Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) is one of the most famous and influential directors in the history of film. From the age of 9, when he acquired an old magic lantern, he was also a stage director and playwright. His first stage was his own private miniature one, at home, whose scenery and lighting were self-designed and whose actors were marionettes, performing Strindberg plays in which he spoke all the parts himself.
At the age of 19, he entered Stockholm University to study art and literature, but spent most of his time there in student theatre and developing his writing, and became an assistant director at a theater, directing one of his own scripts, Caspar’s Death, which was seen by the Svensk Filmindustri - his big break into film.
At age 26, the year in which he wrote his first screenplay, “Torment”, he became the youngest theatre manager in Europe at the Helsingborg city theatre. He moved to the Gothenburg city theatre from 1946 to 1949 and directed Malmö city theater for seven years from 1953. Many of the stars of his films began working with Bergman on the stage, and a number of actors in the “Bergman troupe” of his 1960s films came from Malmö‘s city theatre (including Max von Sydow). He was the director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm - from 1960 to 1966 and manager from 1963 to 1966.
He left Sweden in the 1970s following an accusation of tax evasion (which proved to be unfounded) by the Swedish authorities, and directed the Residenz Theatre in Munich from 1977 to 1984. He remained active in theatre throughout his life, having returned to Sweden after an eight-year absence, his final production was Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in 2002.
Strindberg, Ibsen, Shakespeare and Moliere were the pillars of Bergman’s work in the theatre and they inevtiably influenced his own works. Whether for film or theatre, they are deeply personal and address universal human concerns in a profoundly thoughtful and questioning way. Stage versions of a number of the films have already been successfully made and more will certainly follow. As he wrote and directed his films, Bergman in fact conceived his screenplays as plays to be filmed, and they require little or no adaptation - merely translation - for performance in the theatre.