Szechwan (1991) was a theatre production by by Studio Teater, Beaivvás Sámi Nasunálateáhter AKA The Norwegian National Sami Theatre Company, The Arctic Theatre and Sampo Teater in collaboration. Szechwan was based on Bertolt Brecht's play The Good Person of Szechwan. The production was performed outdoors, during winter, with 2500 tonnes of ice and snow as part of its stage design and its auditorium.
It was directed by Jos Groenier (from The Netherlands).
Anitta Suikkari played the role of Shen Te.
Norsk Teaterleder-forening (now called Norsk Teaterlederforum) gave its award for particularly excellent work 1991 to Jos Groenier for Szechwan.
Information(Objekt ID 10457)
|Premiere||March 9, 1991|
|Produced by||Sampo Teater, The National Sami Theatre, The Arctic Theatre, Studio Teater|
|Based on||The Good Person of Szechwan AKA The Good Woman of Szechwan AKA The Good Person of Sichuan AKA The Good Person of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht|
|Number of events||13|
|Language||Sami, Finnish and Norwegian|
|Expressions||Theatre, Drama, Outdoors theatre|
|Running period||March 9, 1991|
|Duration||Approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes|
Requirements to venue
In the performance program for Szechwan the following, among other things, was written (translated from Norwegian by Sceneweb's Lillian Bikset):
"Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) wrote The Good Woman of Setzuan AKA The Good Person of Szechwan within the frame of 1939-41, when he, as a leftist radical and artist, was forced to flee Hitler’s Nazi terror in Germany. [...] Before Brecht came to USA, he spent some time in Finland, where he finished the play. It got its world premiere in Zürich in 1943. Like some of the other main plays of Brecht’s, Szechwan too is a parable, in which he uses short, suggestive scenes to show us how impossible it is to be good towards one's own and others at the same time.
The fable of Szechwan conjures human smallness, and our adaption of it is a practical, every day version of the battle between good and evil. The story provides insight into the little, white lies we surround ourselves with to survive. We usually consider us to be honest, humanist humans, but when all comes to an end – when it comes to surviving – we lose our honesty and humanity. Brecht shows us these mechanisms in the battle between good and evil. The realities in these mechanisms may have changed during the past 50 years, but the mechanisms are the same today.
Director Jos Groenier
This version of Szechwan is fully consistent with Brecht's original, though it is, naturally, adjusted to the cold surroundings within which the play takes place. The text, the stage design, the costumes, the lightning and the music are focused on an interpretation drawing the essence of Brecht's play. We try to find the right form to it, and in particular to take into account that the production will be performed outside, in temperatures that might be as low as 35 degrees below zero (Celsius).
When somebody, in a warm theatre, strokes someone else over the head, the audience will notice it as nice, but also normal, behaviour. But when somebody, in 35 degrees below zero, takes off the mittens to do the same, caressing the cheek of one’s beloved, it is a deed.
Director Jos Groenier
Except for this, Szechwan is first and foremost an international collaboration between four Norwegian theatre companies. The original idea came from Studio Teater, a company of Dutch and Norwegian actors in Trondheim. After early experiments with ice and snow they wanted to initiate a larger project. They contacted Beaivvás in Kautokeino, and eventually The Arctic Theatre and Sampo Teater came to join the realisation of a very exciting, challenging project using actors from the Sami areas, Norway, Finland, Holland and Sweden. Because of the different nationalities performing onstage, the language will play an important part in this version of Szechwan. We have worked to find the right onstage mix of languages, so that the languages get a dramatic function of their own in the performance. It may be so that in this production the "gods" speak normative Norwegian, a carpenter speaks Swedish, a pilot speaks a Northern Norwegian dialect, but throughout the play one will always return to the Sami language, which, in this production, is "the language of the heart"."
The Arctic Theatre, ht.tr.no, 17.08.2015, http://ht.tr.no/index.php/theatre/showview?iShowID=77 /26.06.2017, http://halogalandteater.no/produksjon/sezuan
Sampo Teater's archive, donated by Anitta Suikkari, 15.05.2009.
|Nils Isak Eira||– Translation (Samisk)|
|Arvid Esperø||– Translation (Norsk)|
|Jos Groenier||– Direction|
|Jan Garbarek||– Music|
|Astor Piazolla||– Music|
|Hans de Wolf||– Dramaturge|
|Aage Gaup||– Stage design|
|Inghild Karlsen||– Costume design|
|Arvid Esperø||– Sound design|
|Kristin Bredal||– Lighting design|
|Per Henrik Bals||– Actor (Det gamle teppehandleren / Snekker Lin To / Kelner)|
|Mathias Calmeyer||– Actor (Flygeren Yang Sun)|
|Iŋgor Ántte Áilu Gaup||– Actor (Wang, vannselgeren)|
|Ann Jorid Henriksen||– Actor (Fru Yang / Det gamle teppehandlersken)|
|Janne Langaas||– Actor (Shin)|
|Annie van der Leer||– Actor (Fem hodet familie)|
|Annie van der Leer||– Actor (Gud 2)|
|Bjørn Myrholdt||– Actor (Gud 1 / Fem hodet familie)|
|Coby Omvlee||– Actor (Gud 3 / Fem hodet familie)|
|Mary Sarre||– Actor (Vertinnen Mitzü)|
|Trond-Ove Skrødal||– Actor (Barberer Shun Fu / Fem hodet familie)|
|Viggo Solum||– Actor (Fem hodet familie)|
|Anitta Suikkari||– Actor (Shen Te/Shui Ta)|
|Ole Johan Oskal||– Props|
|Ingrid W. Olsen||– Stage manager|
|Leif Isak Eide Nilut||– Sound technician|
|Knut Skoglund||– Sound technician|
|Reidun Gaaseide||– Lighting technician|
|Jon H. Paulsen||– Lighting technician|
|Valter Nilsen||– Production manager|
|Jens Harald Eilertsen||– Administration (PR.manager)|
Astrid Sletbakk, Frysende godt (literally: Freezingly good), 11.03.1991, Verdens Gang [Oslo]:
"The theatre is an enormous dune of snow, 40 meters in circumference. [...] Aage Gaup has created a backdrop from ice, as beautiful as a fairytale castle. We keep finding new, exciting angles we can delight in, visually, as we, the audience, wander between four different perspectives during the performance."
Harriet Eide, Varmt teater i kald polarnatt (literally: Warm theatre during a cold Arctic night), 11.03.1991, Dagbladet [Oslo]:
"In its artistically powerful frame, created by ice and snow at the Finnmark plateau by the Sami artist Aage Gaup, the production will freeze its way deeply into the memory, as a rare, valuable experience. [...] The performance blows limitations away, total in its lighting and lighting design (Arvid Esperø and Kristin Bredal), sound images by Jan Garbarek and Astor Piazolla and not least through Inghild Karlsen's costumes, a masterpiece in black and white."
Odd Sønvisen, Det gode mennesket fra Kautokeino (literally: The Good Person from Kautokeino), 11.03.1991, Nordlys [Tromsø]:
"This is part of this performance's deep generosity; it is created from the impossible, it takes a stand, and it has something to offer everyone. As such is it a true production of Brecht's, a performance that would have had the old master chew his cigar and whinny in his heaven, if that is where he is. [...] It is cool, it is brave, it is madness. It is art battling for its own purpose."
Magne Kveseth, Fantastisk uteteater (literally: Amazing outdoors theatre), date unknown, Altaposten (Alta):
"Never has the stage design with the sound and lighting meant so much for the end result than just here. The decorations are art, the lighting and use of sound the same. [...] Everything is one hundred percent right. Actors, stage workers, light and sound have been driven together to make up the perfect expression."
Nils Christensen, Trolsk teateropplevelse (literally: Mesmerising theatre experience), 11.03.1991, Adresseavisen [Trondheim]:
"...backdrop, sound images and actors gave an unforgettable experience. [...] But why are we left with a feeling that something is lacking? The actors performed well enough and the choreography was timed as it should be. But even though the frame surrounding the piece was amazing, we think that there was little development in the piece. One becomes more interested in the effects than in the play itself.. [...] The societal critic Bertolt Brecht disappeared."
Ole Magnus Rapp, Varmt teater på kald vidde (literally: Warm theatre at cold plateau), 11.03.1991, Finnmark Dagblad:
"It became a special night in the theatre. [...] The backdrop was possibly the most unique. Never before has Norwegian theatre been performed in front of six-meter-tall ice sculptures, formed by the artist Aage Gaup and his assistants."
Svein Lund, Flernasjonalt i isen (literally: Multinational in ice), 14.03.1991, Klassekampen [Oslo]:
"Blue lighting, as on airport tarmac [...] leads us towards a construction that is blowing all common sense away. We can no longer doubt this: The group behind this is utterly out of their minds. [...] The daring technical, linguistic solutions are likely what Szechwan will be best remembered for."
Jan Erik Teigen, Grenseløst teater i 35 grader minus (literally: Limitless theatre in 35 degrees below), 11.03.1991, Nordlands Framtid [Bodø]:
"The stage design is worth a chapter of its own. It can't be compared to anything I have ever seen. [...] The colourful lighting's movements across the mass of ice strengthened the mesmerising, scary mood of the plot. As did the sound images, made by Jan Garbarek and Astor Piazolla. Pumped out through large loudspeakers, almost hidden in the forest, for the sound to seem as if it came from all around. [...] A more exciting theatre project than this has never been seen in The Cap of the North."
Kari Thomsen, Kunst og natur i selvfølgelig samspill (literally: Art and nature in providential interaction), 11.03.1991, Stavanger Aftenblad [Stavanger]:
"The interpretations of the roles or the conception by the director are not what becomes important to us, but the interaction between the story, the performance and the surrounding nature. [...] In addition, Suikkari is an actress whose charisma is strong even in this huge landscape. [...] Visual artist Inghild Karlsen's costumes were excellent."
Trondar Lien, Den gode forestilling Sezuan (literally: The Good Performance Szechwan), 18.03.1991, Tromsø [Tromsø]:
"... what an experience didn't the 200 lucky spectators take part in. [...] Roses to all of those behind it - this was great, and makes a new visit tempting."
Sten Sørensen, Ruvende teaterforestilling blant iskulisser (literally: Towering theatre performance among ice decorations), 20.03.1991, Vårt Land [Oslo]:
"The like of illuminated ice decorations, we have never seen. [...] With the strong sound effects, the theatre performance is towering."