- Hag-seed


by Margaret Atwood

June, 2019

I’ve simultaneously read and listened to an audio version, of the novel Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. Main character is Felix Phillips, a famous artistic actor and theatre director. Felix is a very hardworking man and dedicated to the importance and impact of art and theatre in culture, so he is naïvely not noticing that conspiring things happen behind his back, and he had had several personal crises, first losing his wife, who died of a galloping staph infection right after the birth of their daughter, Miranda, who then died in meningitis at the age of three.

During the preparations and arrangements of the play The Tempest by Shakespeare, Felix is outmanoeuvred by his opponent and companion Tony, and then fired. Always accompanied with the soul of his beloved lost daughter Miranda at his side, he drove his car out in the middle of nowhere, in some kind of back yard white trash area of Canada, he settles himself in “exile” in 12 years, before he in revenge returns as an art teacher, giving classes at a prison. He begins teaching the prisoners behind bars in the art of acting and theatre and stage techniques, performing different Shakespeare plays. All ends up with the set of his former interrupted play The Tempest, where he in a very subtle way get his revenge.

The Atwood story is an amazing parallel process between the prison, the exile, the revenge, forgiveness and the different scenes in the play. The additional parallel interpretations of The Tempest given by the prisoners is just fascinating. Perfectly read, not leaving a single word, Robert Holmes Thomson gives an extra and perhaps further parallel version of the novel and The Play, his readings and theatrical interpretations is sometimes just breath-taking and astonishing!

In Sweden, The Tempest, and through Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.17 in D minor, August Strindberg in 1907 was inspired in his play "Spöksonaten" where he (Strindberg) thought he heard mysterious voices within the music of Beethoven – just as Margaret Atwood let Felix hear his daughter around himself anywhere, and simultaneously interact in the play as Miranda the daughter of Prospero (Felix) who by Antonio (Tony) were banished on the distant island. It is heart-breaking how Margaret Atwood let the dancer and actress, Anne-Marie Greenland, in the name of Miranda, the castaway young girl, transform this patriarchal prison.

Make shi weg
Make she weg
Make her way
She is on her way
… has gone
She is on the road
… has risen
… is born
She is free
To the elements to be free
And, finally, she is.

Makeshiweg är den fiktiva ort/stad i Canada med den årliga teaterfestivalen, där huvudpersonen Felix Phillips således planerar en uppsättning av The Tempest. En anspelning är förstås pjäsens Milano. Romanen avslutas med orden: "To the elements be free, he says to her. And, finally, she is."