The Chairs

The Chairs was a theatre production by The Norwegian Theatre, produced in 1993, and based on the play by Eugene Ionesco.

Harry Guttormsen directed it.

At the webpage of The Norwegian Theatre the following, among other things, is written about The Chairs:

"We offer a piece of anti-theatre by the great master of the absurd theatre tradition with the 'tragic farce' The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco. Here we are entangled in madcap situations, taking unexpected, hair-raising turns, outside of the control of the humans onstage. The words run away with them, and their existences are turned upside-down."


(Objekt ID 35229)
Object type Production
Premiere Navember 24, 1993
Produced by The Norwegian Theatre
Based on The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco
Audience Adults
Audience size 1732
Number of events 28
Language Norwegian dialect
Keywords Theatre of the absurd, Theatre
Running period Navember 24, 1993  

At the webpage of The Norwegian Theatre the following, among other things, is written about The Chairs:

"He is 95 years old. She is 94. They have been married for 75 years, and the husband has not become what he should have become in life, his wife finds. For instance he could have become a chief navy secretary, a chief carpenter master, a chief electrician, a chief theatre theorist or a chief marshal of the court. Instead he is nothing but a caretaker, and now it is too late. But now he has decided to make a speech to the whole wide world. Not being much of a speaker, he has rented a professional speaker to speak in his name. And everyone is invited to listen. The two old ones are busy finding chairs and talk to all the people who ring the bell to their withdrawn lives. Eventually the space is so crowded they can barely move. The only thing lacking is the speaker...


Ionesco deals with ordinary situation and manages to make very ordinary people in ordinary dialogues seem incredibly comical. The Rumanian-French absurdist Ionesco has played a significant role in newer performing arts with what he called 'anti-theatre'. Personally he felt uncomfortable in the theatre, and he found it embarrassing, being called a playwright. He couldn't stand the usual theatre conventions. According to himself it was near random that he became a theatre worker. He was really only to learn English, but found the sentences in his English text book so comical he wrote a play out of them.

Two years ago we had an audience success with the two Ionesco one-act plays The Lesson, in which the teacher killed his pupil, and The Bald Soprano, which was not about a singer at all. Now we follow it up with another as absurd, as comical and as incredible play by the same author.


Eugene Ionesco (1912-**) Rumanian-French writer and painter who has played a significant role within newer performing arts with his 'anti-theatre'. Through ridiculing usual theatre conventions he illustrates a state of crisis within the theatre. He often shows the absurd within ordinary situations, how language, supposedly a means to communication between people, is insufficient, and how words have lost content. The human being is placed in a world he (or she) doesn't understand; values crumble.

Among his best-known plays are The Bald Soprano (1950), The Lesson (1951), The Chairs (1952), Rhinoceros (1959), Exit the King (1962) and Killing Game (1970). During the 1960es and 70es he became known for his reflections upon moral and aesthetic problems, and he criticised contemporary literature for no longer caring about the great metaphysical and existential issues.

'I have called my comedies 'anti-plays' ('anti-pieces'), or 'comic dramas' and my dramas 'pseudo-dramas' or 'tragic farces' because it seems to me that the comic is tragic and that the human tragedy is pure derision. The contemporary critical mind will take nothing too seriously or too lightly.'."


The Norwegian Theatre,, 07.08.2013,

**Sceneweb's comment: Ionesco died in 1994, but the above quoted text was written and published in 1993.

Contributors (11)
Name Role
Eugène Ionesco – Playwright
Ragnar Olsen – Translation
Harry Guttormsen – Direction
Mia Runningen – Stage design
Mia Runningen – Costume design
Erik Lislebø – Sound
Terje Wolmer – Light
Odd Furøy – Actor (Mannen)
Henny Moan – Actor (Kona)
Niels Peter Underland – Actor (Talaren)
Marit Framstad – Mask design
Performance dates
Navember 24, 1993Scene 3 (tidligere Prøvesalen), The Norwegian Theatre Opening night
Press coverage

Bengt Calmeyer, date unknown, Morsomt med Ionesco - terningkast 5 (literally: Fun with Ionesco - five pips on the dice), Arbeiderbladet [Oslo]:
"The Norwegian (Theatre) provides a very funny theatre evening, illuminated in full by Ionesco's sharp eye and fantastic dialogue art... and with Moan/Furøy as an unbending couple from the northern lands."

Borghild Maaland, date unknown, VG [Oslo]:
"In The Norwegian Theatre's production one swings between the howling comical and the movingly tragic."

Eilif Straume, date unknown, Aftenposten [Oslo]:
"First we conclude that two actors loosen up splendidly, renewing in front of our eyes: Henny Moan and Odd Furøy. Moan is on top like never before... and Furøy's flexibility and humour make excellent acting art. For here madness unfolds. And in that there are many parsels of truth and successful phrasing - in the Northern Norwegian linguistic wrapping of Ragnar Olsen's."