18 December 2010
The trilogy To Damascus was written in 1898. It exhibited the primary characteristic of Strindbergian expressionism, that of splitting a single personality into several characters, each representing a facet of the whole and together illustrating the conflicts in the mind. All the images and actions in To Damascus are seen through the eyes of ‘The Unknown’, who represents the author himself. This character shares his poverty and his guilt with ‘The Lady’, who represents the author’s wife or wives. The Unknown thinks he recognizes himself in a Beggar and in Caesar, a madman, while other characters, a Doctor, a Confessor and the Lady’s pious Mother, remind him of his guilt. So characters are not used in the usual way as figures who are part of a story. They are agents who together stand for a condition of mankind. (J. L. Styan)
The Biblical title of the play refers to Saul’s journey to Damascus and to his conversion to Christianity, but the play is otherwise autobiographical, darkly translating to the stage Strindberg’s unhappiness of the so-called ‘Inferno’ period which followed his divorce from his first wife in 1891.
The first production of To Damascus was at the Royal Dramatic Theatre Stockholm in 1900.
46th Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor