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Play Reading

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Miss Julie by August Strindberg

Facilitators: Mike Ingham and Julian Quail

'Miss Julie' is Swedish dramatist August Strindberg's most famous and frequently produced play. Written in 1888 in its own time it was seen as scandalous by contemporary audiences, and was a highly controversial event in the history of modern drama. The original language of the play is Swedish but it has been translated into many languages and is one of the milestones of western naturalistic drama. The controversy was heightened by Strindberg's powerful preface to the play.

Set on the significant festival for Scandinavia of Midsummer Eve in the manor house of a wealthy aristocratic family the play presents the steamy relationship that develops between the bored daughter of the family, Julie, and her father's valet, Jean. The latter is a working-class boy who is self-educated, cultivated and intelligent, having seen quite a bit of the world.  The sheltered, and repressed Julie, in spite of her social superiority, is sexually attracted to her social inferior in spite of her upbringing. The evening's encounter begins with a series of games, as the unlikely couple talk freely, dance and flirt,  but as their whirlwind affair is consummated it rapidly develops into something more serious and dangerous for both of the protagonists. The main theme and dramatic heart of the play concerns the power struggle that we witness between the two main characters which illustrates not only the battle of the sexes in a deeply sexist social context but also the conflict between social classes, in which more ambitious and intelligent members of the lower classes were challenging the traditional rights and assumptions of a repressive and decaying aristocracy in Europe.

The play has been adapted into many various international contemporary contexts, most recently China, Russia,South Africa, England and Scotland, by a range of noted present-day dramatists and filmmakers. South African director Yael Farber's new version premiered in Cape Town in 2012 and will feature in the upcoming Hong Kong Arts Festival in late February. There will also be a new film version of the play released in 2014, directed by iconic Swedish actress/director Liv Ullman, proving that the Strindberg's drama continues to be considered relevant to contemporary discourse on sexual and social class politics.

 

2014年1月20日(一) << 19:15

 

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