Performing and Understanding Historic Drama: A Journey into the World of August Strindberg
Cameron, Matthew R.
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Upon returning home from my junior year abroad, I was abruptly confronted with the fact that I hadn't the faintest idea what I wanted to do for my Senior Individualized Project. With this in mind I began frantically filing through any and all potential topics to pursue. Originally, I settled on the idea of directing and acting in a number of selected Shakespearean scenes. This idea fit me well because of my interest in theatre and history. By working on multiple facets on the theatrical side, I would be able to determine what aspect(s) of the theatre that I wanted to pursue following my graduation. However, before I finalized this topic, a friend of mine asked me to read Strindberg' s Miss Julie. He wanted my opinion on the piece because he wanted to direct the show the following winter. I complied with his request and found Miss Julie to be the answer to my SIP problem. I then asked him if he would be willing to pre-cast me in the role of Jean, the sole male character in the show, so that I could use that process as my SIP experience. After some deliberation he agreed and we were underway. I wanted to perform Miss Julie as my SIP for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Miss Julie would allow me to fully incorporate both facets of my Kalamazoo College education into one cumulative performance. Being a history major, I would be able to research and incorporate the historical aspects of 19th century Sweden into my SIP performance. As a theatre minor, I would be able to perform a complex and interesting role that was an extremely challenging to portray honestly given the multifaceted nature of Jean's character. This fascinating role would allow me to fully immerse and challenge myself in ways that I had yet to experience in the college setting. Jean, Strindberg's leading man in Miss Julie, is a character who has a very dualistic personality that makes him incredibly 2 difficult to understand and even more difficult to perform truthfully within the historical perspective. This role would allow me to challenge myself as a student of theatre as well. To fully understand Jean, I had to research and contemplate the implications that his society had upon him. This undertaking would eventually serve to tax me theatrically, intellectually and physically. The play, Miss Julie, to me, is an outstanding piece of dramatic literature that would serve to push me to my limits as a student of history and acting. It would not only culminate my academic experience at Kalamazoo College, but it would also force me to determine whether or not acting was an avenue that I wished to pursue professionally. Having gone through this exploration of myself and my passions, I have discovered a great deal about the way in which I operate within the stressful environment of the theatre.
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