Miss Julie by August Strindberg
Set Designer: Ashley Waldron
Miss Julie is a Swedish naturalistic play written in 1888 by August Strindberg. It is set on Midsummer's Eve on the estate of a Count in Sweden. Miss Julie, the Count's daughter, is drawn to a senior servant named John, who is particularly well-traveled, well-mannered and well-read. The majority of the action takes place in the servants' kitchen of the Count's manor, where a pious servant named Christine is the main cook, and also John's fiancée. Characters typically enter and exit the stage through a glass door. In the background, there is a drunken revelry going on outside.
On this night, the relationship between Miss Julie and John escalates rapidly to feelings of love and is subsequently consummated. As soon as that happens, the characters' class roles are gradually interchanged, and Miss Julie experiences a self-realized fall from grace. Over the course of the play, Miss Julie and John argue until John convinces her that the only way to escape her predicament is not to run away to another land with him, but supposedly to commit suicide.
*The actions of Miss Julie after she finally exits the stage are never resolved, it is up to the reader and/or viewer to decide what happens to her.
The design for the glass door was adapted from various glass panes on kitchen cabinets and typical church windows, and the splashes of bright colors illustrate that there is a Midsummer's Eve party going on outside.
I put a large window in the stage left wall because there are moments in the play where it is unclear as to where John and Julie are physically located while talking all night. Most of their time together takes place in the kitchen; however, I was imagining that they would be flirting with each other around the tree trunk and ladder while discussing their dream sequences–an important part of the text that explains a little bit about their class roles and ultimate character development.
The servant's kitchen is essentially Christine's personal realm, because she is the main cook and does all of the housework. She is a very religious woman, she embodies the conservative values and morals of society, and was written into the story to represent the overarching expectations of women during this era.