Budskapet till Maria


Budskapet till Maria  Dramaten Johan Holmberg, Maria Salomaa. Foto Hans Malm.





Claudel situates the play in Middle Ages, a time from which some theatre historians think there wasn't any theatre happening. Still often it is the time itself, which appears to be topic of pieces



In Dramaten’s Lilla Scenen you can see author Paul Claudels „L'annonce faite à Marie“. Written as a first edition in 1892. Put on stage by Wilhelm Carlsson. Claudel situates the play in Middle Ages, a time from which some theatre historians think there wasn't any theatre happening. Still often it is the time itself, which appears to be topic of pieces.


The performance begins with fog and sound. The Light goes on and we see Violaine standing on stage. This way she is introduced as the play’s main-character. She’s the one of two daughters in the play’s family.

Throughout the performance light and sound are very important. They initiate atmosphere or introduce an outside world. But the sounds are not the ones we’d expect for Middle Ages. The costumes and dividing up of work for women and men are the only things, which could be thought as middle-aged.


The first interaction between two characters happens right in the beginning of the performance. Master Pierre and Violaine have a very long dialogue. They move around the stage, but there isn’t any other action. The light divides the stage. The two characters mostly wander around the light spots on the floor. Sometimes Violaine steps inside a light spot and is lit up. It lets us think of a church, where the light only little breaks through the high windows and produces a darkish and mystic atmosphere. The dreadful event happens, when Violaine kisses Master Pierre. She’s the one, who does it, not him. We will remember this, when we get to know about her sickness.


Scene and the scenery change. Now the room is smaller, divided into side alleys and front stage, by walls, made out of 10 cm wide wood-planks. They look like high wood-fences, which can be pulled up and down. The only object is a big, heavy wooden-table, where the mother now is working on a bread-dough. She’s working, her husband just stands beneath and talks. We get to think about gender-roles in Middle Ages.

The father asks his wife for permission to leave the family and go to Jerusalem. His faith is stronger then the love to his family. And even he asks her, she answers more under pressure, as if there would be no other choice for her. The play is bringing up a critic on faith and it’s role in family life.


The mother is the centre of the family. We find the proof for this, when Mara, the second child, is forcing her mother to ask her husband to deny the marriage between Violaine and Jacques. Mara is in love, at least she says so, but we could get the impression, it being more a power tool, to gain position in the family and be violent against her sister.


The father leaves, and for at least three minutes nothing happens on stage. The audience has to hear a song with a woman singing. Not clear, why this song and what it should tell us. This is the act’s change.

Violaine is serving in church, as is shown through her costume: three sacral icons show her faith in Christianity. She and Jacques meet each other and have a talk. Violaine’s character annoys, as she doesn’t know if she wants Jacques or not. If her father wants she to want Jacques, then she will. The endless dialogues between her and Jacques remind us about Shakespeare: Things could be said in one sentence, but aren’t.


After all Jacques decides to leave Violaine, as she tells him, that she’s sick of leprosy. She hides in a cave, her sister marries Jacques and they have a kid. The baby dies, but is brought back to life by the now blind Violaine in the cave. In the end she’s found by the returned father and dies on the table in the family’s house. The father appears as the prophet from far away, who’s protecting his beloved daughter. The entire story is simply just about family, faith, responsibility, sickness and crazy sisters. The performance by Carlsson takes very long and ended, as expected, with a family reunion (except the mother, not clear, where she went to), the sister’s guilt and Jacques’ self-hatred.


Saima Sägesser


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