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The Billposter as Alchemist: A Dream Play in Düsseldorf 1915-1918

Chapter in book
Authors Astrid von Rosen
Published in Strindberg across Borders / edited by Massimo Ciaravolo
Pages 305-326
ISBN 9788895868202
Publisher Istituto Italiano Studi Germanici
Place of publication Rom
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 305-326
Language en
Keywords Knut Ström, Strindberg, A Dream Play, Historiography, Scenography, Visual interpretation, Alchemy
Subject categories Art History


This article draws on recent research within the trans-disciplinary project "Dream-Playing Across Borders: Accessing the non-texts of August Strindberg's A Dream Play in Düsseldorf 1915-1918 and Beyond", located at the university of Gothenburg, Sweden. The overarching aim of the project is to explore this nearly forgotten early production of A Dream Play from various perspectives, by focusing on non-texts. In recognition of this, the aim of the article is to exploit the potential of visual archival material to contribute new knowledge about how Strindberg's A Dream Play might have been interpreted in the early 20th century. More specifically, the article first addresses historiographical challenges concerning the sketches made by scenographer/director Knut Ström for A Dream Play in Düsseldorf, and then explores visual items to discover how Ström interpreted Strindberg's drama visually. Sketches where the Billposter is in focus demonstrate that Ström brings out a predominantely visually coded alchemical vein in a Dream Play. Having noticed the importance of context, and striving to give voice to often used and reproduced but equally often unfairly treated visual traces, the article demonstrates the applicability of in-depth visual analyses.

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