Brexit Stage Left

What Ever Happened After Ibsen and Strindberg?

Contemporary Women Playwrights from Scandinavia on the British Stage

Contemporary Scandinavian theatre is underrepresented on British stages. When asked about important authors from the Nordic countries, one will presumably mention but Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg. Texts like a Doll’s House or Miss Julie have become European canons, yet they have allegedly prevented a younger generation of playwrights from emerging outside of Scandinavia, let alone women playwrights.

The aim of this paper is to shed light on some of the authors that gained momentum in their home countries during the 1980s, in the aftermath of Second-Wave Feminism. The Norwegian Bjørg Vik and the Swedish Margareta Garpe have been important voices of a Scandinavian theatre revolution that has put the female question at the core. With the aid of the semiotics of theatre applied to translation studies, I will discuss how exemplary plays like Vik’s Daughters (1979) and Garpe’s For Julia (1987) have been translated and readapted, in order to understand the reasons why these texts have not been part of the programmes of any British theatre. Whether this is due to the general preference for “canonical” Scandinavian authors or to a mere lack of interest in the themes, I would like to examine cultural and social barriers that have become obstacles in the staging of supposedly “marginal” Scandinavian playwrights on the British stage.

Luca Tosadori