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 Writer and the Refugee (English edition, Amazon 2019).
“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
- 2019 Marty’s Shadow. TV film (70 min) Available on vimeo https://vimeo.com/289785962 pw MS, USA. Directed by Whitney Gail Aronson and Dan Levy Dagerman.
- 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.
- Other Swedish productions include Göteborgs Stadsteater 1948, Riksteatern 1949; Borås kretsteater 1955; Uppsala Stadsteater 1956.
Award-winning The Making of a Man (50 min), 2019, with scenes from the play tells the the origin of Marty’s Shadow, and explores themes of young manhood. By Lo Dagerman. Available on vimeo https://vimeo.com/350060032 pw MM
Editions and 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.