In August 2017, rehearsals start with this trio of actors (above), and the composer Signe Høirup Wille-Jorgensen at Københavns Musikteater. The play is named Paranoid Android – Fængselssange, written by the Swedish dramatist Kristian Hallberg. I can’t wait to get started!
I was asked to do a talk about my training and career in the field of performing arts, for the theatre- and film students at Sigtuna Folkhögskola (community college), just north of Stockholm.
First of all, we established that all of the aproxiamtely 40 people in the room, except one, had seen me on TV as the character “Henrik” in the Vintergatan series. So I had to talk about that. (And pose for pics afterwards…)
I also touched on my route to theatre, from high-school, to getting a role in a TV drama as an 18 year old, which paid for my six months in Vancouver where I auditioned for the acting programme at SFU, etc, etc… As a teenager, I didn’t know there was such a thing as Teaterhögskolan, or that there were theatre programmes at community colleges. Young people do need insights into the various ways to a career on stage or behind it, to better know what is possible and right for them.
I spoke about my years doing expeditions to areas of crisis, with Clowns without Borders, and I spoke about the important “Gender on stage” project I was part of, at the four theatre academies in Sweden.
Inspiration went both ways, I hope!
I co-directed Forced Entertainment‘s “De omöjliga möjligheternas hus” for the Swedish National Touring Company, Riksteatern, with the smart, very funny and talented actors Ana Stanisiç and Linn Grøder Bjørnvik.
Forced Entertainment is a Brittish performance group, founded some 30 years ago by a group of friends from university, relocating to the industrial city of Sheffield. The group is and has been hyped in continental Europe for several years, and has meant a lot for the development of performing arts, with it’s own take on performance, anti-theatre, and comments on the theatre tradition. They have their own style.
The big challenge for us at Riksteatern was to translate that style, developed by a specific group of individuals over a period of 30 years, to something our actors could perform, in a way that kept the attention of our 6-9 year olds in the audience. With great guidance from FE’s Terry O’Connor and their collaborator, the lovely director and clown Pascale Petralia from Belgium, we found our own version, not too different from the original.
It was such a joy to be allowed into an already existing artistic universe, with a magic room, projections and a music score already in place. And it was beautiful to see how the young audiences were pulled into the fiction, the fairy tale; how they responded to our suggestions of imagination; how they wanted to play.
Edward Bond’s play “The Bundle” has not been performed in Sweden since the late 70’s. As an acting student in Vancouver in 1991, I worked on a monologue from the play (“Ha! Tiger!”), and then happened to see a production of it Off-off-Broadway in the mid 90’s. When I, a decade later, stumbled upon a copy of the play in a book store in London, I realized it would be a great text to work on with a group of acting students. When I was teaching at The Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, I asked some students to do a reading of the play with me. We agreed it was exciting, and I later contacted my Alma Mater in Malmö, to do a Brecht-inspired project with them, using the play.
In the spring of 2016, 25 years after my first encounter with “The Bundle” I taught and directed a lovely group of students, at the Theatre Academy in Malmö, with great help from the regular teachers at the acting programme. A seven week process led to performing most of the scenes, with it’s 20-something characters, involved in fighting the land-owner, the emperor and the flooding river; doing revolution.
Between jobs, I decided to go to London-New York-Panama-Costa Rica-Mexico-New York. The first part of the journey was partly focused on seeing performing arts and creating connections with fellow artists. (It was partly focused on enjoying the gay scene…)
In London, I saw the musicals “Kinky boots” (soon in Sweden) and “Wicked”, which both had a nice feminist touch, and a “queer-light” content. I saw the play “The curious incident of the dog in the night”, about a highly functioning boy with autism (like my uncle, Carl Brunskog), and the queer cabaret at Old Vauxhall Tavern, featuring my friend Lasana Shabaz, in black-face, commenting on the lack of awareness around racism in the queer community. I had the pleasure of hanging out with radio producer/director Tove Jonstoij and Ingo of the Wotever Universe.
In New York City I saw the musicals “Fun Home”, based on Alison Bechdel’s (of the Bechdel test you know?) graphic novel, and it brought me to tears and gave me shivers of pride and joy. I also Loved “The color purple”, a Broadway hit and African-American lesbian epic, with astonishing performances by not least Cynthia Erivo as Celie, upstaging Jennifer Hudson (the star of Dreamgirls, the movie). At Joe’s Pub, at The Public Theatre, I witnessed an historical event, as I saw an astounding line-up of hero-performers, in “Punk Kabarett International”. You gotta check the link. Stew & Heidi performed a song I since carry with me, Saluting both the recently passed David Bowie, and James Baldwin (JB), who’s collected poems I had bought as a gift to Lasana, the week before. Hear Stew sing it here, filmed by me. I also had the immense pleasure of hanging out with singer Electra E. Weston, queer arts specialist Kalle Westerling (PhD), play-write Greta Sundberg, opera director Mårten Forslund, dancer William Briscoe and performance artist Myles Johnson, and others! Oh, and Kalle and I visited the marvellous NGO The Door, where we shared our experiences of Kunq with their Arts supervisor, the lovely Jadrian Ellison. The Door runs a lgbtq youth theatre group, as part of their program, and got some humble advice from a couple of veterans.
Then, I went to Panamá, from where I write this post.
The natural force of Electra.
Kalle W., all grown up.
This is where I stayed on a sweltering hot summer in the 90’s. Just subtract some gentrification and snow. 2nd Ave.
Stew. performing at Joe’s Pub.
In December 2015, my job as Artistic Director of Regionteater Väst, is done. My original contract was for two years. Including the soft start in the spring of 2013, and the prolonged contract to December, I will have worked for RTV for almost three years, responsible for taking 15 productions to premiere during a three year period.
As a child, living in Stockholm, has entered into my life since I moved west, it is important to go back east.
Here are links to Flugo! (or Drömställe, the original title in Swedish), a show I directed for Clowner utan Gränser, together with the lovely cast. The show was selected to the prominent Swedish biannual festival for children, bibu.se, and the showcase Swedstage. In June 2015 it opens the Austrian festival Shaexpir, in Linz. (http://schaexpir.at)
Ja, ryktena talar sant, jag har fått tjänsten som Konstnärlig Ledare för Regionteater Väst i Uddevalla!
Tjänsten är på två år, med möjlighet till förlängning och jag börjar i augusti 2013.
Teatern turnérar i Västra Götaland, ett område stort som Nederländerna, och målgruppen är barn från 6-15 år.
Jag är jätteglad, smått överväldigad och huvudet snurrar av idéer. De senaste åren har jag börjat längta mer och mer till institutionsteaterns värld, efter många år i det s.k. fria kulturlivet. Jag längtar efter den fokusering på teatern, konstformen, som ett väl fungerande teaterhus erbjuder och jag längtar efter att arbeta med andra teaternördar/-specialister. Det finns kort sagt mycket jag längtar till, som jag ser erbjuds mig på RTV!
Men först ska jag lyssna och lära och lära känna och sen kan arbetet starta på riktigt.
Nu ska jag till Södra Teatern och se Riksteaterns “Brun utan sol”! Glad.
A simple clown-show, to be performed in camps and sites for Syrian refugees in Jordan, created by the clowns P. Nalle Laanela, Stacey Sacks and Rupesh Tillu. I help out.
We leave next week, for ten days of shows, for thousands of children.
Thanks to Dansens Hus in Stockholm and Teater Sláva in Huddinge, for helping us with rehearsal spaces!