Reflections on Sexuality Discourses in
Contemporary Stage Productions of Strindberg’s Drama
In his most utopian book, Eros and Civilization, Herbert Marcuse envisaged a society where labor would be transformed into playful gratification and accompanied by generalized sexual pleasure. Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich along with the Freudian Left were all coming to agree that sexual pleasure was a progressive force capable of transforming human relations, however divergently they saw such progress. The 1960s was a time, according to Angela Carter, when sexual pleasure was suddenly divorced from not only reproduction but also status, security, and all the foul traps men lay for women in order to trap them into permanent relationships.
Following on the legacy of sexual liberation and the lively contemporary feminist debates in Sweden on marriage and the liberating effects of divorce this paper wants to analyze the status of (hetero) sexual marriage and divorce discourses in contemporary stage productions of the Strindbergian drama. This approach is connected with the contemporary interest in happiness studies, a trend that seems to be all everywhere by asking if it is- as Immanuel Kant once wrote - reasonable to pursue happiness, but rather to try to earn it? Or is that - as Freud argued in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (1930) - once and for all impossible to be happy no matter how your life choices might look like? By examining how marriage, divorce, and sexuality are portrayed in contemporary productions of Strindberg's works, this paper tries to find answers to the question whether Strindberg plays any role in our own time, or if he is an obsolete chapter in history.