History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Scandinavian Post-WWII
Among Swedish playwrights, a prominent place is accorded to Lars Norén (1944-?), among whose plays is the drama "Natten är dagens mor" (Night is mother to the day, 1982).
"Night is mother to the day"
Time: . Place: Sweden.
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Stig Dagerman (1923-1954) should be remembered for "Den game av sanning" (The truth game, 1949).
"The truth game"
Time: 1940s. Place: Sweden.
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Knut's wife, Alma, has just died in a butcher's shop. Their son, Bengt, receives the news very badly. He accuses his father of being at least partly responsible for her death because of his frequent absences. Knut denies this, though admitting he had an adulterous relation. Knut's sisters, Alice and Frida, quarrel about who should obtain the best items among the dead woman's wardrobe while Bengt resents seeing his paternal aunts wear his mother's clothes. He tells Bergit, his girlfriend, he sometimes follows his father to the cinema house, where his mistress, Gun, works as a cashier. Although unsure about whether his mother ever knew about their adulterous relation, he accuses his father of his indiffence towards his mother while she was alive, on one occasion buying her a dress that did not fit. Indeed, he once heard his mother say: "It looks as if it were bought for someone else." Irritated at these accusations, Knut divulges he has evidence that his wife had her own adulterous relation. After mentioning that Gun will come to their house the next day, Bengt threatens to affront her. "I will remind myself she killed my mother," he declares. In Gun's cabin, Bengt confronts his father one more time. "We must not judge others, Bengt," Knut affirms, to which he answers: "Yes, we must, we must judge crimes." When Bengt expresses a desire to speak to Gun alone, Knut at first disapproves but then relents. Bengt tells Gun he would have liked to place her against the wall, except there are no more walls. Unafraid, Gun asks him whether he ever liked his mother. He admits that he did not, being especially disgusted at the sight of her fat body. After she locks the cabin door, Bengt places his head on her knees. She strokes his hair. Bergit shows up but, unable to enter the cabin, is forced to turn away. Months later, Bergit tells Bengt she knows about his sexual relation with Gun but yet loves him still. On the anniversary of his mother's death, Bengt learns that his father and Gun have published their wedding banns. Knut gives Alma's possessions to his sisters as gifts. Although Bengt is unwilling to accept his father's watch as a gift, Gun puts it on his wrist.
Among Norwegian playwrights, Tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970) achieved prominence with "Bleikeplassen" (The bleaching yard, 1953). Hermundsgård (2001) summarized the play in this fashion. “The story deals with the forces of light and darkness in The tension between these forces is expressed in the scenery: bright white linen and the cold, dark laundry room. This work centers on the isolation of people and their lack of understanding but on nurturing and love. In his anxiety and loneliness, Johan Tander struggles with the demons within himself. But in the end, another human being reaches out to him.” (p 139)
"The bleaching yard"
Time: 1950s. Place: Rural Norway.
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At a laundry, Jan, a forester, reveals to his girlfriend, Vera, a book-keeper, that the manager, Johan, is planning an evil deed. Johan's wife, Elise, thinks that her husband is bothered by something and that Jan should talk with him. But he refuses and goes off to the woods to mark trees with his fellow workers, Stein and Amund. A laundry worker, Anna, resents the fact that Vera took Jan away from her. They suddenly notice some writing on the wall across the road: "No one has ever cared for Johan Tander". "The most awful thing I have ever seen," Anna declares. Krister, a sick and retired old man, comes out to see whether anyone cares for him, a sign according to him that the end is near. When Johan points out to Elise this message on the wall, they become glum, since they lost a child and cannot have another. "It's as great a shame for you as it is for me," Johan remarks about the message. He asks Vera to wipe the message out, but she refuses. "I did it," Elise confesses to her fellow worker, Marte, "to frighten him away from thinking about Vera." When Marte suggests that they wipe it off, she refuses. While rummaging through dirty laundry, Elise discovers a piece of cloth. "Doesn't it look as if it has been dragged through blood?" she asks, following which Krister pops back in. "I have a great wish to have a good shirt to die in," he declares. Later, Marte suggests that Johan should wipe the message off, but he refuses, announcing that the man who did this will be punished today. Alone with Jan, Anna admits she loves him still. "I have never loved you more than I love you now," she admits. Their talk is interrupted by Krister who asks Jan for the shirt. "You'll lose more than that," Krister announces to Johan. He also thinks Johan will die. To calm him down, Anna removes a shirt from the pile she was working on and gives it to him. She is especially worried about Johan's mood. "Don't touch Jan," she pleads. While pressing the shirt against his body, Krister is now convinced that someone cares for him. Soon, Johan confronts Jan. "You have to be gotten rid of," he says to Jan. "You have ruined Vera for me." At the end of the working day, in the bleaching yard, Johan wipes the message off the wall. Elise is all the more worried. She admits to Anna that she wrote it and Anna reveals this to Johan. "She did it because she cares for me," says a relaxed Johan. Unaware of the change in Johan, Jan enters belligerently. He proposes to Stein and Amund that they duck the fellow in searing lye. As Johan walks towards the tub, he suddenly collapses. The three men are bewildered when they discover him dead. "Krister is dead, too," Anna announces. When the workers inform Elise of her husband's death, she is unexpectedly calm. "I think I have come out of the darkness," she declares.
Among Icelandic playwrights, there is "Sjoleioin til Baddad" (The seaway to Baghdad, 1965) by Jökull Jakobsson (1933-).
"The seaway to Baghdad"
Time: 1950s. Place: Iceland.
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Because of his mother's death, Halldor must return home from sea to take care of his demented father, Eirik, living at the home of an unhappy couple, Mundi and Thora and their daughter, Signy. Eirik had been unable to support his wife, so that he has been forced to live in their house without paying rent for the last three months. Aside from mental problems, Eirik is sick. Halldor plans to improve their financial situation by sailing to Italy with a friend, buy merchandise, and return to Iceland to sell it at inflated prices. One evening, while Halldor invites Signy up to his room to show her the wares he obtained during his various travels, Signy's 14-year old sister, Hilda, returns home drunk from a party. In an ill humor, Halldor requests that she go to bed, but yet she hangs around. Aroused, Halldor invites her to his bedroom. When Signy comes back down, she finds the two in her bed. He expects her to call for the police, but she does nothing. Nevertheless, Halldor decides to head for Italy. Hilda informs her mother that she has failed her examinations and been hired to work in a fish factory. Despite her daughter's protests, an outraged Thora promises to speak about this matter to the school's headmaster. Meanwhile, Halldor has found a house out west to live with his father and asks Signy to live with them. She hesitates. Eventually, she begins to accept the idea, but then he changes his mind. When Eirik arrives to say goodbye, all her pent-up anger rises to the surface. Halldor tells Eirik he will head out as a seaman again. "How I'd love to get a card from Baghdad!" Thora exclaims. "It's a long way to Baghdad from the sea," Hilda remarks. "Who knows but one day I may drift to Baghdad?" Halldor muses.