THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF A NEW TRANSLATION OF STRINDBERG'S "THE FATHER."
Strindberg's fin de siecle play resonates in the age of #MeToo.
NEW YORK, July 10 -- From August 25 to September 2, Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival will present the world premiere of a new translation by Robert Greer of August Strindberg's "The Father," directed by Mr. Greer and performed by an ensemble of actors from August Strindberg Rep, who developed the piece in a workshop production last November at Gene Frankel Theatre.
In this 1887 drama, a husband and wife struggle over who will control their daughter, with tragic consequences. Adolph is an army captain, a scientist and a "free thinker." He would have his daughter educated to be a teacher, while his wife, Laura, would have her become a painter. Adolph insists that the law supports him because a woman sells her rights when she agrees to be married. Laura responds with cunning and manipulation, casting doubts as to whether Adolph is actually the father of the girl and manipulating him into the irrational act of throwing a lamp at her. She also manipulates the town Pastor (who happens to be her stepbrother) and the newly arrived town Doctor for her purposes, using her erotic influence over the doctor and her readiness to claim that the family lawyer is her child's father to unseat her husband's presence of mind. This drives him into the arms of his old trusted nurse, who straitjackets him.
Conceived before Freud described the Oedipus Complex, the play offers a proto-Freudian explanation of the unreasonable hatred that can exist between husbands and wives. Another psychoanalytic interpretation of "The Father" is that Strindberg shows how love can turn to hate when a man seeking a mother-madonna finds in the sex act a mistress-whore. Strindberg's marriage to Siri von Essen was deteriorating at the time and situations in the play could have loosely recalled their marital strife.
Depending on the time of history, audiences tend to side with either the captain or his wife. The captain's insistence on "male perogatives" makes it sometimes seem that his wife's scheming brings him his just deserts. At other times, he seems a tragic victim of a diabolical female who, in the course of the play, is even told by the Pastor and the Doctor that she is a monster. Director/translator Robert Greer points out that one reason the play fell out of favor in the 1960s and 70s was that it was viewed as reactionary. Nowadays, audiences can't help switching sides back and forth in watching it.
Mr. Greer's translation does not steer us toward either conclusion; instead it finds hidden sexual meanings in the original Swedish dialogue (bowdlerized in many translations) that seem to drive the play. Much of it comes from the sexual electricity between the wife and the doctor. The translation doesn't resort to crude language, but it does convey some of the subtext that is near the surface. Meanwhile, deeper subtext is left in place for the actors to mine in their performances.
Brad Fryman plays the Captain, Natalie Menna plays the wife and Daniel Lugo plays the Doctor. Bailey Newman plays the Daughter, Jo Vetter plays the Captain's old Nurse and Tyler Joseph plays the Captain’s orderly. The actor playing the Pastor is TBA as of this writing.
A previous rendition of this translation was presented last November by August Strindberg Rep in rotation with an evening of three plays by Natalie Menna on the subjects of narcissism and authority in relationships. It was the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings and it was hoped that the two productions could reflect some of the sexual politics of our time and enlighten audiences on how we can have the venomous rise of Trumpism now.
Robert Greer (director, translator) is founding director of August Strindberg Rep, for which he has directed eleven Strindberg plays to-date. He has staged English-language premières of numerous contemporary Scandinavian playwrights, including Sweden's Marianne Goldman, Helena Sigander, Cecilia Sidenbladh, Oravsky and Larsen, Hans Hederberg, Margareta Garpe and Kristina Lugn; Denmark's Stig Dalager and Norway's Edvard Rønning. He has also directed classics by Victoria Benedictsson, Laura Kieler, Anne Charlotte Leffler and Amalie Skram. His productions have been presented at the Strindberg Museum and Strindberg Festival, Stockholm; Edinburgh and NY Fringe Festivals, Barnard College, Columbia University, Rutgers, UCLA; Miranda, Pulse and Theater Row Theaters, La MaMa, Manhattan Theatre Source, Tribeca Lab, Synchronicity, TSI, BargeMusic; and The Duplex in LA. He has also directed plays by Mario Fratti, Sartre and Corneille here in New York. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors' Equity; the Strindberg Society, the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study and Swedish Translators in North America.
THE DREAMUP FESTIVAL
The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.
In addition to traditional plays, a unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered, drawing upon a variety of performance genres including musicals and movement theater. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.
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Captioned, high-resolution photos of shows in this festival are available for download at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/8TM5hCWLmZbKzV4p9
The festival's website is www.dreamupfestival.org.