December 6 to 16, 2017 - Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street
Presented by August Strindberg Repertory Theatre in association with Theater Resources Unlimited

Pilar Garcia as Tomte, Mary Tierney as Christmas Angel.
Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Even people familiar with August Strindberg may be surprised to learn that he wrote plays for children. The best example is "The Black Glove," the fifth (and least performed) of his Chamber Plays. Its place in history has been obscured by a historical fluke: it premiered in 1911, after the close of Strindberg's Intimate Theater, which it was written for. This kept it out of many anthologies. August Strindberg Rep presented it at Gene Frankel Theatre in the New York premiere of a verse translation by Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey, directed by Robert Greer. The piece was recommended for audiences age 8 and up and special family plans were offered.

In Strindberg's lyrical fantasy, a lost black glove found in the entryway to a large apartment building the day before Christmas Eve mystically passes through the hands of many of its residents as it bestows a Christmas spirit.  The glove belongs to a young wife who has been mistreating her servants and who is known as "too rich for her own good." She has wrongly accused her maid of stealing the ring, but in actuality it is lodged in the glove. Trouble is, there are only two characters who know this: a Tomte (a mythological elf from Nordic folklore typically associated with the winter solstice and Christmas season) and the Christmas Angel. The angel commands the Tomte to take away the young wife's baby daughter in order to teach the wife a lesson about "what it feels like to lose something," promising to restore the baby as a Christmas gift. In the course of the play, the wife learns humility and discovers her lost father.

The play was acted by a cast of six women, in the British Travesty tradition of the late 1800s (in which Sarah Bernhardt played Hamlet, etc.), in order to ensure that the play would be children-friendly. The set was minimal because the primary visuals were projected graphics by Donna Miskend, a children's book illustrator. The actors were Amber Jean Crawford, Crystal Edn, Amy Fulgham, Pilar Garcia, Diane Perell, Mary Tierney and Jo Vetter. Projection design was by Donna Miskend. Costume design was by Janet Mervin. Lighting design was by Gilbert Pearto. Sound design was by Giovanni Villari. Stage Manager was Charles Casano.

Strindberg wrote the playscript partly in verse (iambic unrhymed) mixed with prose sequences. The translation by Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey rendered his lyrical passages in English verse whenever practicable. Strindberg often concludes a scene with rhymed couplets or four rhymed lines and this is followed in the transltion. Ms. Harvey's translation had only been produced once to-date: by The August Strindberg Society of Los Angeles (TASSLA) at The Norwegian Seamen's Church in San Pedro December 18-19, 2011.

"The production centers on the lost object of the title, which seems to confer the season’s spirit on anyone who finds it. Its original owner, however, has none of that warmth. A mean-spirited, wealthy young mother, she thinks that her maid has stolen her ring, which is actually inside the missing glove. A tomte, similar to an elf, conspires with the Christmas Angel to teach the woman a lesson. Points are scored, but this being a holiday entertainment, she ends up more like Scrooge than like Miss Julie." -- NY Times, Events for Children in NYC This Week by Laurel Graeber


"August Strindberg’s 'The Black Glove' Is a Cheerfully Morose Antidote to the Holiday Spirit" -- Village Voice, Dan Calllahan