Build Me A Mountain!

Build Me A Mountain! is a theatre production by Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions about the meeting between the Finnish playwright and business woman Hella Wuolijoki and the German playwright Bertolt Brecht in Marlebäck, Finland in 1940.

Information

(Objekt ID 17731)
Object type Production
Premiere Navember 17, 2011
Produced by Verk Produksjoner
Coproducers Black Box Teater, Baltic Circle Helsinki
Based on Build Me a Mountain! by Daniel Wedel
Audience Adults
Expressions Theatre, Documentary, Drama, Epic Theatre, Biographical theatre
Running period Navember 17, 2011  
Duration 1h 40 min
Website VERK PRODUKSJONER

Requirements to venue

Blackout Yes
More

The action in Build Me A Mountain! by Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions is based on the following events:

A few days after Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway Bertolt Brecht contacted Hella Wuolijoki to ask for help to get him to Finland. The plan was to continue to USA through the Soviet Union. Wuolijoki was in contact with the prime minister of Finland and managed to convince him to let in the writer of The Threepenny Opera - a play he liked. Shortly after Brecht travelled to Finland with his wife Helene Weigel, their two children, his secretary and mistress Margarete Steffin, plus his mistress Ruth Berlow.

At the time Hella Wuolijoki was already a renowned writer, who had published some 30 books. She had earlier supported the Bolshevik revolutions and functioned as a hostess and guide for Brecht and his entourage.

In Marlebäck they fled – perhaps for the sake of powerlessness or protest - into an alternate reality, creating a small-scale, human-made utopia mid-hell. While Europe burned around them they told each other stories, discussed world peace, wrote new plays together (Puntila and Matti, his hired man and The Judith of Shimoda), plus completing plays of their own. As Hitler turned London into a burning inferno, Brecht wrote the following in his journal: "The play Puntila means hardly anything to me, the war everything, about Puntila I can write virtually everything, about the war nothing".

Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions finds that this particular meeting has a story to tell us in how we relate to our own time, our own limitations, and how to move on when all illusions are gone. With the writer Daniel Wedel they have gone through archives and found journals, letters, fragments of stories and plays from this productive period.

Build Me A Mountain! is the second Verk production about people who don't accept realities and create their own reality. The production revolves around the questions "How to relate to our own time?" and "How to move on when all illusions are gone?"

An interview with Fredrik Hannestad can be read here (text in Swedish only).

Supported by: The Norwegian Art Council, Alfred Kordelinin Fonden i Finland, Black Box Theatre and the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs/MFA (travel grant/performing arts).

Source:

Black Box Teater, blackbox.no, 13.09.2011, http://www.blackbox.no/content/titlePresentation.php?tid=2105

Contributors
Name Role
Daniel Wedel – Text
Fredrik Hannestad – Direction
Per Platou – Music
Daniel Wedel – Dramaturge
Signe Becker – Stage design
Per Platou – Sound
Tilo Hahn – Lighting design
Saila Hyttinen – Actor
Anders Mossling – Actor
Håkon Mathias Vassvik – Actor
Press coverage

Nystøyl, Karen Frøsland (25.11.2011). Bertolt Brecht møter Hattifnattene (literally: Bertolt Brecht meets the hattifatterners). NRK, nrk.no, 11.01.2012, http://www.nrk.no/kultur-og-underholdning/1.7891888:

"The company turns up the volume of the mood, the ritual starts, the stage is filled with smoke and music that is exactly a bit too loud, and the puppets, the plants, the pillows and the altar-like tables the stage is filled with are used in what eventually develops into brutal storytelling. Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions does exactly a bit too much - in the exact right way. One builds towards a climax, then takes it down again to a new start with lighting of candles, calm and reflection. And then they go on again, towards a new climax."

Valberg, Anna Helene (25.11.2011). Dekadanse i Europas natt (literally: Decadence in the night of Europe). From Scenekunst, scenekunst.no, 11.01.2012, http://arkiv.scenekunst.no/artikkel_8652.nml:

"The aesthetic is bordering ugly - nothing is beautiful here, except for the live actors, when they are not wrapped into costumes such as a hijab-dressed playboy bunny from the Egyptian kingdom of death. Others are dressed as absurd Moomin characters; Hella (Saila Hyttinen) is herself the sputtering and happy Little My. The top hat and the large, white sheepskin coat of Anders Mossling's is a bit reminiscent of Moominpappa. (...) Using freewheeling imagination, based on a true story, Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions follows Brecht's admonition that acting should never fall to naturalism. Brecht found that one should rather look to commedia dell'arte. This jester tradition is explicit and overdone, but bound by rules. The acting style of Verk's is inspired by the stiffened body language and the large, simplistic movements of the mannequin dolls used onstage. "

Stara, Linnea (19.11.2011). Försckräckligt underbar teaterritual (literally: Terribly wonderful theatre ritual) in Hofvudstadsbladet, hbl.fi, 11.01.2011, http://hbl.fi/kultur/recension/2011-11-19/forskrackligt-underbar-teaterritual:

"Pretty soon one is even convinced that the Norwegian theatre company Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions is holding all building blocks in its hand, because in furious tempo the company pulls in the audience, the ghosts from stage and Moominmamma, dragging them all up towards the hills from which one can see the theatre roofs of Berlin. (...) But here one can also glimpse the sombre undercurrent and heartfelt discussion on artistic creation and taking responsibility in a chaotic world."