Miss Julie: Swedish naturalism at HCC



Allison Bistany, as Miss Julie and Andrew Laughery, as Jean, discuss their relationship.

  April 5-7 2017, the HCC Theater Department preformed their rendition of Miss Julie, written by Swedish naturalist, August Strindberg. Miss Julie is a tragedy that takes place at the mansion of a rich Swedish count the night and morning following midsummer’s eve.

  Miss Julie, the counts daughter, falls in love with the mansion’s valet, Jean, who is engaged to one of the mansion’s servants, Kristine. Jean sees Miss Julie’s affection as an opportunity to rise above his station, and he goes on to seduce Miss Julie, setting Kristine aside.

  Kristine represents the pinnacle of righteousness and reminds both Miss Julie and Jean throughout the play that what they are doing is sinful, betraying both God and their respective positions. After luring Miss Julie to bed, Jean tries to use their spontaneous romance to his advantage. He reminds Miss Julie that having gone to bed with a man unwed, and a servant no less, she had disgraced herself and her only hope was to run away with him. Miss Julie, romanticizing it all, agrees until she realizes that Jean only wants her for her money, and when she reveals that she has no money of her own, he turns her away just as quickly as he had seduced her.

  Miss Julie is a complex play that touches on most of the difficult aspects of life, where social hierarchy and the roles of men and women in society are the most prominent ones. The play was written in 1888, but is still relevant today. At the Q and A with the cast and director, one of the topics discussed was women’s role in society. Allison Bistany, who played Miss Julie at the evenings performance, talked about how women, even in today’s society, are often held to a higher standard than men. The rest of the cast agreed, also using the current political landscape as an example.

  The original play ends with Miss Julie taking her own life in frustration, but at half of the performances at HCC, the play ends with Miss Julie overcoming her frustration and leaving Jean, something the director did concisely to help shed light on women’s position in society.

  The play was directed by HCC Theater faculty member Suzy Devore and presented in the form of a “black box theater,” meaning that the audience was seated all-around the stage framed in black walls.

  The stage was set with a minimum of props, allowing the actors to be in close proximity to the audience.

  The play has 6 student actors that switched roles, playing leads in half the of the shows, and servants in the other half. During the reviewed performance, Miss Julie was played by Allison Bistany, Jean was played by Andrew Laughery and Kristine was played by Amirah Mahmood. At the other half of the shows, Miss Julie was played by Arielle Duran, Jean by Joshua Rivera and Kristine by Samantha Gonzalez. All of the actors delivered vivid performances with Laughery’s interpretation of Jean standing out. Laughery’s impeccable stage presence together with Bistany and Mahmood’s ability to captivate the audience made for a spectacular performance.