Mary Magdalene

Ylva Ekblad som Maria Magdalena i Johan Fagerudds uppsättning 2006.

Ever since I was a young girl I have been fascinated by Mary Magdalene. I loved the ring of her name. I loved her long beautiful hair. I loved her passionate personality. And I felt a secret companionship with her abundant crying, since I was very prone to tears myself and much ashamed of this.

In 1996 I was asked to write a play to be presented at a women’s conference – Kvinnor Kan/Women’s Knowhow - in my hometown Karlskrona. I immediately thought of my companion of old, Mary Magdalene. I wanted her to appear in the most beautiful of all buildings in my hometown: Holy Trinity Church, a huge round church similar to the Pantheon in Rome with its grandiose cupola. So be it! In May 1996 Mary of Magdala, beautifully interpreted by Mary Lou Ward and accompanied by musician Martina Svanberg on guitar and djembe drum, danced her way into the hearts of all the women at the conference.

After that the play went on tour for three years in southern Sweden, always cherished and loved by the audience.

In 2006 Mary Magdalene was staged in Finland where it aroused a huge debate on the role of women in the Church. What triggered this debate was the decision taken by a local vicar not to let the play be performed inside a Church. He had not read the text of the play but somehow the very figure of Mary Magdalene seemed to evoke his premonitions. His decision to ban her from the Church room was backed up by the bishop of the parish in question. This was of course excellent PR for the performance. The first night – at a youth centre – was immediately sold out. Then Mary Magdalene went on a tour for a whole year all through Finland and over 10 000 persons saw it.

Read extract of the play Mary Magdalene: