Creditors (play)

Creditors (play)
Written by August Strindberg
Characters Tekla a writer
Adolf, her husband, a painter
Gustav, her former husband, a teacher
Two Ladies
A Porter
Date premiered 9 March 1889 (1889-03-09)
Place premiered Dagmar Theatre, Copenhagen
Original language Swedish, Danish
Genre Naturalistic tragicomedy
Setting A drawing room in a summer hotel by the sea

Creditors (Swedish: Fordringsägare) is a naturalistic tragicomedy by the Swedish playwright August Strindberg.[1][2] It was written in Swedish during August and September 1888 in Denmark.[3][4] It was first published in Danish in February 1889 and appeared in Swedish in 1890.[5][6] It premièred at the Dagmar Theatre in Copenhagen in March 1889.[7] It is seen as one of Strindberg's most powerful plays.[8] Strindberg himself, writing in 1892, described it as his "most mature work."[9]

In 1891, Strindberg accused Henrik Ibsen of plagiarising the play in his Hedda Gabler (1890): "Hedda Gabler is a bastard of Laura in The Father and Tekla in Creditors," he wrote.[10]


Production history

Creditors was first performed as part of a triple bill with Strindberg's one-act plays Pariah and The Stronger on 9 March 1889 at the Dagmar Theatre in Copenhagen, under the auspices of his newly-formed Scandinavian Experimental Theatre.[7][11] A week later, on 16 March, the production was staged in Malmö.[7][12] Nathalia Larsen played Tekla, Gustav Wied played Adolf, and Hans Riber Hunderup played Gustav.[7]

A new production was staged at the Swedish Theatre in Stockholm as part of a matinée double-bill with Simoon (a short, 15-minute play), which opened on 25 March 1890.[7][13] Another production was staged at the Vasa Theatre in Stockholm, opening on 9 January 1906.[14] Helge Wahlgren, an actor from the Intimate Theatre, toured a production of the play in the Swedish provinces in the autumn of 1909.[15] The play was staged in Strelitz as well in the same year.[15] In 1910, August Falck staged a production at the Intimate Theatre in Stockholm, which ran for 21 performances.[16] As part of the celebrations of Strindberg's 63rd birthday, the play was staged in Helsingborg and Karlskoga.[17] The Royal Dramatic Theatre staged it in 1915.[18]

The play received its German première on 22 January 1893 at the Residenz Theatre in Berlin, under the direction of Sigismund Lautenburg.[8][19] Rosa Bertens played Tekla, Rudolf Rittner played Adolf, and Josef Jarno played Gustav.[8][19] It ran for 71 performances.[19] At the end of March 1893, the production was invited for a gala performance in Vienna.[19] In 1895, the Freie Bühne staged a private performance in Munich.[8] In 1898, it was staged at the Schauspielhaus in Munich.[8] In 1899, it was produced in Vienna.[8][20] In the autumn of 1906, a production was staged in Altona.[21] The play was also staged in Essen in the autumn of 1910.[22] Another production was staged in Vienna in 1910 as part of a season of Strindberg's plays that also included Playing with Fire, Easter, and Christina.[23] Josef Jarno, who had played Gustav in the Berlin première, directed.[23]

Its French première opened on 21 June 1894, in a slightly abridged version at the Théâtre de L'Oeuvre in Paris.[8][24] Aurélien Lugné-Poë directed and played Adolf.[8][24] In response to the production's success, Strindberg wrote of his "sense of power... that in Paris, the intellectual centre of the world, 500 people are sitting in an auditorium silent as mice, stupid enough to expose their brains to my powers of suggestion."[25] Lugné-Poë performed this production in Stockholm in October 1894 as part of his Scandinavian tour.[26] Back in Paris, it was repeated at the Cercle St. Simon theatre on 10 December 1894.[27]

The play was first produced in Britain by the Stage Society at the Prince's Theatre in London, in a translation by Ellie Schleussner, opening on 10 March 1912.[28][29] Miriam Lewis played Tekla, Harcourt Williams played Adolf, and Guy Standing played Gustav.[29][30] It was staged again in London in 1927 and 1952.[8] The 59 Theatre Company staged a translation by Michael Meyer at the Lyric Opera House in London, opening on 3 March 1959.[31] It was directed by Casper Wrede and designed by Malcolm Pride.[31] Mai Zetterling played Tekla, Lyndon Brook played Adolf, and Michael Gough played Gustav.[31] The play was also staged at the Open Space Theatre in London, opening on 22 March 1972.[8] This production was directed by Roger Swaine.[8] Gemma Jones played Tekla, Sebastian Graham-Jones played Adolf, and Brian Cox played Gustaf.[8] A production at the Almeida Theatre, which opened on 19 May 1986, was recorded and subsequently broadcast on Channel 4 on 16 March 1988.[32] Suzanne Bertish played Tekla, Jonathan Kent played Adolf, and Ian McDiarmid played Gustaf.[33] This production was directed by its cast members.[33]

The play was produced by the Torquay Company at the Mermaid Theatre in New York, opening on 25 January 1962.[34] Paul Shyre directed and David Johnston designed this production.[34] Rae Allen played Tekla, James Ray played Adolf, and Donald Davis played Gustav.[34] The play was later staged as part of a double-bill with The Stronger by The Public Theater at the Newman Theatre, New York, opening on 15 April 1977.[35] Rip Torn directed and John Wright Stevens designed this production.[35] Geraldine Page played Tekla, John Heard played Adolf, and Rip Torn played Gustav.[35] It was also staged by the Classic Stage Company at its theatre in New York, opening on 27 January 1992.[36] Carey Perloff directed and Donald Eastman designed this production.[36] Caroline Lagerfelt played Tekla, Nestor Serrano played Adolf, and Zach Grenier played Gustav.[36]


  1. ^ Björkman (1913), 183.
  2. ^ Meyer (1985), 197–8.
  3. ^ Meyer (1985), 199.
  4. ^ Meyer (1991b, 115).
  5. ^ Meyer (1985), 200.
  6. ^ Meyer (1991b, 117).
  7. ^ a b c d e Meyer (1991b), 118.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Meyer (1991b, 119).
  9. ^ Meyer (1991b, 120).
  10. ^ Meyer (1985), 235, "Letter to Ola Hansson, 8 March 1891" .
  11. ^ Meyer (1985), 214.
  12. ^ Meyer (1985), 216.
  13. ^ Meyer (1985), 226.
  14. ^ Meyer (1985), 462–3.
  15. ^ a b Meyer (1985), 533.
  16. ^ Meyer (1985, 543).
  17. ^ Meyer (1985, 561).
  18. ^ Meyer (1985, 573).
  19. ^ a b c d Meyer (1985), 263.
  20. ^ Meyer (1985), 402.
  21. ^ Meyer (1985, 472).
  22. ^ Meyer (1985, 545).
  23. ^ a b Meyer (1985), 536.
  24. ^ a b Meyer (1985), 296.
  25. ^ Strindberg (1985), "Letter to Leopold Littmansson", in Meyer, pp. 296–97 .
  26. ^ Meyer (1985, 305).
  27. ^ Meyer (1985, 310).
  28. ^ Carson (1913), 106, 140.
  29. ^ a b Meyer (1985), 564.
  30. ^ Carson (1913), 140.
  31. ^ a b c Meyer (1991a, 124).
  32. ^ Meyer (1991b), 119–20.
  33. ^ a b Meyer (1999b, 120).
  34. ^ a b c The Creditors at the Internet off-Broadway Database.
  35. ^ a b c Creditors, The Stronger at the Internet off-Broadway Database.
  36. ^ a b c Creditors at the Internet off-Broadway Database.


  • Björkman, Edwin, trans. 1913. Creditors. By August Strindberg. In Plays. Second ser. New York: Scribner, 1926. 183-237.
  • Carson, L, ed. (1913), Year Book, London: The Stage, .
  • Meyer, Michael (1987), Strindberg: A Biography, Lives, Oxford: Oxford UP, ISBN 019281995X .
  • Strindberg, Michael, transl (1991a), "Creditors", Plays, Three, London: Methuen, pp. 121–75, ISBN 0413648400 .
  • Meyer, Michael (1991b), Introduction  in Strindberg, August, Plays, Three, London: Methuen, pp. 115–20, ISBN 0413648400 .
  • Ward, John. 1980. The Social and Religious Plays of Strindberg. London: Athlone. ISBN 0485111837.
  • Williams, Raymond. 1952. Drama from Ibsen to Brecht. London: Hogarth, 1993. ISBN 0701207930.

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