Emory Report
September 14, 2009
Volume 62, Number 3


Buy all three ‘Miss Julie’ programs for
the price of two

Purchase tickets ($18; Emory faculty, staff, discount category members $14; Emory students $6) at:
404-727-5050, www.arts.emory.edu.

Performance schedule: www.arts.emory.edu/events.



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September 14, 2009
Three takes on a classic play

By Jessica Moore

Theater Emory takes on three simultaneous productions of August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” (Oct. 1-10) directed by theater faculty Donald McManus, Janice Akers and Michael Evenden. Each version sheds new light on the Swedish playwright’s 1888 classic that deals with power, lust, class, flirtation, aristocracy and the battle of the sexes.

The directors describe how the elements of Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” shaped their direction of the play:

Donald McManus
“‘Miss Julie’ helped define modern theater. I wanted to present its legacy from a contemporary point of view. Strindberg included an ensemble of farm workers who enter and perform a dance at one point in the play. I decided to amplify this aspect of the original text and use it as a framing device. The ensemble is extremely active in my version and actually presents text from Strindberg’s published preface during the play. I chose the most controversial paragraphs from the preface and juxtaposed them with popular music and film footage from classic movies as counterpoint to the central action.”

Janice Akers
“In my version the characters exist in a kind of fairy tale. Set designer Sara Ward has created a world that is idyllic and hellish, magical and starkly real. We will approach the production with the eyes and ears of Strindberg. The acting style will try to capture the outrageous contradictions that made Strindberg’s life so emotionally violent. He was subject to shocking highs and lows; passionate love letters gave way to brutal rants against women; he saw himself as both aristocrat and working class; he lived in a world both grittily real and haunted by hallucinations. Virtually nothing about Strindberg was moderate.”

Michael Evenden
“Strindberg’s innovation in ‘Miss Julie’ was re-imagining human characters as the products of so many influences that the conventional drama of his century had ignored. Suddenly we see characters pulled, pushed and propelled by the psychological impacts of a class-defined upbringing, childhood trauma, the imposition of gender roles, and the way nature itself impels choices that redirect lives. This production will explore the shock of naturalism — where the most unpoetic daily activities (cooking, eating, drinking, shaving, dressing), carefully enacted, open a world in which the darkest psychological realities can break onto the stage, violently and uncompromisingly true.”