Whenever anyone describes anything as "surreal", I think of August Strindberg. Known by many as the father of modern Swedish literature, he is one of the original art-farting weirdos. Amongst other writing accomplishments, Strindberg's career spanned over four decades during which he wrote nearly sixty plays. He wrote about everything. And everything was weird. Impressionistic, surrealist, weird. Ahead of his time, we're celebrating him as today's Playwright of the Day in particular honour of the 1889 world debut of his show Hemsoborna.
You may know Strindberg from his most famous play Miss Julie (1888) or perhaps for his even more radical Dream Play (1902) but, in honour of its anniversary, let's talk for a second about Hemsoborna (1889) a play which, though I only really understand it superficially, is interesting both for its narrative and for its theatrical format. The play is an adaptation of Strinberg's original novel and in follows the lascivious ongoings of a couple whose marriage is less than perfect. Let's leave it at that. No spoilers but they do have sex beside a church so...what? Again, ahead of his time (Remember, it's 1889), Strindberg tells the story with absolutely no interest in narrative structure. In true impressionistic form, Strinberg throws caution to the winds of his character's emotional journeys and leads us everywhere. Don't expect to know where you are or what is happening.
As a true testament to his wacky "what-is-happening"-ness, Strinberg's plays weren't always well received. Though the drama of his plays was naturalistic, he rejected, adamantly, all naturalistic form. He was a major contestant against all things hyper-real and he, very rightly and quite thankfully, changed our acceptance of new theatre forms forever. For his fearlessness and maybe even his arrogance, Strindberg is today's Playwright of the Day.
Special shout out to all of our art-farting friends at the Toronto Festival of Clowns right now Adam Lazarus, Butt Kapinski, Jon Lalchlan Stewart, Ben Wheelwright, Two Man No Show and so many more!