The theatre department at the college of Nord-Tröndelag is found next to the tall, red building to the left of the picture’s center. This is small-town Verdal, near Trondheim. The sound of sub-base speakers mounted in the passing cars break the silence.
I was invited by play-write/director Nina Wester to give a workshop for the third-year acting students. The topic, gender aware acting, was to inspire the group in Nina’s direction of Ibsens’s “Peer Gynt”. This was in June 2010.
I just returned to Verdal for the premiere of the production, now called “Vem er Peer?” (Who’s Peer?) and was pleased to meet Nina and the lovely students again. I was happy to learn that the hard working staff (who’s high ambition is what made this school happen in the first place) was interested in my future return to their school. It seems development of gender- and norm critical thinking in the field of theatre is not so devloped in Norway. But things are changing.
The day after the premiere, the school had arranged a seminar about how artistic choices are made at the theatres in Norway. Directors, actors and dramaturges discussed how things work with norms and traditions in casting and which texts to play, etc. It was a refreshing and inspiring time.
And the play? Well, it was difficult to follow the text in various Norwegian dialects, so I didn’t quite get the meaning of many things, but there were several interesting individual scenes. There were many references to present-day events and there seemed to be a political drive through the production. This seems to be quite unusual and had a refreshing effect.
However, as this was much of an ensemble piece, with a strong directorial concept, I didn’t feel I got to see a lot of the acting skills I know the group have. There was a lot of energy and complicité in the ensemble, but few scenes with grounded actors in emotionally engaging situations. The few that were there had a nice effect.