Short summary - Naturalistic drama - August Strindberg

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Naturalistic drama
August Strindberg

Strindberg tells the principles of writing the play "Miss Julie" by him. Explains what a "new drama" is and indicates what the stage should look like for staging new dramas.

The theater used to be the bible and the playwright the preacher. In the theater, you can understand what's going on without a puzzle. The theater is a public school. Now the theatrical crisis. In England and Germany, the drama is generally dead.

A new drama is being created. But part of the new is not yet clear to the majority, part is politicized, part cannot find a new form for new content. There is nothing new in Strindberg's drama, only a new form. The motive is outside of politics, from life. The spectacle of the death of a happy person and the extinction of the family always evokes feelings. Someday feelings will be harmful and superfluous. The man of the future will demand the elimination of evil. But Strindberg believes that the change of ups and downs is the highest joy in life. There is no need for the big ones to mathematically devour the small ones. Sometimes there must be a collapse of the big ones. Why farces, why joy? The joy of life is in the fierce struggle, in the possibility of experience. People, interpreting an event, select an explanation that suits them. Women interpret suicide as unhappy love, illness, etc., but the reason may be in everything or nothing. Yulia's fate has a number of undercurrents: improper upbringing, Midsummer Night, father's departure, menstruation, darkness, the smell of flowers, chance, etc. Strindberg believes that he is not a short-sighted psychologist, not a stupid physiologist, he is more modern and more complex.

Heroes are spineless, since character is the main dominant feature of the mental structure, an innate inclination. A hero with character does not grow, and the heroes of Strindberg are subject to the will of the waves. They are not always drunk or dull, they do not always have a red nose and a wooden leg. (So represent the characters in the spirit of Moliere). The naturalist rejects judgment in the categories of "stingy," "stupid," "rude." The naturalist knows that the other side of vice is virtue. Strindberg's souls are sewn from different patches, the strongest steal, and all the heroes borrow ideas from each other.

Julia is modern. She is a half-woman, as she is sold for power and orders, a degenerate breed, a tragic type. Julia is a victim of circumstances, a victim of the delusions of the century. The naturalist removes her guilt, but cannot remove the punishment for the deed. If her father had not avenged, Julia herself would have avenged herself.

Servant Jean is an aristocrat who despises his environment. He already has a gloss, but is still rough in body. He says what suits him. Jean is taller than Julia, the fact that he is a servant is an accident.

Christina is a stove slave who goes to church to atone for her thefts.

Secondary heroes are abstract because everyday people are abstract in their professional activities (in the craft they show themselves only from one side).

Strindberg breaks with the tradition of dialogues where questions are asked to get an abstract answer. He eschews symmetry and mathematics, as there is none in reality. Dialogues stumble like musical etudes.

Two main faces, one minor. The spirit of the father hovers over everything. Modern people want to see the mechanism, pictures are not enough for them.

The division into parts is destroyed, since during the intermission the audience eludes the author-hypnotist. The play lasts continuously for an hour and a half, like a lecture or a sermon. The public must be so educated as to sit out for an hour and a half, otherwise let them not come. And rest for actors and spectators is a monologue, pantomime, ballet. Strindberg's monologue transforms. He does not write dialogues, but gives general instructions on what to talk about, the actors are freed from the author's instructions and rest, improvising. Where the monologue is implausible - pantomime. And that's even more freedom. For the rest of the public - music and round dances of Ivan night.

The scenery is asymmetrical and taken from impressionist painting. When the viewer does not see the whole room, his imagination works. No cardboard doors, it's terrible when the door slams and the house shakes. There will be only one scenery (plausible!), down with decorative luxury. No painted utensils on the walls, so viewers will have to believe in too much other than painted pots. The back wall and the table will stand obliquely, leading into perspective. Remove ramp. Light from below makes faces appear fuller. Why is this? It distorts the appearance. At the ramp, you can’t speak with the audience with your eyes, except to look at it point-blank, and this is “hello to friends”.

Grim is a mask. The movements of the soul are reflected on the face, faces should be natural. Let there be side light and a minimum of white. Auditorium d.b. in complete darkness, you need to remove the orchestra from the field of view.

All this is necessary for the birth of a new drama.