166 Ibsen productions premièred during the calendar year of 2011. The productions were divided between 35 countries. Not surprisingly, A Doll’s House was the most performed on a world basis, and confirms its status in world drama, while Peer Gynt was most played in Norway. 2011 became a varied Ibsen year, and as usual, six continents are represented in Ibsen.net’s survey. USA, Germany and Norway stand out as the leading Ibsen nations. Last year there were 43 Ibsen premieres in USA, 34 in Germany and 17 in Norway.
John Gabriel Borkman, the fourth part of Vegard Vinge and Ida Müller’s Ibsen saga, is now playing at Volksbühne’s Prater Theatre in Berlin by an ensemble of as many as 78 actors. The Wild Duck at Black Box Teater in Oslo in 2010, unquestionably the most outstanding theatre experience yours truly has ever had, forms my personal frame of reference. My expectations are sky-high. This cannot possibly turn out well! I have set aside ample time. I’m over eighteen. I have left delicate emotions at home. I unblock all my senses. But damn it, they can’t do just anything in the name of Henrik Ibsen and the art of theatre, I think, so as to be prepared.
What do the poets Tor Jonsson, Alf Prøysen and Henrik Ibsen have in common? All three of them came to life again in somewhat unfamiliar settings during Skien International Ibsen Conference 2011, Jonsson and Prøysen as penguins in Sahara, Ibsen in the shape of theatre and art projects in Lebanon, Sudan, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The playwright Lennart Lidström won the Norwegian Ibsen Award 2011 for his bittersweet fable about Tor Jonsson and Alf Prøysen, Pingviner i Sahara. The projects "Nora’s Cloth", "Negotiating Ibsen in Southern Africa" and "Orient the Day. Ibsen travels to Lebanon. Two Generations Travel in Ibsen" received the International Ibsen Scholarships 2011. The projects were presented during the conference.
This year’s Skien International Ibsen Conference will take place on 19 and 20 September. The theme of the conference is "Reading and staging Ibsen. Ibsen and contemporary Norwegian drama". Click on the image below for program.
During an international Ibsen seminar in Beijing in May 1995 Dag Solstad enters the podium and claimed that Ibsen hasn’t "had any great significance for me". If he should mention twenty authors whom he especially appreciates, he would probably "have forgotten to mention him" (Solstad 1995b, 437f). When Solstad now turns 70 and we take the opportunity to examine Ibsen references in his collected authorship, we become somewhat puzzled. Among Norwegian contemporary authors, there are, in fact, no one who has entered into such an intimate dialogue with Ibsen as our birthday boy.
The London theatre audience can expect "a cathedral of sound and ritual" this summer, when Emperor & Galilean is staged for the first time in the UK. The National Theatre’s biggest venue, The Olivier, named after British theatre’s leading man and the first director of the National Theatre Lawrence Olivier, is the battle field of Prince Julian’s odyssey through faith and victory, political struggles and personal doubts. Emperor & Galilean in a brand new version premieres in London 15 June.
"Henrik Ibsen up close"
declares the program note from Visjoner Teater (Visions Theatre), whose production of Hedda Gabler premiered on the 12th of May in the newly restored Sæterhytten — the summer mountain cottage[i] — at Dronningberget (The Queen’s Rock) on Bygdøy in Oslo. And that is indeed not far from the case. The drama about Hedda, the General’s daughter, unfolds a matter of centimetres in front of us. We in the audience must constantly pull up our legs, so Jørgen Tesman, in the long-legged figure of Lars Øyno, won’t stumble. Luckily, Hedda (Juni Dahr) shows enough discretion to point the pistol at her temple and shoot herself on the outside of the cottage, or Sæterhytten. If she hadn’t done that, she would have fallen dead into our laps.
As a part of the world’s largest Ibsen collection, the National Library in Oslo can offer as many as 300 titles of and about Ibsen’s works on film and video. This audiovisual material consists of film versions, television theatre productions and recordings of theatre performances on DVD and VHS, together with recorded Ibsen conferences and seminars. The material comes from countries spread across six continents and covers a period of almost one hundred years, from the Swedish silent movie Terje Vigen (1916) to the English production of The Emperor Self (2010).
The collection contains old treasures, but also unknown and more surprising presentations. They are all available to the public in the National Library’s premises.
|When We Dead Awaken in a visual version from Lithuania in 2010, which can be viewed at the National Library’s premises. Photo: Saulius Varnas.|
An actress enters the stage, presenting herself as an actor entering a stage. She utters the opening lines into a microphone. An actor presented as the director enters, hands her a notebook. The actress reads from the notebook, the exact same opening lines which she has just uttered. She shows the notebook to the audience. It is filled with nothing but blank pages.
Tehran, April 2006. The bedroom of 22-year old Sanaz Bayan. A theatre company formed by her is rehearsing the third act of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the confrontation scene between Nora and Torvald towards the end. In Bayan’s version Torvald is beating Nora. The somewhat sadistic neighbour upstairs, a real-life woman beater, has heard the shouting and calls the police. The group is being arrested, accused by the neighbour of engaging in prostitution. Theatre art collides with reality in an absurd and very unpleasant manner. The farce even ends up in court. But the case closes well for Bayan and her theatre group.
The International Ibsen Scholarships will be handed out for the 4th time in 2011. The scholarships are meant to act as incentives for critical discourse in regards to existential and society-related subject matters concerning Henrik Ibsen. Scholarships are applicable to individuals, organizations or institutions within the artistic community. The scholarship funds amount to 1.000.000 NOK (approx. 125.000 Euro / 160.000 US Dollars) and will be awarded to Ibsen-related projects world wide. The application deadline for The International Ibsen Scholarships is 15th April 2011.
Ågot Sendstad as Nora, Nationaltheatret, Oslo. Photo: Gisle Bjørneby
New Delhi presented an Ibsen Festival for the third time in a row. Last year, the city’s theatre audiences were offered five different Ibsen productions. Despite a breakdown in the political dialogue between Norway and China, Ibsen was played ten times more in China in 2010 than in Denmark. In Nanjing only, you could be present at seven Ibsen productions in October. But Oslo is still the undisputed Ibsen capital. In all, ten productions of Ibsen’s plays were presented in Oslo in 2010. In global terms, there were altogether 179 new Ibsen productions during the calendar year. The productions are spread over 39 countries.
Grusomhetens Teater’s (The Theatre of Cruelty’s) production The Mountain Birdhas had successful seasons around the world: in Germany, England, Poland, France and recently in India. The music to the production is written by the composer Filip Sande.
He is now about to compose a full-length opera from the material. We met Filip Sande, who is born in Trondheim, for an interview, and asked him first to explain the following circumstances: Ibsen began The Mountain Bird as a romantic opera in 1859. He contacted the Trondheim composer Martin Andreas Udbye to write the music. But Ibsen never finished the libretto, and the project was shelved. A hundred-and-something years later, the Trondheim composer is reborn in the figure of Filip Sande. He finishes Ibsen’s plan.