The Answering Machine

The Answering Machine is a theatre production by Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions with text by Finn Iunker. Finn Iunker wrote the text during a study residency in Amsterdam in 1994 and from his hand it only exists in English.

In the production by Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions the text, which according to Iunker consists of at least ten different voices, performed as a monologue. Actor Fredrik Hannestad is located in what seems to be a living room, with an overcrowded desk, a lamp and an armchair. On the backdrop one can see the contours of a metropolis, and the video projections during the performance testify that what happens onstage not just deals with life as a private matter.

Information

(Objekt ID 3680)
Object type Production
Premiere February 27, 2008
Produced by Verk Produksjoner
Coproducers Black Box Teater
Based on The Answering Machine by Finn Iunker
Audience Adults
Language Norwegian
Expressions Multidisciplinary, Post-dramatic theatre, Monologue, Video, Theatre, Multimedia, Music, Performance
Running period February 27, 2008  
Duration 77 minutes
Website VERK Produksjoner

Requirements to venue

Blackout Yes
More

While the written text in The Answering Machine by Finn Iunker play out against a Central European background and the I of the text is continuously moving through different cities, the production of Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions has added a historical dimension. The man onstage stands in a historical setting, which is in particular made clear through the video projections, which according to critic IdaLou Larsen switch between the personal (two hands) and what she calls a "kaleidoscope-like historical flashback across the 20th Century."

The text The Answering Machine has no unambiguous action. The reader can glimpse a main character in first person, but she or he can be more than one. As a reader one is thrown between travelogues and references to the subject of logic, scientific-theoretical questions and problems raising teenage girls. It may be about, according to Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions, to experience and recall, and perhaps also about the impossibility of both.

Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions refers to the text as "a tight-fitted prose text" and further means that "if it hadn’t been for the subtitle, a text for a theatre, there would have been no sign the text was intended to be just – a text for the theatre". Further the company writes that the theatre texts of Finn Iunker gain little from a psychological approach in staging. "For that the texts are too stylised."

The play had its Norwegian premiere at BIT Teatergarasjen in 1994 in a production by the Belgian company tg STAN. The Answering Machine has also been staged by the American director John Jesurun, who chose to use six actors, as opposed to tg STan and Verk, both performing the production as a monologue.

Sources:

Black Box Teater Oslo, http://www.blackbox.no/, 25.10.2010, http://www.blackbox.no/content/titlePresentation.php?tid=2018&displayNav=false

Larsen, IdaLou (29.02.2008). Review titled Ingen svar på evige spørsmål (literally: No answers to the eternal questions). Klassekampen [Oslo], s 17.

Contributors
Name Role
Finn Iunker – Playwright
Kristian Seltun – Translation (sammen med Verk Produksjoner)
Anders Mossling – Idea (Sammen med Verk Produksjoner)
Saila Hyttinen – Direction
Kristian Seltun – Dramaturge
Signe Becker – Stage design
Amanda Steggell – Video/Film
Per Platou – Sound design
Tilo Hahn – Lighting design
Fredrik Hannestad – Actor
Festivals
The Contemporary Stage Festival September 16, 2009
Press coverage

Leinslie, Elisabeth (29.02.2008). Review titled Øyeblikkets teater (literally: Theatre of the moment). Dagsavisen.no: Dagsavisen, http://www.dagsavisen.no/, 25.10.2010, http://www.dagsavisen.no/kultur/article337596.ece:
"The tangible expressions are to a large degree mixed with abstract expressions. And in this range between the tangible and the abstract the interaction between text, sound, video and stage design excels. These work very well together, so well it sometimes seem to be a fight for Hannestad, interacting with the expressive room. In some scenes, however, he has a particularly firm hold of the text, and at these times, he plays the performance up to an impressive level."

Larsen, IdaLou (29.02.2008). Review titled Ingen svar på evige spørsmål (literally: No answers to the eternal questions). Klassekampen [Oslo], s 17:
"It is hard, not to say impossible, to process all the sudden throws and changes of the text. Continuously new ideas are cut. There is a confusing myriad of fragmentary observations of lived life, and memories about short meetings between people, while the "I" of the monologue desperately try to use logic, science and philosophy to follow the long lines and structure the human existence in the world. (...) The more impressive that Verk Produksjoner AKA Verk Productions has, through an intelligent and often unexpected reading in depth, managed to provide The Answering Machine with dramaturgic intensity as well as human tension."

Oppedal, Torbjørn (07.03.2008) Review titled Europas fall og andre snurrepiperier (literally: The fall of Europe and other oddities). Morgenbladet [Oslo]:
"One can question if the expression of performance art, the consciously confounding magnitude of signs, is functional for a text such as The Answering Machine. It doesn’t seem that the text’s own power is trusted. It demands total concentration, and the stage design derails and drowns more than it adds perspectives. Such the performance suffers a bit under its own innovation. There is material for four or five good productions while Verk compresses the whole 20th century into one hour and fifteen minutes."