Showing posts with label theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theatre. Show all posts

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Abrahams Barn / The Children of Abraham

Last Sunday I went to see the show Abrahams Barn  (Children of Abraham) created by Svein Tindberg and directed by Kjetil Bang-Hansen. The only person on stage is Svein Tindberg. It's basically a 2 hour-long monologue, and it's amazing. Through stories, anectdotes, facts and humor, he  tells us about the origins of the three religions Juadism, Christianism and Islam, and how all three religions claim Abraham as their founding father. What Tindberg does during these hours on stage, is painting a picture where we get to see that there are so many common references, so many stories and legends which are the same, just told in different ways. He asks questions, wonders why the need to fight and to kill, when we really all are... the children of Abraham. 

Svein Tindberg builds bridges with this play. Bridges across the abysses of ignorance, fear and prejudice. I learned a lot, and had lots of "lightbulb moments". 

The show has been played for months in Oslo (Det Norske Teatret), and now it has started touring Norway with Riksteatret. Everybody should see this. And everybody should talk about it, tell people about it, especially their children. The world needs this kind of input.  The world needs people like Svein Tindberg.
Thank you!

All photos: Dag Jenssen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bivrfrost by Frikar / Dance Show

Yesterday I went to see a dance show, Bivfrost, with my 13-year-old son.  Frikar, a Norwegian dance company has created a fairytale about how to deal with racism and the fear of the unknown. Traditional Norwegian folk dance, lausdans, is combined with elements from break dance and Asian martial arts, and the result is both extremely impressing and very beautiful to watch, sometimes even funny.
"Bivrfrost" was, in the ancient Norse religion, a bridge that went from Åsgard (where the gods lived) to "Midgard" (where the humans lived). It was impossible for humans to enter the bridge, since the placement of it was constantly and magically changed.

This show is inspired by this.  The king promises the princess and one half of the kingdom to the one who can build a bridge between the two rivalizing cultures, make them unite.
This fairytale of a dance performance is made and directed by Frikar founder Halgrim Hansegård, and it is a co-production with Teater Innlandet, a regional theater company. For those who are in Norway, it is still possible to see it for a few more days, for instance in Hamar.

A little video presentation of the show:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Lady from the Sea / Fruen fra Havet

A couple of weeks ago I saw this play in our local theater: The Lady from the Sea (Fruen fra Havet) by Henrik Ibsen. This is one of Ibsen's lesser-known plays, and not so much shown as A Doll's House (Et Dukkehjem) or Ghost (Gengangere). 

We are in a little town deep within a fjord on (probably) the north-west coast of Norway.  There, in this narrow valley,  between steep mountains that only let you see a little piece of the sky, we meet Ellida, her husband: Doctor Wangel, and his grown daughters from a previous marriage Bolette and Hilde. 
Ellida is not happy.  She is constantly longing for the openness of the seashore, and she has never felt fully included in this family. She also carries with her the memory of another man, to whom she promised to be faithful many years ago. One day this man arrives at her doorstep, and she will have to make a choice: Leave her husband, or stay...

The play is all about love, and it is about having a purpose to your existence. It is also about choosing, trying to do what's right, about choices made out of fear and dreams of a different life...

It's really amazing that this play was written in 1888. Ibsen surely was ahead of his contemporary Norway, and today we can appreciate the everlasting relevance of his work.

Photo: Erik Berg

Photo: Erik Berg

Photo: Erik Berg

This performance was by Riksteatret, which is a state owned theater company who tours Norway. They have a handful of plays every season, and they travel to many small towns (like my own) and even to the countryside, where there is no institutional theater.  The plays are set up in movie theaters or community halls.  Every year there is a new cast of professional Norwegian actors joining the company.
The Lady of the Sea is directed by Anne-Karen Hytten, and the lead actors are Marianne Nielsen and Lasse Kolsrud. See here for full cast and information.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Outdoor Play / Hakkebakkeskogen

This week a good friend of mine visited with her daughters, and we went to see an outdoor play: Hakkebakkeskogen. The play is written by Thorbjørn Egner, one of Norways most known children's authors. The story is about a group of animals who decide to take action to stop the "eating of one another", so that everybody can live in peace and be safe.
It was published as a children's book in 1955, and it has been read and played over and over ever since. In our small town, it has become a summer tradition to perform this play in the city park, and it's a huge hit.  It's a "wandering" show, which means that spectators move to a new spot in the park for every scene. This creates lots of suspense and fun for the kids, who rush after the actors to be on the front row.
Gjøvik Sommerteater, with its producer/director, musician and actors, do a great job.  They have slightly changed the text to suit the local dialect, and there is lots of humor that only the adult spectators understand... Kids and grown-ups have a fun time! And, even if it rains, it doesn't matter, because it's summer, it's warm, and as Norwegians, we dress accordingly to weather :-)
Jeg hadde nettopp besøk av en god venninne og døtrene hennes.  Vi fikk med oss Hakkebakkeskogen på Gjøvik Gård, noe jeg vil anbefale til alle som har mulighet. Thorbjørn Egners historie om dyra som bestemmer seg for å få slutt på "at man spiser hverandre". Det lages en lov som gjør at alle kan leve i fred og være trygge. 
Stykket spilles to ganger om dagen til og med 1. juli. Forestillingen er lagt opp som et vandreteater, hvor vi flytter oss til stadig nye steder i parken. Både barn og voksne har det gøy, for her er replikker og humor lagt på flere nivå!
Se Gjøvik Sommerteater for mer informasjon.

The baker - hare and his apprentice 
Bakermester Harepus (Leif Anders Wenzel) og bakergutten (Janka Stensvold Henriksen) 

The mean fox 
Mikkel Rev (Marianne Steinsrud)

Grandma Mouse  
Bestemor skogmus (Hans Esben Gihle) 

Grandma Mouse (with the hat on)
Bestemor Skogmus (med hatten på)

Kids enjoying the show!

Mrs Bear  
Bamsemor ( Linda Renate Lauritzen Fossen)

Everybody rushing to the next scene (Morten Mouse's house)
Alle løper til neste scene (Morten Skogmus' hus)

Mr Bear
Bamsefar (Leif Anders Wenzel)

Lots of fun and suspense!
Dette er gøy, og spennende!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swan Lake - The Russian Way

Two weeks before Christmas, our little town received a visit from the Russian ballet ensemble St. Petersburg State Ballet. It was simply amazing to experience such a world class performance of Swan Lake here in our little theatre.
Wonderful dancers, enchanting backdrops and costumes, and, of course Pyotr Tchaikovsky's beautiful and strong music made the whole thing an unforgettable experience.

Natalya Pothekina danced the roles of Odette and Odile, and Sergey Popov was prince Siegfried.

The story is simple, but thrilling: Odette and the other swans are young girls who only can assume human form at night, because of a spell cast by the evil Rothbart. The only thing that can break this spell is devoted love...  
Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, but then, mistakes Odile, Rothbart's daughter for Odette, and proclaims his love to the wrong girl...  In one version of Swan Lake the whole thing ends in disaster and sorrow, like the version danced by The Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle in 2009.
But in this version,  prince Siegfried fights the evil magician, and the spell is broken.  Love wins.

The Royal Palace

The lake

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Long Day's Journey into Night

went to see a play two nights ago, in Lillehammer.  It was the traveling theatre "Riksteatret" who played "Long Day's Journey into Night" by Eugene O'Neill.  The Norwegian title is "Lang Dags Ferd Mot Natt" .
Wow, what a play.  What a story.  It's about a highly dysfunctional family, hiding dark secrets, not being able to communicate, crippled by drug abuse and alcoholism, sickness, guilt and regrets.

The story itself is very auto-biographical.  O'Neill has put a lot of his own childhood/youth into his writing, as a way of dealing with it, I guess.  He almost killed himself at age 23, but was able to sober up, continue to write, and actually win the Pulizer Price for Drama for "Long Day's Journey...", albeit posthumously.

It's hard being in the audience.  You feel you're in this family's living room, and you feel their pain.  I was actually tired, almost exhausted, when it finished...
This Norwegian version of the drama is played by world famous Liv Ullmann , Bjørn Sundquist, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen and Viktoria Winge.  Direction is by Stein Winge.
The stage is set as a living room, with a color palette in light browns and blues.  This reflects the mood.
"Riksteatret" is a theatre company who is traveling all over Norway, playing in cities, towns and villages, and this play may be their biggest success ever.  All shows are sold out.  They did schedule a couple of extra performances in Oslo and in Stockholm, Sweden, but there is no tickets left.  This is probably the very last time one gets to see Liv Ullmann on stage, so I'm very happy I was able to grab those seats!

Congratulations on an extremely well done drama!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So Long Snow

Last Friday I got to see a local theater performance here in my small town.  "Snøen som falt".  The English title of this co-production between Teater Innlandet and Hetveem Theater (Netherlands) is "So Long Snow." The Norwegian title points to a saying : 'The snow that fell last year', which means all hat is history, gone, 'water under the bridge'.
The show takes place in the future, when winter is just a distant memory of the two characters, working in a weather station.  They remember playing in the snow as kids, but there are no more snow, no more ice.  Winter is probably forgotten by everyone else but these two...
At the weather station where they now work, there is no longer a metereologist, only the projection of one.  In the Norwegian version of the play, Kristen Gislefoss, a nationally known TV weather person,  is the person projected on the wall.  He can also be seen on a photograph on the desk, featuring the two only employees of the station.
It's a strange play, with no real talking.  Lots of things are happening, or rather not happening, for no obvious reason.  The two characters have all kinds of substitutes for snow: Paper shreds, cream topping, sugar cubes...  Strange sounds.  The light goes on and off.  All seats are close to the stage, surrounding it, and we can hear strong sound effects all around us, for instance the crunchy sound of walking in thick snow. 

As I see it, though being strange and 'alternative', it's a nostalgic play.  It may be about the climate crisis too, but it's really about how we try to hold on to what is long gone...

The trailer for the Dutch version of the play:

Direction: Karen Røise Kielland
Actors: Kenneth Homstad and Anne van Dorp (and Kristen Gislefoss)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Four Seasons by Vivaldi - as Ballet!

 I went to see a ballet a couple of days ago, in Oslo, at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.  The performance was The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, choreographed by the Norwegian Jo Strømgren.
It is a ballet like you've never seen before, and Strømgren has interpreted the seasons in his own way, with humour, seriousness and absurdity.  Here you have a concentration camp (fall) and a huge,"living" pig (winter)...  

There are four tableaus, showing different aspects of our time, and of our recent history.  In between these chapters, there are a couple, dancing in front of a curtain made of almanac pages.  They tie the whole performance together, and they observe the different scenes with us, until, in the end, they are alone on the big, darkened stage, with only illuminated, silverly snow falling down around them.

The Norwegian newspaper reviews were not kind to this performance, so, I didn't go there with a whole lot of expectations.  Well, I enjoyed it!  I laughed, I was startled, and I was moved by the beauty of the music and the dance.
Maiko Nishino is divine as the "red thread dancer", and Gilles Berger has done an insane job with the scenography.
Congratulations on a very special  show, and even though the older 'regulars' of the opera/ballet house came with disapproving sounds here and there, I loved it, and so did my daughter, who has been taking ballet classes since she was 3.  She has previously seen The Nutcracker (at least 3 times) and Swan Lake, and she was amazed over how different this was.  She was so excited from the show, that she literally danced while walking to the train station that night.

For more information about this production, click here.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Phantom of The Opera

I spent last weekend in London with a very good friend of mine.  We had two full days to ourselves, just talking, walking, enjoying the discovery of a city we both have been to many years ago, but never together.  Our agenda was totally no-stress, no 'most do' or 'must see', and it was wonderful.

One of the things we did, was a visit in Her Majesty's Theatre, where we attended the afternoon show of The Phantom of the Opera.  From our perfect seats in the stalls, we had a good view of the stage, the actors' faces and the huge chandelier which plays a central role...  Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is strong and holds up, even after 24 years of being played over and over again,  and the orchestra did a wonderful job, as did the actors/singers.

The story of the phantom, or the ghost of the opera, was first written by the French writer/journalist Gaston Leroux in 1911: "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra". The story takes place in the old opera house of Paris: Palais Garnier. The first movie, by Universal, came in 1925, and since then, the legend has just continued to live on. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical from 1986 was later turned into a movie, with the exact same score as on scene.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Winner Takes it All...

I saw the Norwegian version of the success musical Mamma Mia in Oslo this weekend.  My oldest daughter and I.  It has been running since this spring, and we caught it in the very last few weeks.  We had great seats, and I think that is a must when you attend a live show.  Seats cost more less the same, no matter where they are, and even if you can save a little on less-than-perfect seating, I would never do that.  And, with a good overall view of the stage and close enough to see facial expressions, we could lean back and just enjoy.
Well-known songs, good singing, dancing and acting performances all mixed with a cute story makes for great entertainment.

I was worried that a Norwegian translation of ABBA's songs would sound strange and awkward, but it didn't.  Ingrid Bjørnov and Linn Skåber did the translation . Both song lyrics and dialogs were well written, and they even used different Norwegian dialects.  Bill's caracter, named Arne Svart, played by Paul Ottar Haga, was extremely funny, and it hit right home with his nordtrøndersk  dialect. (From the area north of Trondheim,) Both he and the rest of the cast did a great job. The two lead roles are played by Heidi Gjermundsen Broch (Donna) and Mari Lerberg Fossum (Sofie)

And, silly as it sounds, I end up crying my eyes out...
First when the mother sings about her daughter growing up too fast,
and then, even worse, when she moves on to "The winner takes it all"...
In the end it was no use trying to stop the flood of tears, and I was happy for the dark and for the crowd of total strangers around me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Doll's House

A week ago I went to see a play:  A Doll's House, (Et Dukkehjem) by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
It was written in 1879, and I believe it is his most famous, still being played regularly, all over the world.
It has been part of the  Norwegian (usually middle) school curriculum for generations.
The plot is this:  Nora Helmer is married to Torvald Helmer, and they have three children.  Nora seems happy and carefree as a little doll in the doll's house, but we soon learn that appearences can be deceiving.  She decides to leave her family, simply because she can't do otherwise.

Ibsen attacks the 19th century's marriage norms, where wives were supposed to be sweet, little things, without opinions or even thoughts.
He depicts the Helmer's home as a doll's house, where Nora is Torvald's doll, and the children are hers.
There has never been any real  contact between the spouses, and the way he his calling her "bird", "squirrel" etc. enforces that picture.  He is never really listening to her!

What Nora does in the end of the play, is outrageous, seen from the time the play was written.   She is acting in a way that is unheard, and by leaving, she also sacrifices every right to her own children, as it was by law at that time...

I don't see this as an endorsement for divorce, but rather a statement about the importance of a human being's right to be respected and the need for us all to have a real connection in our life.

The version I saw last week was by Riksteatret, which is a state owned theater company who tours Norway.  They have a handful of plays every season, and they travel to many small towns (like my own) and even to the countryside, where there is no institutional theater.  The plays are set up in movie theaters or community halls.  Every year there is a new cast of professional Norwegian actors joining the company.

They were amazing!  The scenography was timeless, but could really have been in  2009,  and they had also done minor adjustments, for instance when there was talk about money.

The actress Ulrikke Hansen Døvigen, as Nora, made us believe in the caracter.  We really understand her, and feel extremely sorry for her.
Torvald Helmer is played by Glenn André Kaada, Dr Rank by Trond Høvig, Mr. Krogstad by Håkon Ramstad, Nora's friend Kristine by Turid Gunnes, and the au pair Maria by Sara Saban.
See here (Norwegian) for the company's own website.

Here is a small transcript, from the play's final scene.  It is late at night Christmas Day, and Nora has announced to her husband that she is leaving.

Nora: I must try and get some sense, Torvald.

Helmer: To desert your home, your husband and your children!  And you don't consider what people will say!

Nora: I cannot consider that at all.  I only know that it is necessary for me.

Helmer: It's shocking.  This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties.

Nora: What do you consider my most sacred duties?

Helmer: Do I need to tell you that?  Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?

Nora: I have other duties just as sacred.

Helmer: That you have not.  What duties could those be?

Nora: Duties to myself.
Helmer: You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you are out of your mind.

Nora: I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.

Helmer: And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake your husband and your children?

Nora: Yes, it is.
Nora: Goodbye, Torvald.  I won't see the little ones.  I know they are in better hands than mine.  As I am now, I can be of no use to them.

Helmer: But some day, Nora, some day?

Nora: How can I tell?  I have no idea what is going to become of me.
Helmer: (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in his hands)  Nora!  Nora! (Looks around and rises.) Empty.  She is gone.
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Swan Lake - Svanesjøen

I saw Swan Lake today, at Pacific Northwest Ballet.  
Tchaikovsky's powerful music, the heartbreaking story, 
and the amazing work of many, many artists made this a beautiful and unforgettable experience.

Jeg så Svanesjøen i dag, på Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle's egen ballett.
Tchaikovskys mektige musikk, den tragiske historien,
og den fantastiske innsatsen fra mange, mange artister,
gjorde dette til en vakker og uforglemmelig opplevelse!