NDSU students perform in August Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’
Scandalous, shameful, reprehensible – those are among the terms once used to describe the play that is the latest offering of Theatre NDSU. Tame by today’s standards, the drama demonstrates how times have changed.
August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie,” first published in 1888, was considered so provocative that it was banned through much of Europe because of its frank presentation of social class, love, lust and power.
The drama is set in 1874 on the estate of a Swedish count, where Miss Julie attempts to break away from an existence cramped by social customs. She dances at the servants’ annual midsummer party, where she is drawn to a senior servant named Jean. The pair enter a relationship, and in the end, Jean convinces her the only way to escape her regretted predicament is to take a step leading to a morally incomprehensible action.
The staging, storyline and conflicted characters have proven a thought-provoking mix for the NDSU student troupe. It is a true showcase for their many talents.
Jordan Christie, a junior majoring in theatre arts from Wahpeton, N.D., plays Jean. “The role is shaping up to be one of my personal favorites. It's challenging, but that's part of what I love about it. I've thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating the character, and can hardly wait to perform,” Christie said. “I enjoy being part of NDSU Theatre because we produce quality work, and have quite a bit of fun doing it.”
Playing the lead role of Miss Julie is Stephanie Olfert, a junior from Aberdeen, S.D., who is studying for her Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre performance. “It has been an incredible experience. The emotional journey Julie makes throughout the show is exciting and fun to play as an actor,” she said. “And, of course, the intensity of the ending is wonderful.”
Meantime, Seth Eberle, a senior theatre arts major, designed the “Miss Julie” set, often relying on his experience last spring in Oslo, Norway, when he created the scenery for the European touring production of the opera, “Teskjekjerringa Princesesse Pompadur.”
He describes the “Miss Julie” set as having two essential elements – the greenery and decorations of the Midsummer’s Eve celebration and the naturalistic, earthy feel of the estate’s kitchen. “The set is split into this dichotomy because the play deals with the dichotomy between the upper and lower class and the split between the sexes,” Eberle explained. “The outdoor element is meant to literally surround the audience and emulate a cage because of the emphasis on the split between the classes. There is the distinct feeling that people are trapped in the class to which they are born, and this element is meant to emphasize that.”
The production of “Miss Julie” is another example of the outstanding and varied abilities of a gifted group of students at NDSU.
“There's so much I love about Theatre NDSU,” Olfert said, perhaps describing the feelings of others in the production. “The professors have helped me immensely with my journey as an actor; there are the fellow actors, who are full of laughs; and then there are the shows – there is such a great variety in the plays we do here. That creates a unique opportunity to always try new and different things.”
“Miss Julie” is scheduled Nov. 30 through Dec. 4, with performances set for Wednesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Walsh Studio Theatre.
Ticket information is available at www.ndsu.edu/finearts