Fast rising theatre company Cut the Cord are delighted to announce the launch of their brand-new initiative designed to shine a light on Nordic plays and to spread awareness of modern Nordic theatre and its approaches with a new UK Festival.
The New Nordics Festival will take the form of a four-day festival celebrating Nordic theatre and will take place at East London’s Yard Theatre from 18th - 21st March 2020.
Working with a mixture of upcoming and high profile theatre writers in the Nordic region (including Lisa Langseth who currently writes and directs for Netflix; and Vivian Nielsen who has received a Reumert Prize for her work), the festival hopes to display the collaborative work between Nordic and UK based creatives - with the aim of showcasing the strengths of Nordic writing which is, at its heart, steeped in Nordic values; most notably gender equality, environmental awareness, social engagement and other socially and politically progressive ways of thinking.
Through a rigorous selection process, six playwrights from six different Nordic countries - Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands - have been selected to bring their work to the festival and have been paired with six UK based directors to further support the intercountry relationship. The directors will also travel to their paired country to meet the writer, other directors, artistic directors and producers, and to explore what Nordic theatre and culture is, before returning to the UK to workshop, rehearse and then perform the pieces for one-night only at the festival, for the first time in the UK.
The festival is full of funny, dark and explosive plays, each giving a glimpse of the countries they come from including shows about climate change, fir trees, garages, loneliness, cows, and of course… IKEA. The programme at a quick glance is as follows (with more details and play blurbs at the end of the release):
· Refuge (Iceland) – writer: Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson, director: Jack Nurse
· The Woman Who Turned into A Tree (Sweden) – writer: Lisa Langseth, director: Anna Himali Howard
· Searching for Being (Faroe Islands) – writer: Katarina G. Nolsøe, director: Janisè Sadik
· Garage (Finland) – writer: Mika Myllyaho, director: Lucie Dawkins
· No Planet B (Denmark) – writer: Vivian Nielsen, director: Roberta Zuric
· Counting to Zero (Norway) – writer: Kristofer Grønskag, director: Eleanor Chadwick
The programme was announced last night (Tuesday 14th January) at a celebratory launch event held at central London’s h club where the playwright/director pairings were announced alongside the selected plays, as guests were treated to an opening speech by Danish Ambassador Lars Thuesen and music by celebrated Swedish singer Emilia Martensson. Also in attendance at the launch, were the ambassadors from each of the six participating countries (pictured below with Camilla Gurtler).
Festival Director, Camilla Gurtler says, “It takes a lot to start a new festival, especially one that moves across borders and engages the work of artists of many nationalities, but we’ve had great support from Nordic embassies and other partners. The festival was born out of a wish to bridge the gap between theatre cultures in different countries, between the UK and the Nordic region, showcasing the best each has to offer. The festival is about skills-exchange and growing an international network and link between UK and Nordic artists with the hope that these relationships will continue to flourish in years to come, and we’re so excited to welcome our Nordic writers to London this March.”
The slate of plays that the festival is set to present are:
WED 18 MARCH
Refuge by Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson – ICELAND
Director: Jack Nurse // Designer: Cara Evans
IKEA employee Laurence prepares to give a presentation to new recruits. But behind the scenes, he experiencing an emotional crisis following a brutal breakup and the death of his mother, and IKEA becomes his only safe haven. Locking himself in the store overnight, Laurence’s reflections turn to guilt, environmentalism, mortality, spiders, and the imaginary security guard that appears from nowhere. Refuge is a one-man play about loneliness and Western angst, mass produced furniture, and much much more.
THURS 19 MARCH
Searching for Being by Katarina G. Nolsøe – FAROE ISLANDS
STAGED READING BEFORE THE WOMAN WHO TURNED INTO A TREE
Director: Janisè Sadik
“I fought huge trolls, as big as Monsters of Fear can be, but with help from the good elves, I found the right keys”.
A nightmare of a fairy-tale, Searching for Being embodies a woman’s struggle with depression through a series of vivid poems. We join her on a journey through the dark, examining a universal issue many of us face on a daily basis. Exploring the musical and poetical tradition of the Faroe Islands, Searching for Being is a staged reading based on real events, featuring live music.
The Woman Who Turned into a Tree by Lisa Langseth – SWEDEN
Director: Anna Himali Howard // Designer: Cara Evans
In the absence of anything meaningful in her life, Daphne worships her own appearance and social status, defining herself through class, money and men. But Daphne is forced to move out of her box-sized city centre room and has to relocate to a cheaper alternative in the not-so-cool outskirts of town. Her new flat sports a fir tree by the window… that begins to talk to her. The Woman Who Turned into a Tree is a one-woman play about the destructive obsession with other people’s opinions, materialism, loneliness and class.
FRI 20 MARCH
Garage by Mika Myllyaho – FINLAND
Director: Lucie Dawkins // Designer: Niall McKeever
An ex-headteacher with a failed marriage, and his friend owns a garage in financial trouble, start their very own a YouTube channel together in an attempt to save the garage from bankruptcy. What begins with the two men offering advice on how to fix tools, cars and parts, soon becomes riddled with controversial and unedited reflections on society and class, which draws a much bigger online audience than anticipated. Garage is a dark comedy full of heart, exploring how two very different people can sustain a friendship.
SAT 21 MARCH at 7pm
Counting to Zero by Kristofer Grønskag – NORWAY
STAGED READING BEFORE NO PLANET B
Director: Eleanor Chadwick
Counting to Zero is a figurative bomb. It begins with scene ten and counts down to zero. A stalker. Train tracks. The untimely death of a cow. How are they linked? A group of young people search for something that really means something, search for something that demands a risk – something real and valuable. They all want to be seen by someone. But by who? And why does it really matter? Counting to Zero is a staged reading of exciting and funny mosaic of events, examining the need to be seen in today’s world.
No Planet B by Vivian Nielsen – DENMARK
Director: Roberta Zuric // Designer: Niall McKeever
Two women lead a performance lecture on climate change to brazenly inform/remind us of the current situation of our planet. Listing the facts and statistics concerning exactly what is happening to our planet, they try to find a solution here and now. But as the information becomes more and more overwhelming, and the solutions seem further and further away, the two women spiral into absurdity in search of a plan(net) B. No Planet B is a dark comedy about the state of the climate crisis and where we as individuals fit into it all.