporate, condense, dissolve and merge. But one consciousness rules them all: the dreamer’s; for him there are no secrets, no inconsistencies, no scruples and no laws. He does not judge or acquit, he merely relates; and, because a dream is usually painful rather than pleasant, a tone of melancholy and compassion for all living creatures permeates the rambling narrative.”
A Dream Play endeavours to bring its audience vivid images, and memorable moments worthy of Strindberg’s unleashed imagination with crisp acting, influences ranging from the Beatles to Bollywood, and original projections by Renate Pohl. We hope the audience relaxes into this dream world, and feels the author’s plea that people learn the importance of basic human kindness.
Three third-year students split the lead role of Indra’s Daughter; the remainder of the acting ensemble is comprised of the second-year acting students. Visiting professor Adam Nashman directs, and teams up with his “Midsummer Night’s Dream” designer Renate Pohl, who designs lights and projections. Costumes and props will be designed by roy Hansen-robitschek. The play runs March 5-8, 8 p.m., in the Fine Arts theatre. Tickets are available at the college bookstore or at the box office on the evening of each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. For further information please call 637-6223.