In an often-quoted statement, Ingmar Bergman has called film his mistress, theatre his faithful wife. But this faithful wife is hardly a graceful Greek muse, neither Thalia nor Melpomene. Thalia she certainly is, but in the guise of a monumental sculpture by the Swedish artist, Bror Marklund, striding towards the visitor in the lobby of Malmö City Theatre where Bergman worked from 1952-58. This robust, sensuous Thalia, or rather “Venus vulgivaga” caused considerable comment when she was unveiled, in 1944. Bergman remembers her thus:
It is a large, well-developed, gorgeous female figure with generous contours; she has an insolent, merry face with a large mouth and a big nose.. She is indomitable and free, and an incredible laughter is painted all over her face. That is how I see the theatre when it is best and truest.
This is also how Bergman envisaged the players in his 1986 production of Hamlet, for in the script of Richard Looft, assistant to the director, there is a note before their entry, reminding him to get a picture of Marklund’s Thalia!
So, here we have the embodiment of Bergman’s faithful wife: not exactly ont he side of the angels, but lusty, carnal, speaking to the senses and feelings. One may also add: she is a strong, motherly woman. In serving her, the director, like his Hamlet, has always shown a sensuous delight in theatricality, availing himself of every tool to knock the audience off their feet, arousing their emotions one way or another. Bergman’s productions make use of most art forms, combining them and transgressing their borders to give a heightened relation between stage and auditorium, and his work in the theatre thus seems to lend itself particularly well to interart studies. (Continue reading the introduction by Ann Carpenter Fridén in NTS vol 11…)
Ann Carpenter Fridén
Introduction: Ingmar Bergman and the Arts
Ingmar Bergman’s First Meeting with Thalia
Eva Sundler Malmnäs
Art as Inspiration
The Metamorphosis of The Bacchae: From Ancient Rites to TV Opera
The Terrible Encounter with a God: The Bacchae as Rite and Liturgical Drama in Ingmar Bergman’s Staging
Transcending Boundaries: Bergman’s Magic Flute
Ingmar Bergman and the Theater: An Exhibition of Process and Results
Ingmar Bergman in the Eyes of Italian Theatre Critics
Barba and Poststructuralism. The Metaphysics of the Third Theatre