August Strindberg

The BBC Radio August Strindberg Collection

The BBC Radio August Strindberg Collection

13 Full-Cast Productions including Miss Julie, The Father and The Dream Play


A comprehensive selection of August Strindberg’s finest works, featuring an all-star cast and original music

Hailed by Arthur Miller as ‘the mad inventor of modern theatre’, Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, poet and novelist whose groundbreaking works mingled naturalism and psychology and paved the way for Expressionist drama. A prolific writer – penning over 60 plays, 19 novels and nine autobiographies – his turbulent life was marked by emotional conflict. This wide-ranging collection brings together 13 of his most important dramas and a semi-autobiographical ‘occult diary’, enhanced through stunning soundscapes and music composed by Strindberg himself.

First up is his debut play, the 1872 historical drama Master Olof. Influenced by Ibsen’s Brand, it centres around a revolutionary 16th-century priest’s defiance of the Catholic Church and the monarchy. It is followed by The Father, whose focus is paternity and the battle for power between a husband and wife. Sexuality and social class are scrutinised in a retelling of Strindberg’s classic play Miss Julie, placed in a Scottish context, while in Creditors, a Swedish seaside resort is the setting for marriage-wrecking revenge. Also set by the sea, Strindberg’s black comedy of manners Playing with Fire explores a love triangle between a young couple and their close friend.

Begun in 1898 while Strindberg was recovering from a breakdown, To Damascus is a symbolic synthesis of his marital, religious and existential struggles. Erik XIV portrays the last years of the titular King of Sweden’s reign, as the increasingly unstable ruler becomes embroiled in a bitter feud with the nobility. Next is Ingmar Bergman’s version of A Dream Play, Strindberg’s oneiric fantasy exploring human suffering and life’s illusions. Easter tells the redemptive tale of a family fearing ruin who instead find hope, forgiveness and mercy. Performed for the first time in English, The Virgin Bride centres on a wedding that could reconcile two rival families – but can the bride prove her chastity by wearing a bridal crown? Following their father’s death, a brother and sister discover disturbing truths about their mother in The Pelican, and in The Ghost Sonata, adultery, murder and deceit are laid bare in the house of the living dead…

Our final piece, Strindberg’s dark prose poem Inferno, recounts his experiments in alchemy and black magic, his sojourn in hell and his quest for faith and love. It is narrated by Alan Badel.

These outstanding dramas feature star casts including Brian Cox, Fiona Shaw, Andrew Garfield, Rory Kinnear, Maurice Denham, Martin Jarvis, Trevor Howard, Peggy Ashcroft, Stephen Murray, Judy Bennett, Frank Finlay, Ian Richardson, Janet McTeer and Dorothy Tutin.

First published 1872 (Master Olof), 1887 (The Father), 1888 (Miss Julie), 1889 (Creditors), 1892 (Playing with Fire), 1898-1904 (To Damascus), 1899 (Erik XIV), 1901 (A Dream Play, Easter, The Virgin Bride), 1907 (The Pelican), 1908 (The Ghost Sonata), 1912 (Inferno)

First broadcast on BBC Radio, 1968-2005

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