Punishment - Game of Sorrow (2012) is a production by Hordaland Theatre. Punishment was a mourning play by Tore Vagn Lid, who also directed the production.

Punishment was the first part of Tore Vagn Lid's Game of Sorrow trilogy. The second play was Kill them all! at The National Theatre in 2013, the third was The Gospel of Judas during The Ultima Festival at The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet in 2013.

The mourning plays have no "actors" and no "musicians", no "singers", but only players, or performers. Inspired by the old board games' rules and narratives, the aim has been to find an expression reconciling a societal overview with existential insight, to seek the individual in the system and the system in the individual, and to seek contexts and rules that unite seemingly isolated and individual destinies in one and the same game.


(Objekt ID 31091)
Object type Production
Premiere September 21, 2012
Produced by Det Vestnorske Teateret
Based on Straff by Tore Vagn Lid
Audience Youth, Adults (from 15)
Language Norwegian Nynorsk
Expressions Musical theatre, Theatre, Political Theatre, Passion Play
Running period September 21, 2012  —  October 19, 2012
Website Hordaland Teater, Straff blogg

Artistic director Trond Birkedal of Hordaland Theatre writes the following in the performance program for Punishment:

"About 27 years have passed since the first time I was in jail. Not as a prisoner, but as an actor. Since then there have been times when I have been thinking: What is the purpose of prison punishment? Or what will the alternative be? Leading a theatre, my privilege is to be able to choose initiating such an artistic research project. In the meeting with the prison in Bergen, and with Tore Vagn Lid, the opportunity became obvious. I hope you, too, get something to reflect upon."

Director and playwright Tore Vagn Lid writes the following in the program for Punishment:

"The punishment may be hidden where you least expect to find it.

It is kind of in the character of the case that only a few of us have tangible experiences with the ultimate 'inside' of punishment - the prison.

For the majority this place - with its walls, cells, keys and locks - remains something dark and unknown, a closed world we (luckily) have been cut off from. But in that case it is also in the character of the case that we are cut off from the very experience of what this punishment is. To put it differently: Even though we have a clear idea - the term of words - only some very few have an experience of it. And is that not what punishment in the experience is, and must be, for something to be a punishment, must it not be experienced as just that? Then the question is: Is it possible that these experiences are not easily identified in the rules of the court, in the years and days of the law, in the sum of the fine, in the number of square meters of the cell? Whatever the answer, this is what motivates Punishment as an art project - not a documentary project. For like most people know; an experience is hard to generalise or document, but experience may still be translated. And few rooms can be more apt for this than the expanded space of the theatre, in the shift of material between stage and music."

Musical material: H. Villa-Lobos (12 etudes), J.S. Bach (Chaconne), Lee Skratch Parry (Set them free), L. Boccerini (Passacalle), A. Barrios-Mangore (La ultima tremolo), Leo Brouwer (La spiral eterna), Diaroi (Omaggio A Che Guera), M. de Falla (Hommenaje, pour le tombeau De Debussy).

The artists want to thank: Bergen Prison, Ingvill Rosenlund, UNA West, the TV campaign in Hordaland, the TV campaign in Bergen, BKK, Øyvind Lyslo, Birte Molven Fjellro and Andrea Tiller from the upper secondary school of Fyllingdalen and Stig Rismo from the upper secondary school of Stend. A particular thanks to the six prisoners of Bergen Prison who have contributed input, stories and thoughts.


The performance program for Punishment.

Hordaland Theatre, hordalandteater.no, 18.10.2012, http://www.hordalandteater.no/default.aspx?pageId=39&articleId=93

Performance dates
October 19, 2012Hallen – Show
October 18, 2012Hallen – Show
September 26, 2012Logen – Show
September 25, 2012Logen – Show
September 22, 2012Logen – Show
September 22, 2012Logen – Show
September 21, 2012Logen – Worldwide premiere
Press coverage

Charlotte Myrbråten, date unknown, Bergens Tidende:
"Onstage courage, and an important opinion piece on what punishment ought to be. [...] Punishment is aesthetically challenging and initiates several reflection processes on who decides what is punishment. [...] Delicately performed onstage by Vagn Lid […] an effectful opinion piece, staged with original solutions.”

Nils Olav Sæverås, date unknown, Bergensavisen [Bergen]:
”When Vagn Lid manages the controls, one has to expect a conceptual form of theatre with a rich selection of effects. One has to expect that many questions are posed and that few answers are given, and one also ought to count on some provocations. Traditional drama with the drawing of character and emotional involvement there will usually be less of. [...] After some twelve years in the circus ring, the audience is familiar with Vagn Lid's theatrical expression […] With this as the backdrop, Punishment is nevertheless among the most thought-provoking Vagn Lid has presented in more recent years. [...] The most provocative effect is when recordings from the trial against Anders Behring Breivik are used as a sound effect. It supports a theme Vagn Lid has examined at an earlier time, too, the flaws of diagnoses. Still one gets a start, at the prelude of a strong end.” 

Karoline Skuseth, Spørsmål uten svar (literally: Questions without answers), 25.09.2012, Scenekunst.no [Oslo]:
"Behind us and around us they let the string instruments fill the room with complexly arranged tones, creating an absurd contrast to the clinical reality we face. [...] the musical dramaturgy (makes) it impossible to let thoughts wander. [...]  The question of authenticity becomes another - we know that the voices belong to six prisoners in Bergen Prison, giving life to fictional stage characters. But one still gets the feeling that they are onstage or in the room with us, even though that is impossible. [...] We are placed deep into Vagn Lid's problem universe - determinism, to be born with an already stated aim. [...] If he keeps it up like this, he may very well make himself mandatory."

Writer and date unknown, Frontlosjen.com:
"The prison is a game where no piece reaches its aim. That is clear from Punishment, The Game of Sorrow at Logen."