When Bergman and I had last met, in 1996, during the opening in Stockholm of “The Bacchae,” Bergman compared his theatre work to carpentry, and said he was eager to lay down his tools. He thought the play would be his farewell to the theatre. (He had bid adieu to filmmaking more than ten years earlier, after his Academy Award-winning “Fanny and Alexander.”) He was looking forward to Fårö’s solitude. He does not like noise—“Quiet” signs are posted around the Dramaten when he’s at work. He does not like lateness: he positions himself outside the rehearsal hall at ten each morning in case the cast wants to fraternize, and rehearsals begin promptly at ten-thirty; lunch is at twelve-forty-five; work finishes at three-thirty. He does not like meeting new people or people in large groups. He does not like surprises of any kind. “When I’m in Stockholm, I’m longing every day for that island—for the sea, for nature,” he told me. “To listen to music. To write. To write without deadlines. When he was my age, my father—he was a clergyman—relearned Hebrew with a friend. They read Hebrew and wrote to each other in Hebrew. There are so many books I want to read. Difficult books. That’s what I intend to do and what I’m longing for."
The New Yorker, May 31, 1999