Theatre Café Webinar Series

The final leg of the Theatre Café Festival Europe 2014 – 2015 has involved making a webinar series chock-a-block with expertise in writing and creating theatre for young audiences.

Check out our in depth interviews with experts from the several EU countries, presented in handy five-to-ten minute chunks!

Most of the videoes are already online at , and the missing few will be uploaded before Christmas.

We hope you find both insight and inspiration!


EU_flag_cult_EN-01With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

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IO_MG_2079 copy

Alongside being artistic director of Imploding Fictions I also do a number of other things. At the moment, one of those things is writing a script. (I won’t tell you any more… It’s all very secret…)

A number of people have been very helpful and kind in answering my research questions, assisting me with translating and proof reading, and in a number of other ways supporting my process. I would like to give credit where credit is due. So to everyone who’s helped out:

Thank you. It is greatly appreciated.

Here is a list of people who have helped me or are currently helping me. I hope I have remembered everyone. (If you are missing off the list, let me know….iagra/.)

Thanks to:

Kristofer Blindheim Grønskag, Stein Hiller Elvestad, Electa Behrens, Amir Mirzai, Gunilla Bergerham, Eva Bäckman, Torgrim Mellum Stene, Philip Thorne, Sammy Metcalfe, iara Solano, Gianluca Iumiento, Foreningen for gresk-norsk samarbeid innenfor kultur og humaniora, Marianne Jonger, Karl-Oskar Stål og Gerd Jorunn Møller Delaveris ved Folkehelseinstituttet, Douglas Draper ved Esperanto Norge, Laureline og Christian Gormsen Démonet, Alicja Ziolko, Guri Sogn Andersen og resten av Marinbiologene på Marinbiobloggen, Bodil Grandhagen ved Oslo Universitetssykehus, Gjermund Stenberg Eriksen, May Helle Teigen, Astrid Liodden og Robert Bø fra Røde Kors

Special thanks to:

Leeanne Stoddart
Anders N. Pedersen

– Øystein


Photo from The Predictions. Photographer: Ida Oppen

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Satellites In The Night Sky – or To Orbit Oneself

Satellites In The Night Sky


To Orbit Oneself

Empathetic Communication Inside A Universe

The European Theatre Encounter Festival 2015


Hello. Hello. Hello…?”

The problem of not being understood or not understanding is a more or less familiar situation for each of us. The feeling of isolation and loneliness are frequent companions. Sometimes even like a black hole in the universe. But what happens if one feels almost never approved, almost never fitting in and almost never loved by others? What if “my words and their words are not the same words?” If we reduce the meaning of the words only their sounds remain. What do these sounds, noises, voices do with us, how do they make us feel and what can they create? Can they really connect us to the inside of ones mind?

The European Theatre Encounter formed the final of a two-year cooperation (2013- 2015), which is called the Theatre Café Europe 2014 – 2015; a project by the London based Company of Angles. The idea of this collaboration between different playwrights, directors and theatres / theatre companies from all over Europe was to exchange dramatic texts of young authors, to spread them and to initiate discussion about these texts. The GRIPS Theatre in Berlin hosted this six day long event.


During this Festival the Norwegian director Øystein Ulsberg Brager homepage (Imploding Fictions) brought up those questions by referring to Kristofer Blindheim Grønskag‘s play Satellites in the Night Sky. Grønskag’s inspiration for dealing with this subject(s) was a video by Mel Baggs, an autistic young woman, who is trying to reveal a social determination of autistic people and a possible questionability of a declaration of the idea of a system of a conventional usage of language.

See the video that inspired Grønskag here:


By finding the voice of Joni, the protagonist of the playwright, by creating new ways of sending and receiving words and their possible meanings, the group of young actresses & actors dived into a new world, her world and broke out of the determination of the ‘conventional system of language’. What happens if I express myself and explore my surrounding in my own language? These very essential questions were presented at the end of this period working intensively and freely with the text.

Apart from the Norwegian workshop (Satellites in the Night Sky by Kristofer Blindheim Grønskag; Øystein Ulsberg Brager / Imploding Fictions), plays from England (Natives by Glenn Waldron; Angela Michaels / Greenwhich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre & Company of Angels), the Netherlands (Clover by Jorieke Abbing; Wieke ten Cakten / De Toneelmakerij) and Germany (Hellfire afternoons by Nolte Decar; Jennifer Breitrück / GRIPS Theater) were discussed and presented.


Your love is like bad medicine…” thunders from the speakers. A drum responds, the noise of two microphones rasping on one another sounds, a short plastic pipe is pulled apart, chimes rings and spherical tones waft from the guitar. Slowly they coat us with their unique mannerism. Be your own rock star. “Bad medicine is what I need…”

What do you speak with?

by Annika Kordes


Annika participated in the European Theatre Encounter as a dramaturg and assistant director for Øystein Ulsberg Brager during the workshop on Satellites in the Night Sky. Thanks for the article, Annika!

Photos from European Theatre Encounter and the Satellites in the Night Sky-workshop: Gudrun Arndt

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Interview with Darren Lerigo

We first met Darren whilst studying theatre directing at London’s Rose Bruford College, where he invited us to take part in his experimental workshopping of A Midsummernight’s Dream. It was immediately clear that here was someone who thrived on creative challenges, and rather than single-mindedly pursuing his own agenda, put his faith in collaboration and the power of ensemble. For A Midsummernight’s Dream he created a fun and exciting atmosphere in which his cast felt encouraged to experiment and take risks. The ability to inspire and motivate people, find creative solutions and think outside the box also characterises his current work as a Garden Designer.

Darren became a close friend and over the years our paths have crossed professionally on several occasions. We staged Darren’s play Flap and Fear in Vienna and Oslo (Winner of Newcomer Award 2010 for best new play in Vienna), and I directed his stand up show This Is Your Government Speaking in Kingston in 2011.

His career may seem eclectic, he’s gone from theatre directing to playwriting to stand up comedy to garden design, yet the passion, commitment, energy and creativity he brings to these different disciplines is consistent.

With his new company Modern Mint he’s found the perfect platform to explore his multiple interests. Modern Mint is a forum for making exciting things happen and currently comprises of Darren’s garden design services, lectures and performances, a lively blog in which he writes engagingly about gardening and ecological sustainability, and an ever expanding online shop for quirky artisanal products.

In the interview below he talks about Modern Mint, his dream garden, an inspiring journey to Japan and plenty more…

For more information about Modern Mint check out:

Oak House 9


I’ve known you as a writer, performer, theatre director and stand up comedian. What brought you to gardening? 

I had always enjoyed working outside, being physically active – 3 days after leaving school I started my first job as a groundworker for a tree surgeon. It was a good job because not only were you making yourself physically strong but you needed to use your brain as well. The word surgeon is important in the job title…

I did this on and off over the next ten years, whenever I needed money after travelling or writing or whatever I was up to. I have memories of some of the trees we took down – a tree of heaven, that I carried from the garden branch by branch and put through the chipper, that I had never seen before and had this evocative name that fired the imagination.

It certainly taught me to work hard, and it was satisfying to see the difference you made each day – every cut meant a different shape to the environment. This was an idea I didn’t see importance in at the time.

So when I started gardening I was not starting completely from scratch. I had an education in what it is like to work outside and with plants, what it is like to change an environment and also an education in how to work with clients – very often they are spending money on something they don’t entirely understand, or even have an interest in, and it is your job to inform them about the possibilities available. I worked for people who were very good at their job, and so confident, so I would watch them literally invite a client to have the work done, rather than demand, tell or sell. It made the work feel less like work, more like an exploration of a craft.

The gardening then took off when I moved back to the UK from Madrid – I had been spending so much time writing, working on a computer in a little room, in an environment that was so different to being in the UK – I loved Madrid, the culture, I really had an amazing experience – but everything was harder, I was working in a language that was not mine, with people who did not share the same reference points. It means you have lots to explore and discuss and share, but it also left me craving something I tried to define as ‘home’ – not necessarily England, but somewhere I could… belong is probably the word.

The vague idea I acted upon when I left Madrid for the UK was that I wanted to learn more about the plants around me – basically, I wanted to be able to recognise and name the green stuff I walked past everyday. Why that was what I wanted to do I can’t tell you, but of course there is the influence of working with trees beforehand.

What I hadn’t realised is how extraordinary the study of plants is – each has a different use, a different need, appeals to humans and insects and other animals in different ways. Each plant also has its own folklore, a story that people have told about it in order to help them relate to it in a significant way.

Luckily it is not a difficult industry to get into, as all you need is a fork and to turn up on time. So I began working with some fantastic gardeners who had years of experience, and were incredibly patient in answering all my questions. Of which there were a lot, often repeated because I could not remember what I was told. It seems daft to me now, but at the beginning I could not see the difference between a geranium leaf and that of alchemilla. For anyone who knows anything about gardening, that is ridiculous. For anyone who knows nothing about gardening, that probably sounded like gobbledy-gook. What’s an alchemilla? Those times were frustrating because you want to learn so fast and there seems so much too learn. There still is! But you have to appreciate we are a generation that didn’t grow up with a particularly strong relationship with plants – we didn’t grow our own, we bought it from a supermarket who flew it to us from somewhere near the equator. So we start naïve.

I also fast forwarded my research by reading constantly about gardens and gardening (I think the last non-gardening related book I read was Death and the Penguin?) and reinvesting the little money I had in buying plants and seeds and working out how to grow them well.

I had not completely committed to this work, but I was doing so much gardening and enjoying it so much that eventually, when an opportunity came to spend a year transforming a large estate from tired, mature garden to something productive, beautiful and fresh, I took out a couple of loans and bought a van (then realised I couldn’t afford the insurance so had to take out another loan just to be able to drive the van) and began my own gardening business. Within 8 months it had taken off and I had a waiting list of clients. Within twelve months I was sub-contracting work and doing less and less gardening because of the amount of organising that needed to be done to help each client with what they needed.

So it really wasn’t a question of planning or of strong influences – I followed something I was intrigued by and earned enough money to pay my rent, eat and continue doing it.

Are there any connections for you between creating a theatre show and designing a garden?

There are similarities yes… both theatre director and garden designer are creative acts, of course, because you are responsible for making something happen. Both are all encompassing trades as well – you cannot just know plants as a garden designer, you must know about materials like stone and wood, know about the environment around you and how it will fit with what you are doing, be able to encourage the gardener who will develop your work, be able to listen to what a client is telling you they want and then react to it… you must know garden history and also be confident enough to develop your own ideas for how gardens could be… as well as balancing resources and organising all of the inputs from different trades that must work together to make a garden as good as it can be. A theatre director has the same job – you must know the play, but also have enough knowledge to communicate effectively with the costume designer, set designer, lighting designer, producer, the person who is marketing the piece… you can quickly find yourself doing very little of the work you actually like, the creative part, or even worse being exhausted by the time you get to that side of it because of all the other demands on your time. So the connection between jobs is quite clear – you must be organised, you must have a wide knowledge rather than a deep one, and you must build your team well and trust them.

It is important to realise that you can be the best director or the best designer in the world, but if you can’t make the work happen then no-one will even know what you can do. Maybe that is what the director or designer are best at? What they study deeper than others? The ability to submerge themsleves into the dream of what can be made, what could be achieved?

Another similarity between the theatre and gardening is that both are an odd way to express an idea – a ‘clunky’ vehicle to express what you want to say, considering the resources needed to make them happen. And then who sees them? A theatre must get people through its doors, while a garden may be enjoyed by its owner and guests only. If you open a garden to the public then the likelihood is that, should people come, they will not see it at its best… like an actor, plants may not be at their best on that particular day, or the rain is coming down, or the slugs have eaten eveything, or perhaps the crowds are too loud or too big making the experience a difficult one… clunky clunky vehicles for sharing an idea…

I often think a comic strip is the best way to engage an audience – you get three panels, can use both words and pictures, and if the idea needs expanding on you are coming back again tomorrow… and the next day… and the next… blogging is good too, as it allows you the chance to unfold an idea over time, as long as you can keep people interested for long enough. Perhaps all gardens should be visited 5 or 6 times a year, at different times of the day, for 20 years?

Or better yet, they should be worked in – by the designer, by the clients. That is what we encourage at Modern Mint – a relationship to develop between client and garden, in effect making ourselves redundant…

The last thing I will say about the connection between theatre and gardening is that gardening is a far more altruistic industry. In the theatre, you make a show and then it disappears. You then often have time waiting for funding or space or whatever before the next piece of work – so when people ask how you’re doing, you often say things like ‘well, I was working at the Royal Court’ or ‘I’ve just finished a tour around the South of England…’ you are constantly holding up the past as a sign of your worth and commitment.

In gardening you are always looking to the future – ‘one day this tree will be bigger than the house’ or ‘next year we will make chutney with all these goosberries’… it is just more hopeful isn’t it?

What kind of gardens are you dreaming about at the moment and what sort of ideas would you like to express through them?

Great question, because the garden you dream about is different to the one you make for a client. I would also be tempted to say the idea you want to express through the garden may not be the idea the garden itself wishes to express!

Your job as a garden designer is to translate the clients wishes – it is again similar to being a playwright who has been commissioned by a theatre to write a play, there is a brief they must meet, while also focusing… or forcing… it through the lens of their own experience. It is not the same play they write for themselves, and send off to the theatre and hope it will be made.

You soon get enough experience, as you work with clients, to know when they are finding it difficult to express what they want. You have to be very keen to listen, pick up the clues, and be able to come back to them with what they want, while also using your own instinct and aptitude for the land you are working on to make it work and make sure it is fun for the gardener to maintain. There is no point organising a space that looks amazing but falls away within 6 months because it is impossible to manage.

I have dreamt of lots of gardens – the more you learn, the more gardens you see, the more books you read – you want to have the specific conditions to work in them all! The famous garden of Derek Jarman – – thrills me every time I read the book, and so I dream of living on the edge of the sea… my star sign is cancerian, so perhaps that is the crab in me, letting the water pass across your feet? =)

I wrote on the Modern Mint blog ages ago about My Garden – – it was a tongue-in-cheek homage to the final chapter of a famous gardening book by garden designer Russell Page, written in the style he uses in the book. I read it now and think – no, the garden I dream of now is far simpler…

The garden I dream of now would be about an acre, stretching out from the back of the house. It would all be surrounded by a hedge of wild roses, hawthorn, hazel, viburnums… There would be a stone terrace right outside the house, with a rectangular pond next to it, to cool the stone on hot days. Perhaps three large Versaille pots would sit on the terrace, with trees in – magnolia, liquidamber… perhaps a fig?

The walls of the house would be cloaked in a suitable climbing plant – with perhaps a rose trained across the door, as if its wide arms were welcoming you inside.

The rest of the land would be treated as a meadow, with paths cut through it to walk through. If any area was naturally damp then a pond would be dug there, as the land is telling us to do it. No point fighting it all, I have done quite enough of that – trying to make a garden into something it doesn’t want to be!

Through the meadow would be planted fruit trees, turning the space into an orchard. There would be at least one mulberry, because they have the most beautiful bark, and even more importantly I have never eaten a mulberry and would love to have my first one picked from a tree I planted… (I hope I like it or that would be disappointing…) Then apples, pears, damsons, greengages, quince, crab apples… perhaps a few nut trees as well? Flowers, grasses and bulbs would be managed below them – editing the plants you don’t want, sowing seeds to introduce those you do – it will be a gentle way to manage the garden, an acre is a lot of work otherwise, so you must switch between allowing what wants to be there to be there and encouraging those who need the help to expand and… bloom.

There would be one more addition to this ‘simple’ garden… :OD

A layer of plant interest between the tall trees and the low grasses and flowers. This layer that lives somewhere in the middle would need a completely different management. It would be box plants, cloud pruned (Buxus – I feel this would sit so magically between the meadow and the trees, and in winter, when covered in frost and shadow, bring a completely new atmosphere to the garden. I love the cloud pruning – we run an ‘organic topiary’ service which works with plants the way a sculptor would with stone – you take away what the plant tells you to take away, don’t force anything on it, then step away and allow it to be what it is – and what it is will change each year as it grows and evolves. It is another fascinating subject and I get so excited by this dream garden when I see it in my minds eye – the flowers in summer below the green, goblet shaped trees, the blossom up high in spring, with the bulbs below, the fruit to be harvested in the autumn amongst the bleaching white grasses… then in winter, a low carpet of green, the dark branches of the leafless fruit trees against a winter sky, and the shining green clouds of box finally having their moment and giving us these shapes that suggest different forms – hmmm, that one is a penguin, or maybe an old fashioned kettle, or maybe, just maybe… – this is the garden I dream about right now, the atmospheres I think of, the ideas changing with seasons from aspiration in spring to idleness in summer, to harvest in Autumn to possibility in winter.

You recently went to Japan, did your visit make you think any differently about gardening, was there anything you found particularly inspiring?

That is a tough question! The thing about Japan is, the whole experience is at odds with the way we think and understand the world, so to understand their gardens is difficult – we just don’t have the cultural references to make sense of it!

The whole trip was spent just trying to soak up and enjoy what was in front of us – the different tastes of the food (the cakes weren’t sweet, the eel they flamed and gave us at the sushi was incredible, then we had gingko nuts threaded on a pine needle, which were magnificent with our beer…) the different sleeping arrangements with the futons, the way the cleaners would bow to the bullet train when it pulled into the station – it is a world we recognise, but are not a part of.

An example, I watched a woman in her 30’s with two friends, and they were playing an arcade game – or more like an amusement you would find at Blackpool pier – you know the one with the claw that comes down and grabs the toy? The woman’s friend won her a … pokemon? or something… (and that is what I mean by recognising the world, rather than being a part of it – i can tell you this toy is an anime character, but i have no idea what or where or who…) and as she took it she gushed with happiness, i mean went absolutely bonkers about how touched she was to be presented this gift… this bit of fluffy teddy bear tut, that her friend had won and then presented to her, was the absolute best thing in her life – but it didn’t seem to be the best thing because of the gesture her friend made – i give you this – it seemed to be the best thing because of what it was – a cuddly toy. The infantilisation of this generation in Japan is then placed next to the signs you see when entering Electric Town in Tokyo – cartoon pictures of old men using their phones to take pictures up women’s skirts, with a note to say BEWARE.

So it is not a case of what Japan taught me, but a case of just letting the experience wash over you.

We visited the famous Japanese garden of Ryoan-ji, dragging ourselves out of bed to leave our ryokan in Kyoto at 6am on a Monday morning to get to the garden before the crowds – just a few buses and a bit of a walk into the unknown on a cold autumn morning… then me knocking on the temple door at ten to eight asking to be let in, just so we could spend some time there before anyone else got there. I think we had about ten minutes alone, but it was absolutely worth it, to know in that moment you are the only people in the world in this incredibly formal, pretty much flowerless space, being able to just sit, shoeless, on the wooden verandah and have silence around you.

I remember the walls of the space being so beautiful, but i have tried not to think too much about it, tried not to think too much about why, and instead just have the memory of that moment.

However, it occurs to me the garden has its power because someone has looked after it for a long long time – it has changed over the years, and each act upon it (an act as simple as raking the gravel, even…) has left a mark on the place, imbued it with respect. Or perhaps the space already felt like that – and so the wall and the rocks were added to capture it even more succinctly?

What it does inspire in us is to take more care with each act we make in the garden – what gesture shall we make today? because it will have some affect on the space in front of us.

We are off to see the gardens at the Taj Mahal in March, so we shall see how that compares – as an equally respected place, yet born in a different culture.

I enjoyed following your online project for the Chelsea Fringe “You Should Have Seen it Last Week”. What did you take away from this project and is anything in the pipeline for the next Chelsea Fringe?

Our 2014 Chelsea Fringe project was something I’ve wanted to do for awhile – people were asked to take a photo of a flower or a landscape everyday over 3 weeks, so that we could see how it changed in that time.

Some people chose peonies – and it was both beautiful and shocking to see how long it took for the flowers to open out, bit by bit and day by day… before going over so quickly. Yet having been able to observe it so closely over the 3 weeks, it didn’t feel like a let down, or a waste, just the natural way… journey…? for this flower.

A friend of mine would say to me every March – i must go to Virginia Water (near London) and see the magnolia blossom. i can’t miss it. And when I asked why he would say – because you don’t know how many springs you have left.

It was a morbid reply, but a true one – i may only have 50 more chances to see a magnolia blossom, or a peony bloom, if i keep my health. So the Chelsea fringe project was a good way of forcing me to notice them and enjoy them, instead of doing something probably more pressing yet far less significant.

On another note, I also loved watching the ants crawling over the peony flowers, then disappearing when it rained.

For 2015 we are trying to create a document of 100 word manifestos by a number of garden writers – manifestos about gardening and what they believe cultivating a garden is for. I hope it will become a worthwhile document – as well as a free one to spread and be read by lots of people – that can be looked at in 100 years time, a document for people to go – did they really believe that about gardening? or, wow – here is where the seeds of our current world were being sown, here is where the ideas began to grow.

It seemed like a fun idea and worthwhile bringing together as many garden lvoers as possible. This is the lovely thing about Modern Mint – it has become a vehicle for us to try things without worrying about them not working, and to weave together different strands from the vast arena horticulture sits within.

You talked about manifestos before, what’s your manifesto for sustainable gardening?

A short answer would be to begin with Henk Gerritsen. He had 4 commandments for the natural gardener, which were…

1) The use of fertilisers and chemical herbicides is a mortal sin

2) Try to disturb the soil as little as possible

3) Be frugal with water

4) Don’t whinge!

There are several other ideas who’s time may be coming – many people are now growing their own vegetables, herbs and fruit, as well as flowers for the house. This will also lead to people cooking and preserving too. It not only means the food you get is fresher than anything in the supermarkets, but it means you are taking back a little piece of your independence, relabelling yourself producer and not merely consumer. Michael Pollan wrote a wonderful book called ‘Cooked’ expressing this.

I think every garden should have a compost heap and a leaf bin, as they are great for wildlife even if you never get around to digging the muck out and spreading it on your garden. And I would like to see people buying smaller plants, or buying more seed and starting a garden this way.

I suppose the key (as with most things in life) is attitude – treasure anything green.

What are your dreams and ambitions for Modern Mint over the next few years?

It is hard to know where a business will go – I am enormously excited about our online shop ( which we are learning from everyday – not just how to organise and run it, but in looking at which products we want to share with people – the idea is for the shop to be a beacon for the kind of products we are searching for – shampoos that don’t use chemicals, artisan furniture, organic cotton clothes – so I wonder if we will move away from the garden and into a shop that gathers all of these artists/suppliers under one roof?

On the garden design side, my ideas for this are changing too. The phrase Garden Consultant keeps going through my mind – where you take on fewer clients every year and work with them a longer time, to manage their ‘space’ and each act upon it over years rather than entering and changing everything quickly, to make a pretty picture, before leaving… and in the process leaving a bewildered client trying to work out how they will look after it!

The dreams changes all the time, but it is pinned to a love of doing the job well, and wanting to build something long-term that people are thrilled by – if we can keep building trust in what we are trying to do, that means we get to keep doing it, and that means we can keep getting better and better… Modern Mint is an exciting place to be at the moment!

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Imploding Fictions’ new show opens 16th December!


Imagine if you could achieve everything you wanted just through saying the right things?!

Conversation (Norwegian title: Den perfekte samtalen) is a lecture performance teaching you how you can influence other people – teachers, bosses, work colleagues, potential lovers – and have everything exactly the way you want it…

The show details the attempt to hold the perfect conversation, and how impossible this is, touching on themes like rethoric, the art of conversation, the power of words – and their powerlessness.

The show is produced in Norway, and performed in Norwegian.

Performance dates 2014
Opening night tuesday 16th December 7.30 pm
Matiné 17th December 11 am

Cafeteatret / Nordic Black Theatre, Hollendergata 8, Oslo, Norway

100,- kroner
Tickets are purchased at the door.


Available for touring for adults and teenage audience
The production is made to be performed in lecture halls, theatres or ordinary classrooms. We perform the show in two different versions:

– For adults. Perfect for theatre festivals, arts venues and for your business seminar!
– For schools, 16-19 year olds.

Cantact person: Elisabet Hagli Aars, eaars(a)

A show by Imploding Fictions
Based on Conversation by Alexis Clements
Adapted by Elisabet Hagli Aars & Øystein Ulsberg Brager
With: Elisabet Hagli Aars
Directed by: Øystein Ulsberg Brager
Photo: Ida Oppen
Graphic design: Anders N. Pedersen
Supported by: Fond for frilansere (Norsk Skuespillerforbund), Nordic Black Theatre, og FFUK.

Spenn logo

NBT logo



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Kinder K at Sorialabfestivalen 2014

Sorialabfestivalen 2014The production of Kinder K directed by Øystein U. Brager has enjoyed great success performing at festivals all over Norway. On Saturday 22nd November it will be back in Oslo for one performance only at Sorialabfestivalen 2014.

Check out the festival’s Facebook event here.
Read more about the production here.

KinderKPhoto: Tanja Steen

– Oystein

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A journey into a journey

Kunstnerisk leder for Imploding Fictions, Øystein Ulsberg Brager, er også frilanser og har for tiden regien på forestillingen Journey to the East. Han skrev en lang tekst til forestillingens program, men ikke alt fikk plass i det trykte programmet. Derfor poster vi den fulle teksten her.




A journey into a journey


Adopsjon er så vakkert. Det finnes kanskje ingenting mer hjertevarmende og rørende enn å se et foreldreløst barn bli tatt vare på av to nye, kjærlige foresatte. Det finnes ingen mer altruistisk handling enn å ta på seg det livslange ansvaret for et forlatt barn.


Det er det vi tenker, er det ikke? Vi som er liberale, omtenksomme, vestlige, ikke-rasistiske.


Et nytt liv i et bedre land. For en vakker idé.


Bedre land? Altruistisk? Forlatt? Tja. Verden er ikke så enkel. “Landet vårt er bedre enn deres” er ikke så langt unna “Vi er bedre enn dem”. Og hva med altruistisk? Vel, er det ønsket om å hjelpe barnet som står sterkest, eller ønsket om å hjelpe seg selv å bli forelder? Er det en menneskerett å få barn? Forlatt – eller en mor som ble overtalt til å selge barnet sitt for å sikre en “velmenende” adopsjonsagent profitt? Det er mye grums i adopsjonsvannet.


Jang Yoon Jin picFoto: Privat.

De burde være takknemlige. De adopterte, altså. De ble jo tatt vare på. Av oss. Vi ga dem jo kjærlighet og delte av vår kultur. Det er litt frekt, er det ikke? Å lure på hvem som fødte dem? Spiller det noen rolle, da? Det var jo vi som kjøpte bunad.


Da jeg ble invitert til å ha regi på Journey to the East var jeg ganske naiv. Tenkte på adopsjon som noe i utganspunktet positivt. Tenkte at jeg kunne tenke meg å adoptere selv. Jeg og kjæresten min var enige om at dersom vi skulle starte familie kunne vi tenke oss ett egenprodusert barn og ett adoptert barn. Jeg hadde aldri tenkt over hva som kunne være vanskelig eller negativt for den adopterte.


JTTE_001_Jan Christensen_LOWRESFoto: Jan Christensen


Jeg fikk låne en høy bunke bøker av Mona Grenne, hvis historie dette stykket baserer seg på. Faktabøker, essaysamlinger, poesi og romaner skrevet av adopterte. Da jeg kom ut på andre siden var jeg slett ikke så sikker lenger på at adopsjon var så udelt positivt som jeg først hadde trodd. Ikke bare negativt – for alle del – men ikke bare enkelt heller. At rasisme er et problem visste jeg jo, men jeg hadde ikke skjønt akkurat hvor vanskelig det er å alltid se annerledes ut. Fortellingene om å reise tilbake til sitt opprinnelsesland, og å stå midt på gata i dette fremmede landet (et fremmed hjemland – for et fantastisk oxymoron) og endelig se ut som alle andre, endelig være en del av massen, endelig være usynlig, endelig bare være seg selv – de historiene rørte meg. Historiene om å åpne munnen, og så ha alle øyne rettet mot deg igjen, når alle umiddelbart skjønner at selv om du ser ut som oss, så er du ikke som oss, opplevelsen av å komme “hjem” – men så ikke høre hjemme der heller – rørte meg dobbelt.


Jeg er også fascinert av hvor nytt dette temaet er. Utenlandsadopsjon i organiserte former har bare eksistert siden andre verdenskrig, og det er først i løpet av de siste 30 årene at adopsjon har eksistert i stor skala1. Det betyr at det først nå vi ser en hel generasjon med adopterte barn som har blitt voksne, og som har fullført sin utdanning som journalister, skuespillere, forfattere osv. Det er først nå vi virkelig får høre dem fortelle sin egen historie. Journey to the East er med på fortelle denne historien her i Norge.


JTTE_002_Jan Christensen_LOWRESPer Vidar Anfinnsen og Mona Grenne. (Foto: Jan Christensen)


Konfliktene mellom adopterte som ønsker å lete etter sitt biologiske opphav og adoptivforeldrene som føler seg forrådt av dette. Motsetningene mellom adopterte søsken – de som vil lete, og de som ikke vil vite. Fortellingene om de som finner sine biologiske foreldre, og så blir presset inn i vanskelige situasjoner: “Nå er du en del av familien igjen, nå må du ta ansvar. Du som er fra Vesten er jo rik. Vi forventer at du sender penger!” De som finner sine foreldre, men allikevel ikke skjønner hvem de er. De som ikke finner dem. Adopsjon er et overmettet tema, med historier nok til myriader av kunstverk i alle sjangre.


I Journey to the East forteller vi én slik historie. Dramatiker Nelly Winterhalder har tatt tak i Monas sanne historie og lagt til fiksjonslag som hjelper til å formidle fortellingens universelle innhold. Fortellingen har fått dramatisk og poetisk form. Noen av scenene er tettere opp til virkeligheten enn du kanskje skulle tro. For eksempel er det sant at Mona deltok i programposten “Mom, I miss you” på det Sør-Koreanske TV-programmet I miss that person på KBS. På dette programmet fortalte hun, inn i kameraet, at hun lette etter moren sin. Stykkets klimaks på adopsjonskontoret er også hentet fra virkeligheten.


Andre situasjoner du vil få se er kanskje ikke tatt rett ut av virkeligheten, men følelsene som formidles er sanne.


JTTE_003_Jan Christensen_SMALLPer Vidar Anfinnsen og Mona Grenne. (Foto: Jan Christensen)


Hvem er jeg? Hvor kommer jeg fra? Hvordan er hun; den biologiske moren min? Hvordan ser hun ut? Hvordan snakker hun? Hva slags personlighet har hun? Likner hun på meg? Er hun slik? Eller sånn? Eller slik?


Vi har utforsket en rekke spørsmål i dette stykket, og gitt det en eklektisk visuell stil. Det er ikke tilfeldig. Vi kanalhopper mellom de forskjellige bildene en koreanskadoptert vil kunne ha av sitt opphav. For når man er oppvokst i Norge, hvilke kilder har man egentlig til å danne seg et bilde av sin Sør-Koreanske opprinnelse? Monas mangeårige erfaring som stemmeskuespiller og dubber finner også veien inn i en forestilling som vi håper er underholdende og har glimt i øyet samtidig som den er rørende, tankevekkende og gir nye perspektiver.


På KBS sine hjemmesider kan man lese at det er 200.000 som har blitt utenlandsadoptert fra Sør-Korea.2 Fra 1996 til 2007 deltok 2000 personer i programmet “I miss that person”. Om dette kun hadde vært utenlandsadopterte så hadde det tilsvart ca. 200 adopterte i året. Dersom alle 200.000 skulle deltatt i hvert sitt TV-program, ville programmet gått i 1000 år.


Velkommen til Journey to the East.


Øystein Ulsberg Brager


Journey to the East is performed at
Cafeteatret / Nordic Black Theatre
from 23 to 27 September 2014.

To read more about Journey to the East look at the project website.
To book tickets click here.

Flyer by Elin Iversen.
See the project website for other credits.



(PS. Journey to the East is produced by Mona Grenne and co-produced by Nordic Black Theatre, and is not an Imploding Fictions’ production.)

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Drømmer og uendelighet

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Man når ikke alltid dit man drømmer om å nå. Man vil bli astronaut, men blir avdelingsjef. Man vil reise jorda rundt, men dro på helgetur til Køben. Man vil skape et genialt kunstverk som rører alle i hele verden, men lager noe som bare rører noen få.


Drømmenes funksjon

Det er synd på menneskene. Det er stor smerte i å ikke nå dit man har drømt om å nå. Ofte synes det bedre om man hadde sluppet å drømme. For hvordan forholder man seg til realitetene; til at man kun nådde dit man faktisk nådde?


Kanskje hjelper det å forstå drømmenes funksjon. Jeg tror mange misforstår hva drømmer er ment å gjøre for oss. Hvorfor det er positivt å drømme. Man tror gjerne drømmene visualiserer dit man skal; målet, endestasjonen. Men jeg tror ikke drømmenes funksjon er å danne en standard å måle seg etter. Jeg tror drømmene er til for å gi oss retning.


Dere får unnskylde en voldelig metafor: Når du skal slå noen i trynet, så skal du ikke sikte på ansiktet til vedkommende. Det gjør slaget veikt. Du skal sikte gjennom motstanderens ansikt, som om du vil knuse veggen bak ham. Den ekstra strekningen du planlegger at slaget skal gå, den ekstra styrken du legger til, øker slagets effekt betraktelig.


Eller ta en spydkaster. Hvor langt ønsker hun å kaste? 80 meter? 90 meter? Kanskje. Men kanskje er ønsket å kaste så langt hun kan. Så langt at spydet ikke lander, så kraftig at spydet ender med å gå i bane rundt jorda. Inn i evigheten. Resultatet er 80 eller 90 eller 100 meter og kanskje ny personlig rekord. Ønsket som ligger bak kastet er noe annet. Man må ikke blande sammen resultat og prosess. Og målet ditt – drømmen din – er ikke del av resultatet. Den er en del av prosessen.


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Det uendelige Amerika


Før jeg dro til USA så var det store landet i vest aller mest en drøm. Mengder av filmer, bøker og TV-serier hadde skapt mitt bilde av et land og en kultur som strakte seg ut over uoverskuelige vidder, endeløse fjellterreng, evige bylandskap, highways inn i evigheten. Idéen om Amerika hadde en uendelighet ved seg. Hva som helst kunne skje der, alt kunne eksistere i mine drømmers Amerika.


Da jeg besøkte USA for første gang kjørte jeg fra Kansas City, Missouri til Atlanta City, Georgia. Turen dekker ca. en tredjedel av USA på tvers og tar omtrent 14 timer. Jeg så det meste av midtvesten fra bilvinduet. Plutselig ble USA et virkelig sted. Og ikke bare ble det virkelig, det ble også endelig. USA fikk en begynnelse og en slutt. Det er et endelig antall mennesker som bor der. Et endelig antall miles med veier. Et endelig antall nabolag. Et endelig antall veikroer.


Men ikke lenge etter at jeg kom hjem ekspanderte USA igjen til sin kjente, betryggende, inspirerende størrelse. TV-skjermen og kinosalen og teaterscenen var igjen med på å vekke til live det uendelige Amerika, der invasjoner fra det ytre rom er like naturlig som å være nabo med en gangster.

Innad i en enkelt film eller et enkelt teaterstykke finnes kun et par timer med materiale. Kun et par timer med historier, et par timer i noen rollefigurers liv, et par timer med interiører og eksteriører. Men implisitt i den historien du bevitner finnes det en større verden, en verden som eksisterer rundt det vi hører og ser. Alt det vi kan se for oss at skjer mellom de scenene vi er vitne til, alt vi kan forestille oss at finnes videre ned den gata der hovedpersonene bor, alt som finnes i byen ved siden av der det hele skjer, og i byen ved siden av der igjen, og ved siden av der igjen. I nabolandet. På naboplaneten. Et helt nytt univers fødes med hver nye historie. Og fordi det er et drømt univers, inne i hver enkelt av oss, så innehar det uoverskuelige muligheter, skjebner, hendelser. En ny uendelighet oppstår med hver nye historie som fortelles. Kunsten er med på å gjøre verden uendelig igjen.


Behovet for uendelighet


Vi trenger uendelighet. Det inspirerer drømmene våre, drømmer som ikke er endestasjoner i livene våre, men drømmer som ligger forbi de målene vi kan nå i våre korte liv. Drømmer som gir oss kraft og energi til å leve til vårt ytterste potensiale.


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Forskjellen på inspirasjon og materiale


En liten digresjon for å rydde opp i noen begreper: Forskjellen på inspirasjon og materiale. Mange ser ikke forskjellen, og blander sammen det som jo er to svært forskjellige ting. Det er ikke så rart – inspirasjon er vanskelig å sette fingeren på, mens materiale er konkret og håndfast. Det kan være vanskelig å se forskjellen på inspirasjonen bak et verk og materialet som verket er satt sammen av.

Hvis jeg går og ser en film der noen blir brutalt myrdet med en øks, og så skriver en novelle om noen som blir brutalt myrdet med en øks, så ville mange sagt at jeg ble inspirert av filmen. Men jeg er ikke enig i at det nødvendigvis stemmer. Bildene fra filmen var materiale som jeg brukte på (forhåpentligvis) en ny og spennende måte i mitt nye verk, så klart. Men det kan ha vært noe helt annet som inspirerte meg. Måneskinnet gjennom greinene. Lukten av kjæresten min. En sang på radioen. Kanskje noe jeg ikke en gang kan sette ord på, som en følelse, eller en anelse av noe udefinert.


Inspirasjonen vandrer ikke nødvendigvis i rette linjer. Den tar heller omveier, snarveier, bakveier. Den går i bue, rundt hjørner, via kroker og kriker vi ikke forventer, via mystiske og bortgjemte stier.


Du kan stille deg selv åpen til å ta inspirasjonen imot, men du kan ikke tvinge den eller lure den. Du kan lete etter den på steder der som du vet gir deg den kjente, kilende følelsen av kreativitet, men du kan ikke vite om den vil komme. Kanskje overrasker den deg heller der du minst forventer det. Det finnes ingen matematisk formel for inspirasjon.


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Kunstens oppgave


Dette er kunstens oppgave: Å inspirere menneskene så de kan yte sitt ytterste og oppdage sine beste egenskaper. Å inspirere oss til å skape det som ikke før er skapt, for å stadig lede menneskeheten fram mot en verden som er levelig, vakker og human.


Kunsten er uvurderlig i et hvert samfunn som ønsker utvikling; det være seg et teknologisk samfunn, et industrielt samfunn, et økologisk samfunn, et miljøfokusert samfunn, et produksjonsrettet samfunn, et handelsdrevet samfunn, et individuelt samfunn, et kollektivt samfunn. Retningen i landets politikk (la meg være overtydelig: retningen i norsk politikk) spiller ingen rolle. Kunsten fyller uansett en uerstattelig samfunnsrolle.


For hvem vet nøyaktig hva som driver oss? Hva som gir oss våre beste idéer? Hva som lar oss oppfylle vårt største potensiale som mennesker, samfunnsborgere, forskere, entreprenører, gründere, lærere, leger, bakere, rørleggere, konsulenter og kontorarbeidere, innovatører innen alle yrker og samfunnslag, i det private, offentlige, personlige? Hvem vet nøyaktig hvilken input vi trenger for å skape den outputen som løser problemene samfunnet til enhver tid står overfor?


Vi kan ikke koste på oss å innskrenke mangfoldet. Vi har ikke råd til å ikke satse på de små, rare, smale, logisk uforståelige kunstuttrykkene. Vi vet ikke hva vi taper. Vi vet ikke hvem som kunne vokst på den opplevelsen. Vi vet ikke hvilke irrganger i hjernen som hadde omformet akkurat den opplevelsen – i kombinasjon med den kunnskapen og forståelsen som akkurat dette mennesket har tilegnet seg – til en genistrek som tar oss som samfunn og mennesker enda ett steg framover.


Hva inspirerte Ibsen, Falsen, Tranmæl? Hva inspirerte Colett, Friele, Anker Møller? Hva inspirerte Abel, Eyde, Bonnevie, Ottesen-Jensen?1


Hvem vet. Det kan ha vært måten månen lyste gjennom trærne den natta som ga dem den roen de trengte for å tenke klart. Det kan ha vært den sangen på radioen den dagen som ga dem styrken til å kjempe for det de trodde på. Det kan ha vært lukta av kjæresten deres som ga dem tryggheten til å tro på seg selv. Det kan ha vært det rare, uforståelige maleriet som de ikke likte som skapte en følelse i dem som slo rot, og som satte i gang en prosess som mange år senere skulle kulminere i en genistrek ingen hadde forutsett.

Kulturen er en viktig del av dette bildet. Fordi vi ikke vet, så har vi ikke råd til å la være. Vi har ikke råd til å la markedskreftene styre utvalget av kunstuttrykk alene. Et offentlig støttet norsk kulturliv med full kunstnerisk frihet er den billigste måten å sikre samfunnet jevn tilgang på inspirasjon.


Blant de mange argumentene til forsvar for kunsten er dette mitt bidrag. Til bruk overfor politikere, overfor menigmann og overfor oss selv og vår egen skiftende selvfølelse som kunstnere.


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Barnet og ungdommen i oss


Jeg tror kunsten alltid snakker til barnet i oss, til ungdommen i oss. Selv den mest alvorlige tolkning av et seriøst, historisk familiedrama er allikevel en lek der teatrets begrensninger og virkemidler ikke kan annet enn å appellere til vår fantasi og til vår kreativitet.


Den delen av meg som ønsker, vil og drømmer; den delen kaller jeg for mitt indre barn, min indre ungdom. Den delen av meg som lar meg få lov til å strekke meg lenger enn min fysiske kropp kan klare, den delen av meg som drar linjer fra meg selv og ut i alle slags evigheter, den delen som tenker de tankene jeg aldri kunne forutsett at jeg skulle komme til å ha – den delen av meg er mitt indre barn, min indre ungdom.


For å gjøre denne delen av oss så solid og levedyktig som mulig, sånn at vi ikke glemmer den når vi blir voksne, tror jeg på å gi barn og unge en oppvekst som er så rik på inntrykk, tanker og opplevelser som mulig. Kunst, kultur, historier; det er ingen grense for hvor mye vi kan ta imot, og vår unike kombinasjon av kulturelle byggesteiner er det som gjør oss til det mennesket vi er. Og jo rikere hver enkelt av oss er på kultur i alle former, jo rikere blir fellesskapet. Så enkelt – og så viktig – tror jeg arbeidet vårt som kulturarbeidere er. Vi gir oss oss.




Vi kan ikke reise til alle hjørner av galaksen. Et menneskeliv rommer ikke å se eller oppleve alt. For et menneske er virkeligheten i praksis endelig. Og selv om universet kanskje er uendelig, så er uvirkeligheten uendelig mye mer uendelig.


– Øystein


Denne artikkelen ble først publisert august 2014 i en noe forkortet versjon
i Propellens Fanzine Dette er scenekunst for barn og unge
utgitt i forbindelse med festivalen av samme navn.


Fotografiene er hentet fra Imploding Fictions’ forestilling The Predictions,
som blant annet handlet om å det å drømme opp en fantastisk fremtid.
Fotograf: Ida Oppen


1Hvis du ikke kjenner alle disse etternavnene kan du ta en titt på

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Conversations on devising

Kristina Ros, dramaturge at Barnteaterakademin, participated in a panel debate at Theatre Café Festival Oslo. She also brought a huge stack of books which we handed out to festival guests and others – thanks! The title of the book is Samtal om devising (Conversations on devising). Here is some more information about the book and about Barnteaterakademin. The information is in Swedish.

– Oystein

Samtal om devising bokomslag liten


Samtal om devising

En antologi från Barnteaterakademin

Red. Anna Berg, Lisa Lindén, Kristina Ros, 2013

Representanter för olika perspektiv och yrkesgrupper reflekterar kring begreppet och fenomenet devising: Hur definierar vi dramatik? Hur definierar vi text? Vem äger rättigheterna till de verk som skapas kollektivt och hur påverkar devisingmetoder teaterns olika yrkesfunktioner – dramatiker, skådespelare, regissörer, scenografer, dramaturger? Och varför är devising så inne just nu…

Antologin är kostnadsfri och finns för avhämtning på en rad teatrar i Göteborg, men går också att få sig tillsänd med post (beställaren står för fraktkostnaden). Skicka mail till: info(a) för mer information!

Boken är skriven på svenska.

Övriga publikationer

Barnteaterakademin har tidigare utgivit publikationerna: Makt och maktlöshet. Aspekter och tendenser inom den moderna svenska barnteatern; Kultur – nytta eller mening; Nio röster – nio pjäser.

Om Barnteaterakademin

Barnteaterakademin verkar på uppdrag av Göteborgs Stad Kultur, med syftet att främja nyskriven dramatik för barn och unga, stimulera debatt och forskning som fokuserar på barn- och ungdomsteater samt utveckla samarbeten mellan institutioner, fria grupper och representanter inom skola och kultur. Angereds Teater är sedan 2008 huvudman för Barnteaterakademin som drivs av en projektledare tillsammans med en styrgrupp, bestående av representanter från institutioner och fria grupper i Göteborg och Västra Götalandsregionen.

Info och kontakt: info(a), Projektledare Kristina Ros, mobil: 073-4347275

Theatre Café Festival Oslo: With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.


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Some photos from Theatre Café Festival Oslo

Theatre Café Festival Oslo was an Oslo International Theatre project. The festival series continues in Berlin, Frankfurt and Amsterdam in 2014 and 2015. Keep abreast of all the festivals at

Photos: Ida Oppen

For full credits see OITs webpage.

– Oystein

With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.


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