Ruth Butaumocho Entertainment Editor
Two of August Strindberg plays were premiered to critical acclaim in Harare on Monday night at a launch that was attended by several theatre enthusiasts. Because of time constraints, theatre
enthusiasts were treated to excerpts of the plays, “The Father” and “Miss Julie”.
Strindberg is a Swedish playwright, novelist and short-story writer, who combined in his works psychology, naturalism, and later elements of new literary forms.
A Shakespeare of the Scandinavian literature, Strindberg wrote on the role of women in society, something that probably could have been inspired by his love-hate relationship with women, which culminated in three failed marriages
The two plays were done by Global Arts and Complete Arts Projects with support from the Culture Fund and the Swedish Embassy as part of the commemorations being held worldwide to commemorate the life of the legendary artiste, who died in 1912.
Speaking at the official launch, Swedish envoy to Zimbabwe Ambassador Anders Lidén said his embassy saw it fit to assist in the production of the plays as a way of enhancing cultural ties between the two countries.
“For many years, my country Sweden has been involved in supporting the cultural sector in Zimbabwe.
‘For the last few years, we have done so by setting up the Culture Fund for which we are the main sponsors.
“It has been a pleasure working closely with the Fund to support various cultural events and activities in this country. We also appreciate the Fund’s support to the culture of indigenous minority groups, for example the Tonga culture,” he said.
He, however, said contrary to widely held beliefs, the Culture Fund was not established to promote Swedish culture but that of Zimbabwe, something that the Fund has consistently done over the years.
“With August Strindberg commemorations, we have found an opportunity to combine the two in a meeting between Swedish and Zimbabwean art.
“In this case, as we celebrate our internationally best known literary personality August Strindberg — the Shakespeare of Sweden — as someone I met here in Harare referred to him — we found a link between him and the active and vibrant theatre community in Harare,” the ambassador said.
One of the directors and producers of two plays, Peter Churu, said he was humbled by the turnout, despite the last-minute change of venue.
“I am gratified to note that theatre enthusiasts have been very supportive of our work, which has been growing by the day from the time we made a decision to seriously get involved in theatre,” he said.
There are plans to take “Miss Julie” and “My Father”, on national and regional tours to celebrate the artiste’s life. The plays will run for a week at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale from June 17-23.
“Miss Julie”, a one-act tragedy, is no doubt a brutally frank portrayal of the most intimate thoughts of man and of the age-long antagonism between classes.
Strindberg, himself the result of the class conflict between his parents, never felt at home with either of them.
All his life he was galled by the irreconcilability of the classes; and though he was no sermoniser in the sense of offering a definite panacea for individual or social ills, yet with master touch he painted the degrading effects of class distinction and its tragic antagonisms.