Posted in #Roundabout, adaptation, adoption, Andrew Orkin, based on a play, based on Chekhov, Chekhov, Chekhov interpretations, classic, Classic Stage Company, Conor McPherson, drama, dysfunction, Emerging Directors, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, Jeff Blumenkranz, love, love story, melancholy, Norwegian playwright, play, Shariffa Ali, Shariffa Chilemo Ali, storytelling, Strindberg, Strindberg adaptation, Victoria Clark, Yael Farber

Modernist Classics

Tony-winner Victoria Clark (for Light In The Piazza) was in the short-lived Broadway run of Gigi

Like our friends Chekhov and Ibsen, August Strindberg invites reinvention, interpretation and re-interpretation. Strindberg’s brooding psychological themes have not had as much stage time as those of his contemporary.**

Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg are modern playwrights, in the sense that Freud is modern. Our preception of the inner workings of the soul and its desires have all been clarified in their work.

We are introduced to characters, conflicts and situations which have us wondering what if? We search for their outcomes and new resolutions for them. Hence the tendency for contemporary writers to rephrase and update Ibsen, or Anton Chekhov or, now especially, August Strindberg.

In the upcoming Classic Stage Company double-bill in repertory, Conor McPerson and Yaël Farber rework two Strindberg pieces, Dance of Death and Miss Julie. This Strindberg celebration runs from January 15th through March 10th at the CSC’s theatre on East 13th Street.

Farber’s Mies Julie resets the play to the Karoo of South Africa, adding a new dimension to the social conflicts in the original. Mies Julie is directed by Shariffa Ali who brings enlightened and empassioned humanitarian activism into the play’s broader themes.

Victoria Clark is helming the production of McPherson’s interpretation of Dance of Death. You surely know her as a Broadway musical star, who won a Tony for her lead in The Light In the Piazza, and was a nominee for four of her other outings. Lately, Ms. Clark has been directing musicals and operas around the country. She brings her sense of the lyricism in words to Strindberg’s brutal vision of a marriage in decline.

** (Strindberg’s Miss Julie, for instance, was last seen at the Roundabout in 2007 with Jonny Miller and Sienna Miller, although an off-Broadway production of his lesser-known The Pelican was produced in 2016.)

Posted in friendship, Jon Fosse, Karen Allen, loss, love, melancholy, Norwegian playwright, rough waters, stylistic, tone-poem

Anxiety Looms On "A Summer Day"

Karen Allen, surrounded by memories, in “A Summer Day” at the Cherry Lane. Photo © Sandra Coudert

Angst, Scandanavian-style, made popular by Ingmar Bergman in our youth, and gently mocked by Woody Allen, is back in Jon Fosse’s “A Summer Day.”

“A Summer Day,” at the Cherry Lane Theatre, through November 25th, is getting its first-time premiere  in New York City in this affectionate production by  Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. 

“A Summer Day,”  takes anxiety and sadness to the brink. By an informal count, the words “anxious” and “sad” were celebrated more than a dozen times in the text of Jon Fosse’s play in director Sarah Cameron Sunde’s translation. 

Melancholia,  bolstered by boredom, looks to be a Norwegian pasttime, seconded only by going out onto rough waters.

Samantha Soule with McCaleb Burnett in “A Summer Day.” Photo © Sandra Coudert. 
Asle (McCaleb Burnett) likes it out there in his little boat. His wife (Karen Allen as Older Woman, and Samantha Soule as Younger Woman) finds it scary. As the play opens, the Older Woman stands at the window looking out at the pier. Her Older Friend (Pamela Shaw), visiting on this bright summer day, much as she had  on a much gloomier day years ago (Younger Friend, played by Maren Bush) when Asle went off to the water’s edge. Never to return.

Abandoned in her lovely house, the Older Woman lives a desolate life reminiscing about that day and watching the bay.

Much of the tension in “A Summer Day” comes from waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never doesAs Karen Allen’s character narrates the story, we bait our breath for something unexpected to happen.

A long, somewhat tedious, yet oddly engrossing tone-poem of mourning and loss, “A Summer Day” is lovingly executed. 

For more information about “A Summer Day,” and a schedule of performance, please visit