The Department of Theater and Dance is pleased to present the first installment of its Theatre Gallery project. It includes two productions put on entirely by students, a one-act play entitled The Stronger (Den Strakare in Swedish). The Stronger was written by Swedish playwright August Strindberg in 1890 and is now directed and translated by Junior Theatre and Scandinavian Studies Major Ethan Bjelland.
The play takes place in a café on Christmas Eve and centers on the relationship between two estranged actresses, Mrs. X and Ms. Y, portrayed by Sophomore Communication Studies Major Kelsey Francis and First-year student Kaitlin Dahlquist.
“I have studied Norwegian language and culture for years now, and have become very interested in that, but I never got as deep with my Swedish roots before I translated and began working on this piece,” Bjelland said. “I am most excited … because of the personalization the whole team has put into the show.”
The production is performed twice without intermission, once in Swedish and once in English. The show also features Victorian-style costumes done by Sophomore Jess Swanson and set design by Junior Geography Major Matt Claypool. “The color combinations and the way the room is transformed into something intimate really gives us an almost film-quality close-up of the space in which the action takes place” Bjelland said.
Senior Computer Science Major Patrick McDougle was responsible for the elaborate lighting design of the production and researched the lightbulbs of the era extensively to create a natural and realisic mood.
“The Swedish, the late 1800s era and the play are fascinating, and it really taps into the Swedish heritage of the college. It would be a short time students could take out of their day to support the theatre arts and enjoy themselves as well” Francis said.
“The actors were constantly working to make the characters and situations as real as possible, and every conversation that came out of that endeavor helped us learn more about each other and sparked thought about humanity and confrontation in general,” Bjelland said.
The show will be performed Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m., Nov. 20 at 5:00 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 1:00 p.m. It is also important to note that this play is in the Black Box, meaning there are only 50 seats available for each performance. Tickets are available online now and will be sold at the Black Box one hour before each showtime. General admission is $5; however, all Gustavus students and staff get in free of charge with an ID. In his director’s notes, Bjelland speaks to the viewer: “As judges of Strindberg’s women … I ask you to consider the actual interaction, the silence, the actions, the motivations, and hear the voice behind the text, rather than the text with a voice.”