Premiére date14 Mar. 2014
Produced byThe Theatre of Cruelty
Based onSvanhild by Henrik Ibsen
Running period14 Mar. 2014  

About Svanhild

Svanhild (2014) is a theatre production by The Theatre of Cruelty. Svanhild is based on an incomplete play by Henrik Ibsen with the same title, a prosa draft from 1860 that became the inspiration for the first act of Love's Comedy (1862), written in rhyme. The production was performed in The Theatre of Cruelty's own facilities in Hausmania.

In many aspects director Lars Øyno continued his work from staging Ibsen's incomplete opera The Mountain Bird (2009) in Svanhild.

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Press review

Hild Borchgrevink, date unknown, Dagsavisen [Oslo]:
"Svanhild is an incomplete work, with all of what that opens of mythology, and it is now performed for the very first time. That is in itself a reason to see the piece. In addition, it is rather entertaining."

Inger Merete Hobbelstad, date unknown, Dagbladet [Oslo]: 
"The force of this successful production is: The good fingerspitzgefühl for the epoch and the environment, and a satiric edge nicely in hand with genuine merriment."

Giuliano D’Amico, date unknown, Dag og Tid [Oslo]:  
"The fragmentary, short nature of the text also contributes to making the whole thing even more concise and on point."

Idalou Larsen, Kunsten og kvinnen (literally: Art and the woman), 20.03.2014, [Oslo]:
"Among many other things, Lars Øyno's thorough interpretation of Svanhild puts an until now neglected theme in Ibsen's writing in the limelight: The typical, and here rather diabolical acting style of The Theatre of Cruelty gives out the young Ibsen's immature ideas of the man's right to literally sacrifice the woman to make his own artist dreams come true."

Lillian Bikset, Avslørt idyll (literally: The idyll revealed), Norsk Shakespeare- og teatertidsskrift no. 2-/3 2014, [Oslo]:  
"Ibsen's short and incomplete text - in which conventions are confronted and ridiculed - and Øyno's aesthetic - which does the same thing - make up a suitable combination. The form becomes the material, and aspects that are only hinted in the text become corporal, expanded. In his dialogue, Lars Øyno has kept strictly to the original text. The language forms are not modernised, and letters that are normally left unpronounced, are pronounced, such as in 'bed-ste-fa-der' and 'bed-ste-mo-der'. The actors dwell on the text to a degree that is near parody. The tone is melodramatically declamation-like, the pace is slow, and every syllable is pronounced. 'Bag-ef-ter.' This underlines the performance's character of caricature, but also how central the theme of suffocating conventions is. Svanhild brings up several of Ibsen's main themes; the damaging effect of the illusion, marriage as an economic transaction, the use of other people for one's own purpose. The main theme is still how paralysing it is, to live under such rigid social conventions."

More about Svanhild

At the webpage of The Theatre of Cruelty the following, among other things, is written about Svanhild:

"As in The Mountain Bird the woman is central. Svanhild is a strong character, conscious of herself, and she points forward to several of Ibsen's later female characters.

Svanhild plays out during a fair summer's day in the bourgeois idyll of Skillebekk, where people live sheltered and protected. The mood is characterised by etiquette and conformity. The idea of the surrounding world is twisted or non-existing. All breaks from the illusory harmony must be removed, at any cost. Can The Theatre of Cruelty, through drawing the tradition from Antonin Artaud into Mrs. Halm's 'enclosed garden in Drammensveien', 150 years back, add unexpected topicality to Ibsen's play?"

The play was performed without adding or removing words from Ibsen's text.

The production is again performed as part of The Ibsen Festival 2014.


The archive of The Theatre of Cruelty, donated by The Theatre of Cruelty, 05.02.2014.

The Theatre of Cruelty,

The Theatre of Cruelty, press release. 10.07.2015

The National Library of Norway, performance program digitised by The National Library of Norway, transferred to Sceneweb 13.08.2015

The National Theatre, program for The Ibsen Festival 2014,!.b7C_wRnG5W.ips