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Strindberg Creditors is Fateful Story of Love and Revenge: Play opens February 8 at SUNY New Paltz

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01/30/2002

NEW PALTZ -- The Department of Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz presents Creditors by August Strindberg. Performances are scheduled on February 8 and 9 at 8pm, and February 10 at 2pm. It is presented in Parker Theatre. Tickets are $12 adults and $10 senior citizens.

August Strindberg, the great 19th-century Swedish playwright, forever transformed the way men and women are portrayed on the stage. Even today, countless plays, movies, and television shows in which the "war between the sexes" is enacted are derived from Strindberg plays such as Miss Julie and Creditors. These passionate plays, peopled with characters driven by love, hate, jealousy, and honor, were banned in his native Sweden for many years for being too realistic.

Strindberg was obsessed and fascinated by the power of drama to concentrate action and ideas. He believed that the essence of human relationships is revealed in swift, catastrophic encounters. In Creditors, tormented artist Adolph is the neurotically jealous second husband of the flirtatious Tekla. Adolph falls victim to the machinations of Tekla's first husband, Gustav, who is determined to wreak his revenge - or, in the language of the play, "claim his credit" - on Tekla for humiliating him. Their taut interaction unfolds into a fateful story of love and revenge.

Written in 1888-89 immediately after Strindberg wrote Miss Julie, Creditors was first performed in March 1889 in Denmark. The playwright intended it to be performed in the kind of small experimental theatres that were springing up at the time in Europe. Creditors was first called a "tragedy" by Strindberg, and a "tragic-comedy" when it was published.

The play was created in an era when many people were becoming fascinated with human psychology. Hypnosis was a popular new phenomenon, and like others, Strindberg was fascinated by how the force of a personality could make another the victim of its will.

Naturalism in the theatre was also a very new idea, and perhaps it was in part his desire to be true to life that inspired Strindberg to draw from his personal life in the writing of the play. His publisher was intensely concerned that the depiction of the marital betrayals in the play, which so closely echoed Strindberg's own, would result in a lawsuit. His concern was only abated after Strindberg's own former wife, Tekla, a great actress of the day, agreed to play the role written to describe her, the character of Tekla.

The SUNY New Paltz production of Creditors is directed by Simone Federman, whose other productions at SUNY New Paltz include The Vagina Monologues and You Can't Take It With You. Scenery is by Liming Tang, lighting by John Wade, and costumes by Aletta Vett. Tickets are available at the door, 1 ½ hours before each performance. For additional information call the McKenna Box Office, 257-3880.

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