Dagerman was early drawn to the theater which "…suited his temperament and his need for masks and disguises. He loved the dramatically poignant, the sudden changes of mood, bold emotions played to their fullest" (Olof Lagerctrantz, p.196). The postwar period was a creative time in Swedish theater and film with big-time director Alf Sjöberg (Miss Julie, Palme d'or 1951 starring Dagerman's second wife Anita Björk) and Ingmar Bergman on the rise. Sjöberg directed Dagerman's first play, The Man Condemned to Death, a drama which has a Kafkaesque feel. It became an instant success. Buyoed by the success, Dagerman completed four more plays, and even made his own directorial debut supported by his close actor/director friend, Bengt Ekerot (best known for playing Death in Bergman's The Seventh Seal).
Dramas of the Condemned (Dramer om dömda)
Volume of two plays, 1948.
A young troubled man buckles under the shadow of his older brother, a fallen war-hero, who is glorified by their mother and the deceased brother's girl-friend. Dagerman drew the characters on the writer Etta Federn and her sons, whom he met while in Paris. Federn's oldest son died while fighting against the Nazis.
- The Man Condemned to Death. Translation by Joan Tate. The Swedish Book Review supplement. UK, 1984.
- The Condemned. Translation by Henry Alexander and Llewellyn Jones. Scandinavian Plays of the Twentieth Century. Third Series. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951.
- Skuggan av Mart/The Shadow of Mart. No known English translation.
Judas Dramas (Judas Dramer)
Volume of two plays, 1949.
Streber (The Climber). No known English translation.
A play about betrayal. A business venture between friends, where one of the partners secretly manipulates outcomes to his own advantage at the expense of the others.
Ingen går fri (The Game of Truth). No known English translation.
Play based on Dagerman's novel A Burnt Child where he explores themes of self-deception and betrayal.
The Day of Judgment (Den yttersta dagen)
Cover of Spanish translation of Skuggan av Mart.
1952, radio play. No known English translation.
This play bears a close relationship to Dagerman's last novel Wedding Worries where he returns to his childhood farm and characters to explore themes of redemption.
"I regard the farming society as my genuine environment, the one I know the best and am forever connected to. The tale of The Day of Judgement is based on my early impressions growing up with my grandparents, most notably my grandfather who so completely was a father figure to me. When he was murdered by an insane man, I began my spiritual awakening and this became the most pivotal event of my youth."
—Interview with GHT, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1952