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after the rehearsal / persona

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After the rehearsal
Hendrik Vogler is directing his fifth production of Strindberg’s A Dream Play. On the empty stage after a rehearsal, he meets the young, ambitious actress Anna, who is playing the lead in his latest production. They talk about the play, about life and the central role that deception can play in it. Hendrik recalls memories of Anna’s late mother Rachel, with whom he had an adulterous affair. She too was an actress, undermined by alcohol and fear of failure. She appears on the stage as a ghost from the past and confronts Hendrik with his cowardice and half-heartedness during their years together. Anna tells Hendrik that she is pregnant and wants to give up her part in the play. After his indignant response, she confesses that she has had an abortion and that she was only testing him. They fantasize about starting a relationship and sharing a life together.

Elisabeth Vogler, a celebrated actress, stops talking in the middle of a performance and withdraws into silence. Alma, a young nurse, accompanies her to a summer house on a deserted island and attempts to coax Elisabeth back to life by provoking a response and inviting her to open up and speak for herself. Tension builds between the two women. In her efforts to save Elisabeth, Alma loses her own innocence and realizes that she too is manipulating and feeding off the life and the feelings of this other woman.

Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman (1918 – 2007) is considered one of the greatest film and theatre directors of all time. He wrote and directed over forty feature films including The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Serpent’s Egg, and Fanny and Alexander. As a playwright and theatre director, he staged over one hundred performances in his native Sweden and on various leading European stages. His body of work has been honoured with numerous prizes and has influenced an entire generation of directors.

After the Rehearsal (1984) is based on the short television play that Bergman wrote about the theatre and acting. On Persona, his masterpiece from 1966, Bergman had the following to say: ‘At some time or other, I said that Persona saved my life – that is no exaggeration. If I had not found the strength to make that film, I would probably have been all washed up. (…) Today I feel that in Persona – and later in Cries and Whispers – I had gone as far as I could go. And that in these two instances, when working in total freedom, I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover.’

Ivo van Hove
‘Is art important? In After the Rehearsal, we see a director for whom theatre is the very essence of his life. The theatre fuels his existence and his productions resemble autobiographies. To him, the world of illusions is a reality. In the theatre he experiences his deepest longings, exorcizes his fears, experiences the beginnings of love and bids farewell to threadbare, worn out relationships. In Persona, an actress abruptly stops in the middle of a performance of Electra. She refuses to speak another word. For her, acting has become meaningless. She no longer wants to play the role of an actress. She is admitted to hospital, where a young nurse tries to give her back her appetite for life. Two short works, akin to musical sonatas, which ask questions about the meaning of theatre and of art in our lives, our society. As befits the grandmaster Ingmar Bergman, he does this without moralizing but with an unwavering focus on and deep understanding of people in all their complexity and humanity. Moving yet uncompromising.’ 

The production was realised in collaboration with Auteursbureau ALMO bvba commissioned by Josef Weinberger Ltd, London and the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.



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age of rage

age of rage

Fri 02 Dec 2022 - 19:00
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
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