Miss Julie: Sledgehammer Theatre's Modern Re-Imagining of Strindberg's Classic
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The last date listed for Miss Julie was Friday April 11, 2008 / 8:00pm.
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Sledgehammer Theatre will open its season with a sexy, intense, and fresh vision of August Strindberg’s groundbreaking “Miss Julie,” adapted and directed by Los Angeles theatre wunderkind, Josh Chambers, who has been hailed as “an authentic visionary whose work should soon be making a giant impact on the face of American theatre,” by Martin Denton of nytheatre.com, and featuring a company of L.A.’s most exciting young theater artists. Mr. Chambers, who also works in the film industry as a composer, will create an original score for this production.
Miss Julie continues Sledgehammer’s long history of creating unique, challenging and award winning theater spectacles based on the work of Swedish iconoclast August Strindberg (Ghost Sonata and The Dream Play). “Strindberg is our theatrical soul mate,” says Sledgehammer Artistic Director Scott Feldsher, “his work tears into the accepted conventions of both society and theater. Strindberg seemed to be doing a kind of exploratory surgery into the diseased body of the 19th Century. We feel like we’ve always done the same with the 20th and now the 21st century.” Previous Strindberg productions at Sledgehammer have been helmed by current artistic director Feldsher (Ghost Sonata, 2000) and previous artistic director Kirsten Brandt (The Dream Play, 2004). Chambers, who was the composer and musical director for Sledgehammer’s South of Heaven at the tender age of 20, certainly fits the mold of a Sledgehammer iconoclast, “…but he’s even more radical and confrontational than either Kirsten or me. I guarantee Josh’s production is going to turn some heads.”
Josh Chambers’ adaptation of Miss Julie uses August Strindberg’s original text as “found shards” of narrative in which to reshape and deface the story of the sexual and social clash between two servants and their mistress on Mid Summer Eve. Set in Southern California in 2008, Miss Julie aims to distort time and space and to meld character and location in order to create an episodic, collage-driven theatrical spectacle.
“My interest in directing Miss Julie is in creating a production and process that exploits the violent nature of personal transformation,” says Chambers, who adds, “…the gender politics and sexual taboos of the original text are no longer at the forefront of a modern currency of change, and are therefore useless. For myself, and for my collaborators, the flesh on the monument of Miss Julie has become about one thing – the inevitable victory of the anarchic impulse over the mediocre – a victory of will and imagination over the celebrated, the tenured and the acclaimed.”
Chambers, who has written and directed numerous musical-plays and is a sought after composer for independent films, will also compose an original score for the production, which, he says, “…uses original avant-pop music to illuminate the spectral corners of subtext in the play, as well as to place the experience directly in the culture of the Southern California lifestyle. The songs are a combination of corrupted musical theatrics, experimental pop structures, and old school rock and roll excess. We view this music, at times, as interior monologue, as cathartic redemption, and as pure sonic filth.”
The rest of the artistic ensemble for Miss Julie is made up of some L.A.’s top young theatre talent including actress Claire Smith, playing Julie, scenic designer Ken McKenzie, lighting designer John Eckert, costume designer Leah Piehl, as well as one of the founding members of Brooklyn’s Fovea Floods, Jay Maury, reuniting with Chambers in the role of sound designer and sonic architect.