Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Miss Julie in the 21st Century

August Strindberg is acknowledged as one of the great innovators in all of theatre’s past. Miss Julie was not only a revelation but in some circles in its 1888 premiere—scandalous. Why? The reasons are many. Certainly, this unpredictable genius had a hunger to dig way below the surface of human experience. Not only did he wish to influence his audience, he was equally passionate about changing the landscape of theatre! Are we talking about yet another dazzling artistic wunderkind working to change the world? You bet. And he certainly did. You can read all about Strindberg and his work at

Why a modern adaptation? Why set it in the south? Well, our experiences are in a constant state of flux. Just consider how different your parent’s world is from your own. We can imagine the vast differences in perception and experience young characters such as Julie may possess in a context leaping over a hundred years.

Miss Julie in its debut was considered controversial, dangerous, edgy. It’s still a great, great play. But…what happens if we envision how our 21st century challenges might influence Strindberg’s rich, complex world? Is there potential to heighten even further our own culture’s questions embedded within the play? How closely can we define a world that will allow us to explore issues of privilege, gender, and social divisions, to name a few?

Why the deep south? Well, as the playwright/adaptor of Miss Julie, I’ve made my home in the south for over 17 years. I love the region and other than my native Central California, it’s the culture I know best. And certainly, our company of Theatre students bring rich southern-based experiences to our process. We hope however, that the play will connect with a diverse audience, at home and at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Theatre, at its best is always a high stakes experiment. We challenge ourselves in an effort to create a memorable—even magical—experience to share with our audience.

As we learn and grow together, we discover more as a learning community than is ever possible working solo. Shortly, you will hear from other members of our Production Team.

Alan Litsey, Professor of Theatre
Birmingham-Southern College

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