History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Scandinavian Pre-WWII
In addition to plays mentioned in the 19th century, major Strindberg plays in the 20th century include "Påsk" (Easter, 1901), "Dödsdansen" (The dance of death, parts 1 and 2, 1905), and "Spöksonaten" (The ghost sonata, 1908). Representing Danish drama, Kjeld Abell (1901-1961) wrote "Melodien der blev væk" (The melody that got lost, 1935). Representing Norwegian drama, Hans Wiers-Jenssen (1866-1925) wrote "Anne Pedersdotter" (1908).
"Easter". Time: 1900s. Place: Sweden.
"Easter" text at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/8500
Elis and Kristina intend to marry in the fall and are looking forward to summer after passing through a rough winter. One year has passed since his father was imprisoned for debt, the principal creditor being Lindkvist. Soon after, his sister, Eleonora, went mad and was sent to an asylum. On Maundy Thursday, Kristina is surprised on learning Elis wants to attend a dinner given by the ungrateful Peter, his student, who stole some of his ideas while writing a doctoral thesis. They receive an anonymous package containing a birch rod, which Elis places in water. The grief-stricken Benjamin, a pupil living in his house, tells them he failed his Latin examination. Looking out the window, Elis notices Lindkvist, who may decide to take away their furniture, but he merely nods, smiles, and passes by. Left alone, Benjamin is surprised to see a stranger enter: Eleonora, escaped from the asylum to join her family. She tells Benjamin she embezzled funds and her father took the blame. She specifies she suffers for him and all her family. "Will you be one of my flock, so that I can suffer for you, too?" she asks. She hears the telephone wires hum, caused by the cruel words people say to each other. She also tells him she entered a florist's shop and took away an Easter lily, placing it on the table. Elis learns his father's case has been sent to the court of appeals, so that he must read the court transcripts to find a loophole in the procedure. He notices the Easter lily. "Poor Eleonora," he exclaims, "So unhappy herself yet bringing joy to others!" On Good Friday, Elis is unable to find any loophole. He and Kristana find comfort in looking at Benjamin and Eleonora sympathetize so much, pushing the lamp towards each other so that they can read better. Mrs Heyst, Elis' mother, tells them Lindkvist may come over, which worries them. She also tells them a burglary was committed at a florist's shop, concerning a tulip, she thinks. They anxiously behold Lindkvist's shadow on the curtains, enlarging to a giant-like size, but he goes away. "Think of it as a trial, Elis," advises Kristina. When the rest go, Benjamin suggests to Eleonora to call the florist' shop and explain the mistake, but she answers: "No, I have commmited a wrong and I must be punished by my conscience...Everyone must suffer on Good Friday, to be reminded of Christ's suffering on the cross" On Easter eve, Elis worries Kristina has left him. He learns from his mother that the Easter lily was stolen, at which Benjamin blames himself, until corrected by Eleanor. Then Mrs Heyst says she spoke to the florist, who finally found Eleanor's coin. Lindkvist finally arrives. Elis proudly declares: "I ask neither charity not favors, only justice." Lindkvist accedes to this point of view, demanding him to pay back all that he owes and warning him that, unless he begs the governor's help, he will arrange to have his mother arraigned, too. Elis is forced to accept. Lindkvist next informs him he must thank Peter for interceding on his mother's behalf to the governor, which he refuses. To "squeeze his pride", Lindkvist next demands the crushed man to empty his entire bank account for his sake. But then the apparent monster reveals he once knew a man who long ago saved him from prison, when he was falsely blamed for breaking a window-pane: his father, and so he cancels all his claims. A stunned Elis watches Eleanora tear the leaves out of the calendar, exclaiming: "April, May, June, and the sun shining on them all!" while Kristina walks back in.
"The dance of death, part 1"
"The dance of death, part 1". Time: 1900s. Place: Sweden.
""The dance of death, part 1" text at http://www.onread.com/book/Plays-by-August-Strindberg-The-dream-play-The-link-The-dance-of-death-part-I-The-dance-of-death-part-II-768136/
In a fortress tower of a military camp, Edgar and Alice are near their silver wedding anniversary. Because of her coldness and brusque manner, a servant, Jenny, leaves them. Instead of supplying his usual remark to her usual remark, Edgar yawns. "What else is there for me to do?" he asks. Another servant, Kristin, may follow the other one. "So now I am the domestic again," declares Alice, upset. They greet Kurt, her cousin, and the new master of the quarantine station. Edgar and Alice agree on one point: they do not like anyone on the island, the captain specifying: "I have had nothing but enemies all my life, and instead of being a hindrance, they have been a help to me." Suddenly, Edgar becomes motionless, the victim of a stroke, but nevertheless goes out to inspect the guard. Alice tells Kurt he incited their children against him, and so did she. She bemoans the state of her hands, because of domestic duties, resenting having lost a career as an actress following her marriage. Edgar returns but almost as soon collapses in another stroke. When learning he is still alive, Alice sighs. When learning Kristin is truly gone, she sobs. They learn by telegraph that none of the doctors can come. "That's what you get for treating your doctors so contemptuously and always ignoring their bills," she declares, which he denies. While the captain stares emptily into space, Kurt tells Alice a doctor said he may die at any moment without warning, which she is glad of. But, after a night of rest, he recovers. Alice tells Kurt that it is thanks to Edgar his wife obtained custody of his children. According to Alice, it is his vampire nature that expresses itself when he tells Kurt his son, a cadet officer, will be transferred to the island, which Kurt disapproves of. He next tears up his will in her favor and declares he has filed for divorce. Alice is glad and accuses him of trying to drown her once, "without witnesses", the captain notes, though their daughter, Judith, was present, whom "you have taught to lie," accuses Alice, to which he remarks: "I didn't have to." Being free at last, Alice flirts with her cousin, who playfully bites her neck. Afer he rises his hand to her, she forces him to kiss her shoe. They discover he heard no word about Kurt's son transfer and never filed for divorce. Alice is ready to follow Kurt, but he pushes her away. They both beg him to stay, the captain with one philosophy sustaining him: "Erase, and keep going."
"The dance of death, part 2"
"The dance of death, part 2". Time: 1900s. Place: Sweden.
"The dance of death, part 2" text at http://www.onread.com/book/Plays-by-August-Strindberg-The-dream-play-The-link-The-dance-of-death-part-I-The-dance-of-death-part-II-768136/
Kurt has noticed that some of his supposed friends have grown colder, a sign, according to Alice, that Edgar has been stealing them from him. Edgar accuses Kurt of being ungrateful concerning his 6% return on an investment in a soda water company thanks to his advice. Alice sees Kurt's son, Allan, a cadet officer, in tears, tormented by her daughter, Judith. Alice advises Allan to compare notes on her with his rival, a lieutenant, because her real object, to his astonishment, is the colonel, a sixty-year old man. Edgar informs Kurt the soda water company is out of business. Without informing his wife's cousin, Edgar sold his stock before the crash, but Edgar has lost his savings and is forced to sell his house and furniture. Edgar advises him to send his son away to a cheaper school, since he, too, wishes Judith to marry the colonel. Moreover, he takes over Kurt's house and furnishings and tells Allan he is transferred to another training course. When Allan discloses to Judith he will be away for a year, she says she will wait for him. Edgar informs Kurt about the transfer, paid for by a group of military men. Kurt is crushed, for this amounts to charity, which ends his hopes of being elected in Parliament. Edgar is surprised Kurt ever considered this, especially when considering he intends to run for the same office. "This indicates that you underrate me," accuses Edgar. Has he anything to reproach him with? No. "You say this," comments Edgar, "with a resignation I should like to call cynical." But his plan concerning Judith is thwarted, as he learns from a telegram from the colonel, who has ben insulted by her. Edgar suffers another stroke, crying out to Kurt: "Look after my children," who comments: "This is precious. He wants me to look after his children after stealing mine." Alice gloats over her husband: "Where is that strength of yours- your own strength- now?" He spits on her face. She slaps him and pulls his beard. Kurt and the lieutenant carry him to his bed. The latter then reveals to Alice that her husband is dead. She comments: "I have a feeling my own life is now at an end, that I'm on the road to decay and dissolution."
"The ghost sonata"
"The ghost sonata". Time: 1900s. Place: Sweden.
"The ghost sonata" text at http://www.archive.org/details/playcriticalanth00bent
Arkenholz, a student, wanders in a street. He has been up all night to help save people from a fire. Because his eyes are burning and his hands are possibly infected, he asks a milkmaid to put a damp cloth on them. Director Hummel, an old rich man in a wheelchair, asks Arkenholz to whom he has been speaking and is startled on hearing of the milkmaid's existence, whom he does not see, a woman he once had relations with and then abandoned. They discover that Hummel knew Arkenholz' father. According to this man, Hummel cheated him in business dealings, a version Hummel denies, saying on the contrary he helped him so well that the father grew to dislike his benefactor. To help Arkenholz, Hummel proposes to give him a ticket at the opera, where he may meet influential people, notably the colonel and his daughter. Arkenholz agrees. He tells one story of the fire, in which he saved a child from burning, but when he was about to take hold of him, the child disappeared. As they speak, a dead consul in his shroud appears in the doorway of a house, and then goes away, seen once again by Arkenholz but not by Hummel. In the colonel's apartment, Bengtsson, the colonel's servant, describes to Johansson, servant to Hummel, the forthcoming evening as a "supper of specters", the colonel either speaking alone or the others speaking always about the same things. He shows Johansson the colonel's wife, Amalia, surnamed the mummy, demented, it appears, as she is living in a wardrobe and imitates a parrot's voice. Hummel is startled to see her, with whom he had adulterous relations, he being the secret father of her daughter. For unkown reasons relating to an unhappy marriage, Amalia is only pretending to be demented. Hummel confronts the colonel by telling him he has bought the bills of all his debts. He also reveals to him that his aristocratic title is false and that his daughter is his. He wants the colonel to turn out Bengtsson. Hummel's intention is to reveal the crimes of others. But the mummy reveals Hummel's crimes, calling him a "man-robber", how he cheated her with false promises, hounded the consul to death with debts, manipulated Arkenholz under the pretense that his father owed him money, and cheated Bengtsson, living off him for two years. Assailed thus, Hummel turns or pretends to turn into a parrot in her place. After Hummel's funeral, Arkenholz and the colonel's daughter discuss the affairs of the house. She reveals her servitude to her own servants, how the cook sucks the marrow of the food she prepares, how she is forced to do the work her housemaid refuses to do. When Arkenholz wishes to take her away from the house, he recognizes its futility, saying that she is "struck at the very source of life". As if her body agrees with him, she sickens and appears to be dying. Suddenly, the room disappears and Böcklin's picture of the "Isle of the dead" appears.
"Anne Pedersdotter". Time: 1570s. Place: Bergen, Norway.
"Anne Pedersdotter" text at http://archive.org/details/annepedersdotter00wieriala
The town council sends guards to arrest a presumed witch, Herlofs-Marte. She escapes to the house of Absalon Beyer, rector and castle chaplain. She begs his wife, Anne, to hide her. Anne reluctantly agrees. Absalon's son from his first wife, Martin, arrives from Denmark and Germany after receiving a master's degree in theology. He sympathizes with his stepmother, almost the same age as he is, Absalon having been Anne's father's great friend. "I'll lighten your path all I can," Martin promises. The guards trace the accused witch to his house soon after Absalon's arrival. Though Anne denies having seen Herlofs-Marte, the guards search the house and find her in the loft. She is quickly burnt alive as a witch. Laurentius, a fellow minister, blames Absalon for failing to torture her so that she could name her accomplices. To Anne and Martin, Absalon confesses he has been harboring a guilty conscience for many years, because Herlofs-Marte and Anne's mother had been living as two widows and confessed to him they had "kept themselves by Satan's help". He had not denounced them because of his love for Anne. Alone with her husband Anne takes him in her arms, but the old man cannot respond. Instead, she looks towards her stepson and they develop a mutual passion for each other. Absalon's mother, Merete, notices how close they are to each other and does her best in preventing them to remain alone together. "Martin, you ought to be looking out for a good wife. You're at an age when it isn't good for a man to be alone. A good wife, and children. The marriage state is well pleasing both to God and man. Marriage drives out Satan, and keeps a man's heart at home," she advises. While Anne does not want to think of the future, Martin is tormented by it. "Some day our sin will burst out and cry to Heaven," he warns. "If I could burn you in such a flame of passion that you would be blind and forget- forget all, except that we belonged to each other, body and soul, blood and mind!" Alone with his wife, Absalon feels discouraged by his thankless tasks and thinks his lack of passion has done his wife great harm. After his mentioning that he heard her and Martin laugh together, she admits the truth of this. "You robbed me of joy...To wither away, to dry-rot: that was the fate you marked out for me. I have wished you dead and I've wished it most since your son has come home." After admitting she and her son have lain like lovers, he has a heart attack and dies. "You've murdered him, Anne Pedersdotter," Merete sputters, "for you....and he...you two..." After his father's death, Martin finds in himself only terror and remorse. He wonders whether Anne is like Herlofs-Marte, with the power to kill him. "I shall be burnt if you fail me, Martin," she cries out in terror. During the funeral, Merete accuses Anne of murder and witchcraft. Although Martin starts to defend her, he wonders again to Anne's despair about the matter of witchcraft. When the bishop asks Anne to touch her dead husband as proof of guilt or innocence, she confesses herself guilty of both accusations.
"The melody that got lost"
"The melody that got lost". Time: Place: .
"The melody that got lost" text at ?