Miss Julie by August Strindberg
Recommended by Divine Drama
I love the story as to how I came upon the play for this week. I’d posted on Facebook a request from the teachers who are part of the “Drama Peeps” group: “What play would you recommend someone read?” about a week or so ago. Suggestions abounded so I’m quite set for the next couple of weeks. One of the suggestions happened to be Miss Julie.
This week I have been on school holidays and was up in my loft looking for some old saxophone sheet music to take back to school for our one saxophone player who is part of the concert band we started this year. In the process of looking through all the boxes of old memories I found a box with old university lecture notes (I’d actually written on the front of the folder “I can’t bring myself to part with them”. Suffice to say I think the time is right for them to go) and a cotton bag full of old plays. I think the plays actually belong to my flatmate at the time who was taking this subject with me. It was one of my favourites and I one I still remember fondly. Basically, we sat around in our tutorial and discussed the Australian play we had read that week. For both of us we felt compelled to read more plays and we scoured the second hand bookshops looking for plays to read. Obviously my flatmate had stumbled upon Strindberg.
In the bag was a collection of three Strindberg plays “The Father”, “Miss Julie” and “Easter.” I recognised the Miss Julie title as one suggested by one of the teachers in the Facebook group. I read the introduction to get a gauge on who Strindberg was, not having read anything by him before. It so happened that his first wife’s name was Siri. I’d just spent the afternoon experimenting with Siri on my new i-Phone 5. It was a sign I tell you, lol. I had to read this play.
This edition actually called the play “Miss Julia” and the character of Christine was called Kristin (that could be the Swedish way to say it) so I actually went back to the Facebook group to check that I had read the right play and did a bit of Googling to back it up. I just love the stories and connections that are bringing me to find, read and enjoy these plays.
Miss Julie is a short one-act play, set in a kitchen of a large manor. Jean is the servant to Miss Julie’s father the Count who is never seen. Kristin or Christine is the Cook in the household. Essentially the story is about the relationship between men and women and how status and class have an influence on who you can and cannot be with romantically. I particularly noted the power plays between Jean and Miss Julie and also how dishonest and conniving Jean was.
For students there is monologue potential for both the characters of Miss Julie and Jean although you’ll have to piece certain parts together. If you are looking at status in class this could be a good play to use as well as if you are studying realism. I think it would also be interesting to consider the staging. How the characters would move around each other in the kitchen during some of the exchanges could be interesting to experiment with. I would even like to consider how the play could be contemporised for a modern audience.
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