Its Julie Again

By Tora Agarwala

ExpressIndia, March 19, 2012

How relevant is a 19th century Swedish play in the 21st-century India? That’s the question Sohaila Kapoor of Delhi-based Katyayani Theatre Group is trying to answer with August Strindberg’s sensuous 1888 drama, Miss Julie. Kapoor’s adaptation of Miss Julie, like the original, focuses on class struggle and the power play between a man and a woman. The play is being staged as part of Strindberg Weekend organised to mark the death centenary of the renowned Swedish playwright.

The drama, set on a midsummer night of 1874, sees Julie, daughter of a wealthy count, embark upon a love affair with her servant, Jean. Thus ensues a power game between the two, which ultimately leads Julie to commit suicide, on Jean’s suggestion. “Considering it was International Women’s Day a few days ago, it seems fitting to stage a play by Strindberg who has always been known for mistrusting women,” says Kapoor, who founded Katyayani in 1994.

Incidentally, it was Miss Julie with which the-then fledgling group started their journey in the theatre world. Almost 18 years after first staging the play here, Kapoor feels it is still relevant to the Indian Society. “I wonder how many women in India would be able to stomach a one-night stand with the khansama and then face the family squarely the following morning?” she asks, adding, “Which is why, it becomes all the more important to stage plays that force us to face our hypocrisy.”

The Strindberg Weekend has been organised by Katyayani in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy and Old World Culture and will commence with a dramatised reading of Strindberg’s work, The Father, on March 22.

Miss Julie will be staged at Epicentre, Gurgaon, on March 23, 7:30 pm, and India Habitat Centre on March 24, 7:30 pm.

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