6 TO 22, 2020
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY, 155 FIRST AVE.
AUGUST STRINDBERG'S "THE PELICAN" AND "ISLE OF
TRANSLATED AND DIRECTED BY ROBERT GREER
wrote "The Pelican" for his Intimate Theater in 1907
and penned "Isle of the Dead" (Toten-Insel)
immediately after as a prologue. The latter was unpublished until
1918 and rediscovered in the early 60s, when it was found and
dismissed as a fragment. The two plays were finallly reunited
by Ingmar Bergman as a radio play in 2003. This production is
the world premiere staging of the two works together, as they
were written and intended by their author.
go out to Magnus Florin, former chief dramaturg of the Royal Theater
in Stockholm (who produced Bergman's radio production). He tipped
off Robert Greer, director and translator of both plays, to the
opportunity in Strindberg's enormous oevre for this true
"Isle of the Dead," a middle-school teacher who has
died in his sleep wakes up to find an enlightened spirit sitting
next to him. This spirit tries without success to explain to the
teacher that he no longer need concern himself with such mundane
matters as grading papers before class. Finally, the spirit instructs
the benighted teacher to watch a play with him. The play is "
"The Pelican," a vivacious young widow has eyes for
her newly-married son-in-law. The moral turpitude of it is driving
her son to drink. Throughout her children's lives, the widow denied
them food and firewood, unwilling to "squander" money
that she is actually stealing for herself. The son finds a letter
from his late father recounting her cruelty -- how will he avenge
her betrayal? The play's title comes from an erroneous myth of
nature: the mother pelican feeds her chicks ground-up fish from
her beak, but in earlier times, this was thought to be her own
blood, making the bird a mistaken example of charity and sacrifice.
In a wicked note of irony, the mother was honored with verses
about the pelican's sacrifice at her daughter's wedding.
of "The Pelican" at The Intimate Theater