Marty's Shadow (Skuggan av Mart)

Marty's Shadow (Skuggan av Mart). 1948.

A young man buckles under the shadow of his older brother—a fallen war hero. Their mother worships her heroic son, while treating her other son with disdain. Dagerman drew inspiration for the characters on the Viennese-Jewish writer Etta Federn, whom he met in Paris 1947, and her two sons. Federn and her oldest son had been active against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, and he later died as a leader in the French resistance against the Nazis. Passionate and proud, his mother wrote a book-length manuscript about him. Based on Dagerman's discussions with her, he penned an essay titled "Capitaine Jean in memoriam" (1948). But it is in his meeting with her surviving son—an anti-hero: bookish, near-sighted and anxious, not unlike Dagerman himself—that he is driven to write his play about a son's rebellion. A rebellion that ends in a shocking murder.

Marty's Shadow was first staged at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm in 1948. It is the Dagerman play that is the most widely performed in Sweden and abroad.

Lo Dagerman and Nancy Pick, an American relative of the Federn family, have written a book about the genesis of the play and their search for answers as to what really happened in the meeting between Stig and Etta: The Shadows We Carry (Norstedts, Sweden 2017; French edition 2018; American edition TBA).

"When people die their shadows linger - they terrify, haunt or kill us. When we look up, we see them projected onto the walls. The only way out is to turn off the light."

—Stig Dagerman, Marty's Shadow, program, Dramaten, 1948

Performances

Photo of Margaretha Krook in Skuggan av Mart, Swedish TV 1983. Margaretha Krook in Skuggan av Mart, Swedish TV 1983.

2017
Marty's Shadow. Whitney Gail Aronson, Director. The August Strindberg Repertory Theater of New York.
2015
Marty's Shadow. Reading. Robert Greer, Director. The August Strindberg Repertory Theater of New York.
2012
In Greek. Christos Karchadakis, Director. Latsia Municipal Theatre, Cyprus.
2004
L'ombre de Mart. Jacques Osinski, Director. Theatre de l'aquarium/La Cartoucherie, Paris, France.
2003
L'ombre de Mart. Compagnie la Vitrine, Coms La Ville, France.
1999
A sombra de Mart. Jorge Esteves, Director. Teatro da Cornucopia. Lisboa, Portugal.
1983
Skuggan av Mart. TV film (75 min), Sweden. Directed by Kurt-Olof Sundström.
1966
Skuggan av Mart. TV film (80 min), Sweden. Directed by Johan Bergenstråhle.
1963
The Shadow of Mart. BBC Sunday-Night Play TV film (60 min), England. Directed by Waris Hussein.
1962
De schaduw van Mart. TV film VARA, The Netherlands. Theun Lammertse, Translator and Director.
1960
Skyggen av Mart. Directed by Gerda Ring. National Theatret, Oslo, Norway.
1952
The Shadow of Mart. Directed by D. Bannard Cogley, The Studio Theatre Club, Dublin, Ireland.
1948
Skuggan av Mart. Directed by Göran Gentele. The Royal Dramatic Theater, Stockholm.

Portuguese program cover of The Shadow of Mart.

Other Swedish productions include Göteborgs Stadsteater 1948, Riksteatern 1949; Borås kretsteater 1955; Uppsala Stadsteater 1956.

Editions & Translations

  • Swedish: Dramer om dömda, 1948. Teater 1, 1983 (Norstedts).
  • English: Marty's Shadow, American-English translation by Nancy Pick and Lo Dagerman, 2017 (Amazon)

Translations exist in several other languages, among them Norwegian, Dutch, French, Greek, and Portuguese.