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Introduction: Dream-Playing with Non-texts Across Borders

Chapter in book
Authors Astrid von Rosen
Published in Dream-Playing across Borders: Accessing the Non-texts of Strindberg’s A Dream Play in Düsseldorf 1915–18 and Beyond
Pages 11-39
ISBN 978-91-7061-232-9
Publisher Makadam
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 11-39
Language en
Keywords Arkivforskning, Ett drömspel, Strindberg, Knut Ström, performativitet, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf
Subject categories Art History


“Dream-Playing” is an interdisciplinary scholarly project that both deconstructs and utilizes “the Strindberg canon” by assessing a pool of hitherto untapped archival materials, creatively and collaboratively, in order to chart the border-crossing, multi-disciplinary, and radically innovative modernity of Strindberg’s A Dream Play and its involvement in ongoing discourses. By looking beyond the canon of early stagings of the drama, the project draws attention to a previously almost completely unknown production of A Dream Play (Ett drömspel/Ein Traumspiel) that premièred in Düsseldorf, Germany, on 16 October 1918 in the final phase of the First World War. Co-directed by Swedish scenographer-director Knut Ström (1887–1971) and German actor-director Paul Henckels (1885–1967), and with music by Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871–1927), it was only the third production of the drama in Germany. While most of the reviewers praised the performance as a considerable artistic achievement, some also expressed ambivalence and critical opinions, indicating a contextual complexity worthy of further exploration. As much of the source materials are not text-based, it can be argued that a multimedia investigation of the topic can make new contributions to our knowledge about the early productions of a play that Strindberg described as “my most beloved Drama, the child of my greatest pain”. Thus, the Dream-Playing project proposes an innovative approach to the study of archival materials, viewing the non-text based archive in particular as having a performative aspect. Because Ström’s scenographic work and Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf are not well known among an Anglo-Saxon readership, they are introduced in the following, together with an outline of the main features of the Dream-Playing endeavour. This is followed by a presentation of the dramatic text and the individual contributions.

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