Miss Julie and The Stronger
In Miss Julie, the landowner's daughter Julie finds a fatal attraction in her father's servant Jean. Jean is ready and waiting-until he and Julie face a deadly decision.
In The Stronger, two women meet. One does all the talking-the other does all the listening-we discover that the husband of the one is the lover of the other. Who will be the stronger?
The human soul, tortured by fears and desires that conflict both with themselves and with each other, and which the soul cannot resolve--that is Strindberg's metier, the locale in which he is absolutely unrivalled as a playwright and poet of all that is dark in the human being. In Miss Julie, he brilliantly concentrated his dark vision into a microcosmic sexual encounter between a young woman of minor nobility and a young man who is a servant of the family. His need to rise, and yet to bow, colllides with her need to fall, and yet to command, in the heady atmosphere of Swedish Midsummer Eve, an encounter that leads with cunning inevitablity to her death.
This text is an adaptation, not a translation. Indeed, it is the most radical of the adaptations presented here. I believe that treating this play as Strindberg conceived it, as an exemplar of naturalism conceived as a mechanical reproduction of superficial reality, does his own work a profound disservice. Naturalism is not the cutting-edge esthetic as it was in his time; it is the esthetic the theater must now outgrow and abandon. It is the profoundly emotional, psychologically surreal inner world of Jean and Julie and Kristin that makes this play the unforgettable work that it is. I have therefore eliminated or written around essentially all of the naturalistic mechanics of the play to concentrate entirely on the emotional realities, and I have done something that Strindberg would have done if he dared: The logic of Strindberg's action demands that we follow Jean and Julie into the bedroom, and explore what happens between them there. In 19th-century Sweden, he could not do that. In 21-st century America, we can. In a scene of my own composition, that is what I have done. That being said, I have also taken great care with the Swedish text. Except as necessary to carry out the goals of the adaptation, I have rendered Strindberg's text faithfully speech for speech and wherever possible phrase for phrase.