FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL TO PRESENT
ROBERT GREER'S TRANSLATION OF STRINDBERG'S "THE FATHER"
AUGUST 25 TO SEPTEMBER 2, 2019
August 25 at 8:00 PM, August 27 at 9:00 PM, August 28 at 6:30
PM, August 31 at 5:00 PM, September 1 at 2:00 PM, September 2
at 9:00 PM.
Theater for the New City (Johnson Theater), 155 First Avenue
Presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic
Director) as part of the Dream Up Festival 2017
Box Office: (212) 254-1109, www.dreamupfestival.org
Running Time: 1:40.
as the Father, Bailey Newman as his daughter.
Photo by James Rucinski.
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.
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.
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
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.
plays the Captain, Natalie Menna plays the wife, Daniel Lugo plays
the Doctor, Bailey Newman plays the Daughter, Jo Vetter plays
the Captain's old Nurse, and Tyler Brown plays the Captain’s
rendition of this translation was presented last November by August
Strindberg Rep at Gene Frankel Theatre, in rotation with an evening
of three plays by Natalie Menna on the subjects of narcissism
and authority in relationships.