Erik Pierstorff

Born15 Feb. 1926 (dead 18 Sep. 1984)
FunctionsCritic, Journalist, Literary critic, Theatre critic, Theatre director

About Erik Pierstorff

Erik «Pi» Pierstorff (born February 15 1926 in Oslo, dead September 18 1984 in Lillehammer) was a Norwegian linguist, journalist, critic and theatre worker.

After finishing upper secondary school in 1944 Erik Pierstorff studied literature at Colgate University 1945-47 and worked for Associated Press in 1949-50. After studying at Sorbonne in 1951-52, in Sweden in 1953-54 and completing a degree at The University of Oslo 1957, he worked as a journalist in Morgenbladet in 1959–63 and then spent two years as a freelancer, writing for several newspapers. During these two years Pierstorff also produced eight short films about the history and aesthetics of ballet and modern dance for the Swedish broadcasting corporation Sveriges Radio och Television.

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In 1966 Erik Pierstorff was hired as the artistic director and CEO of Trøndelag Theatre. At the time he was the youngest person to lead a Norwegian theatre. He was also among the most creative theatre leaders; he emphasised the young talents, he was of the opinion that the theatre was to put issues on the political agenda, put a high priority on bringing theatre out to the people, found that theatre was to be available to anyone, regardless of social status and established the theatre's secondary venue Teaterloftet, open for avant-garde experiments. Pierstorff decided to resign from his position as artistic director/CEO in 1970.

Pierstorff worked as a dramaturge at The National Theatre of Norway 1970-75.

After several years of practical theatre work he returned to being a theatre critic. At Thoralf Berg writes the following about Pierstorff’s nine years in Dagbladet:

"As Dagbladet's theatre critic for nine years he made his mark as a strongly personal and uncompromised theatre critic with a rare degree of integrity. He wrote utterly subjective reviews. These were based on a confident gut feeling for good and bad theatre plus his thorough theoretical and practical insight in the profession of theatre. For Pierstorff theatre criticism was an issue of honesty towards the profession, the theatre and the readers. Thus he was also without mercy when he reprimanded productions he found were not up to the mark, and he expressed his boundless delight for productions succeeding. With innovative phrasing, great joy in conveying and eagerness he forced all those interested in theatre to take a stand towards what he wrote. Often Pierstorff was controversial, and sometimes it stormed around him."

The last part of his life he was the leader of the Norwegian theatre critics' union (this was prior to the establishment of Norwegian Critics' Association, but the Norwegian theatre critics were gathered in a similar association).

Pierstorff died from brain haemorrhage in 1984.

Published texts: 

  • T. S. Eliot and the Dilemma of the Modern Theatre, Being Some Notes on Theatre as Creative Imagination (The University of Oslo, 1957). Thesis.
  • I min fars hus (literally: In the house of my father) (1962). Essay in collaboration with Øyvind Foss.
  • Teater på spill (Literally: Theatre at stake) (1971). About theatre politics.
  • Når det kommer til stykket (A Norwegian idiom, a wordplay on theatre. The content is parallel to the English When all comes to all, whereas the literal meaning is When it comes to the piece/play). With Kjetil Bang-Hansen and Örjan Wiklund, about a production of An Enemy of the People.


Store Norske Leksikon,, 13.02.2012,

Wikipedia,, 13.02.2012,

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