Actor and director play house in the black box, becoming Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann as they rehearse and rehash the 1973 Swedish television series Scenes from a Marriage. The show, infamous for causing a spike in divorce rates in Sweden the year of its airing, follows the dissolution and reconfiguration of one couple’s relationship. Drawing on this source material, and adding to it the fact of Bergman and Ullmann’s romantic involvement, which ended prior to their working together on the program.
Scenes from Scenes from a Marriage wonders exactly what happens when we direct and perform for two audiences at once. Is it fidelity or fiction, fair use or infringement?With frustration and familiarity, the actor and director move between scenes from three different overlapping and (to varying degrees) fictional domestic lives–their own, that of Ullmann and Bergman, and that of Johan and Marianne, the central characters in Scenes From a Marriage. The director subjects his actor, (acting as Ullmann acting as Marianne), to the disembodied repetition of an absent Johan’s pre-recorded lines, demanding a proper performance to complete the scene he has imagined. The actor, in turn, refuses to take all the direction she is offered, driving the two to renegotiate the terms of engagement in the presence of their audience. Throughout, they wonder whether it is permissible, or even ethical, to use what they have taken–from the mouths of Johan and Marianne, from the lives of Bergman and Ullman, and from what they know of each other.
Andrew Starner and Lindsay Goss are Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann. Also featuring the voice of Patrick Harrison. Original music composed and performed live by Peter Bussigel.
scenes from scenes from a marriage