Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Strindberg's centenary

With Strindberg's centenary coming up in 2012 Sweden and U.S.A are preparing to celebrate in grand style. The Swedish theatres are pulling out all the plugs and producing a number of plays which have not seen the light of day for ages. How pleased August would have been if he knew.
In 1911 his Intimate Theatre had just closed after three years' of existence. He had fallen out of favour yet again and was busy fighting the state and the world in the press like a latter-day Don Quixote. His last play, The Great Highway (1909) had not been a success. The Nobel Prize had gone to Selma Lagerlöf in 1909 so he realised that he was never going receive that ultimate accolade.
However, the amazing demonstration of love and support that he enjoyed on his last birthday in January 1912 must have gone some way towards comforting him.
The young and the poor were on his side, as were the members of the Socialist party, and a huge crowd gathered outside the building where he lived, on his last birthday in January 1912.
The fascinating thing about Strindberg is that he never ceases to upset. There is nothing cosy about him. You read him and the blood pressure rises. There is so much energy in his writing, so much passion in what he writes that you can't help getting sucked in and forced to take a stand.
He leaves no one unmoved. His language gives off sparks and there is an unstoppable rhythm about his dramatic dialogue.