“To Damascus” in New York

The New York City-based August Strindberg Repertory Theater will present To Damascus, Part One from April 18 through May 11. The play has been described as “Strindberg’s most complex play” and “his greatest play,” with its mix of myths, symbols and ideas and a profound spiritual analysis in a new dramatic form.

The current production of To Damascus, Part One is adapted to Harlem, 1962 by Nathan James, an August Wilson playwrighting fellow, with a multi-racial cast. The play will preview on April 18 and run from April 20 to May 11 at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM with Sunday matinees at 1:30 PM. For tickets, visit the SmartTix.com website.

The Harlem 1962 setting was chosen by artistic director Robert Greer and dramaturg Nathan James, a frequent actor in Strindberg Rep productions. It seemed appropriate to place this expressionist play in an era where, at least in Black neighborhoods, the pace of social change had accelerated nearly to the point of surrealism. Not only had the Civil Rights era come to a boil during the early ’60s, but the first inter-racial couples had begun to appear in public. A partner in one of these couples was the literary artist Amiri Baraka. His parallels to The Stranger, the hero of Strindberg’s play, were poignant to James and Greer and influenced their vision for this character.

The trilogy of plays under the title To Damascus is Strindberg’s magnum opus, drawn from his near-total nervous breakdown, the marriage that preceded and precipitated it, and the restorative effects of the marriage that followed. The August Strindberg Rep will present Part Two in March, 2015 and Part Three in 2016, the first time the trilogy will have been presented complete in English and the first time in any language in 99 years!

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