On the occasion of the 150th anniversary since the birth of August Strindberg
O CRUX, AVE SPES UNICA, says a black wooden cross in the Stockholm cemetery, as if sending a massage to the Macedonian actors: “Play me, or an apocalypse will come to you!” With or without response, in the last year of this millennium, which drags as well the burden of three nines, in absence of a concrete actor’s impulse, it is fair, albeit symbolically, to mark the 150th anniversary since the birth of the creator of the modern drama, August Strindberg (1849 – 1912), the introducer of the inferno motif in the world theater.
What is, anyway, the road of Strindberg’s arrival on the Macedonian professional scenes? It is a bending, disorienting and often impassable road. As a remainder: the first Macedonian premiere of a drama by Strindberg is “Father” (1887) performed by the City theater from Bitola in 1924, and the same drama was played by the National theater – Stip in 1963 directed by Ilija Arev, the National theater – Prilep in 1966, directed by Blagoja Danevski and Drama theater – Skopje in 1989, directed by Todorka Kondova with Mite Grozdanov in the leading role. This last version insisted on strictly respecting the verbal segments, with a particular accent on the given scenic atmosphere. “The Dance of Death” (1900/01) has been played only in the Drama theater – Skopje in 1940, and “The Ghost Sonata” in the Macedonian National Theater – Skopje in 1992 directed by Stojan Stojanoski. In “The Sonata..” the visual-dancing component of the performance was especially emphasized, and the role of The Student was played by Nikola Ristanovski. “Miss Jullie” (1888) was realized as an exam performance by the Faculty for drama arts – Skopje, in 1992/93, played by the actors: Suzana Kirandziska as Jullie, Vladimir Jachev as Jean and Maja Veljkovikj as Kristina. A rear example of complete shaping of the characters was achieved by the actors in this performance, which is a relevant achievement, given the precise and extraordinary coordinates for the characters set up by Strindberg. At the end of this century, the excessive temperatures, the earthquakes, the kitsch – wars and the terminal diseases have almost the same weight as the mysticism of the everyday life, the bizarrerie of some male – female relations, the marriage, the jealousy and the envy, dissected through the intimist discourse of the great Danish, Strindberg, whose artistic acme was manifested in the beginning of this century. All these tendencies lead to undermining of the family cell and along with it of the society. The drama’s inferno, on a small or a big scale is de facto only an inferno. Regardless of whether it is a beginning or an end of the century. Born in Europe, the matrix of the cultural civilizations, Strindberg and Henric Ibzen became a synonym for the Scandinavian drama, which was an example for preserving and nurturing the national spirit in the dramatics. From the directing point of view Ingmar Bergman could also be included, who triumphantly participated in BITEF ’86 with his famous version of “Miss Jullie” performed by Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern from Stockholm.
In his dramatic opus Strindberg achieves a special progress in the definition of the character, the conflict and composition as well as in the cubist treatment of the space and time. In the last years of his life he stopped seeing theatrical performances, but instead he became very interested in movies. In that time he could only see mute movies and was able to witness the black and white production on the screen of “Miss Jullie” and “Father”. It is left for discussion: how could Strindberg have been functioning without his succulent dialogue?!
“The Road To Damask” (1898-1904) perhaps one of the most complex and most wondrous dramas in the drama and theater history along with some other dramas important for the Strindberg’s poetics, unfortunately has still remained unperformed in Macedonia, and it’s the very one reflecting all the conceptual and technical orientations of the author. During the period of the production of this crucial drama of his, regarding the revolutianary in the technique of a drama, the theatrical company of Vojdan Cernodrinski is diligently cruising the Balkan, and the English Company “Charles Urban” under the motto nature of the stage, is filming documentaries on the turmoil in Macedonia and projecting them across Western Europe. Definitely, the connection of Strindberg to Macedonia is not only the naturalism, but also the resistance to the old rules and norms of a dramatic acting.
We are at the beginning of a new season, and taking into consideration the repertoire plan for this year none of the producers has initiated the proposition for putting on the Macedonian theatrical stage at least one drama by Strindberg. The world art production is our heritage as well and the affirmation of our domestic drama means finding our place in the world treasure, but is the choosing at any cost of “half” dramatic texts by autodidacts the only prerequisite for that? The road for stage rereading of the “foreign” drama classicists, as Strindberg, should not be sought in some special interest or some calculating manipulation, but in the necessity for thinking about the theater in its global sense. In that way perhaps would be achieved the indispensable communicative balance in the relation Macedonia – The world and vice verse, and at the same time the truly worthy Macedonian dramas would be much more recognized, in demand and appreciated out of its borders. Even at the expense of escaping the local valorization which from day to day lucidly erodes the Macedonian institutional theater.
Translated by: Katarina Cipuševa