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Peer Gynt

Peer Gynt (2005) was a theatre production by The Norwegian Theatre in Oslo in collaboration with The National Stage in Bergen, Bergen International Festival and Hundreårsmarkeringen Norge 2005 (the committee for Norway's 100 year anniversary as an independent country. It was based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. The production was first performed at The Norwegian Theatre's main stage in Oslo, next at The National Stage in Bergen.

Robert Wilson directed it.

Henrik Rafaelsen interpreted the role of young Peer. He was given The Norwegian Critics' Award for his work with the role. Endre Hellestveit played the adult Peer and Sverre Bentzen the old Peer.

Wenche Medbøe played Mother Aase.

Kjersti Botn Sandal played Solveig.

Peer Gynt won The Hedda Award 2005 in the production of the year category.

April 11-16 2006, Peer Gynt was performed as a visiting performance at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York.


(Objekt ID 5953)
Object type Production
Premiere February 19, 2005
Produced by The Norwegian Theatre, The National Stage, Bergen International Festival
Based on Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
Audience Adults
Audience size 42379
Number of events 86
Language Norwegian Nynorsk
Keywords Theatre, Drama
Running period February 19, 2005  
Duration Three hours, 50 minutes

Requirements to venue

Blackout Yes

At the webpage of The Norwegian Theatre the following, among other things, is written about Peer Gynt, directed by Robert Wilson:

"Robert Wilson is responsible for direction as well as stage design and lighting design. Jon Fosse has translated Ibsen into New Norwegian, and the music is written particularly for the production by Michael Galasso. We meet Peer Gynt in three different phases of his life, played by three men: Henrik Rafaelsen, Endre Hellestveit and Sverre Bentzen.


Finally in Norway
Nothing was the ordinary way when Wilson in November 2003 visited the theatres in Bergen and Oslo for the first time. This was an audition with one of the very greatest instructors. The actors got numbers. They were to walk a meter in three minutes. This was like the first day of school.

Betty Nansen Teatret in Denmark experienced enormous success with the production Woyzeck, directed by Wilson himself. In Copenhagen he also created the production The White Town about the architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for Bellevue Teatret, and at Stockholm City Theatre he staged his own distinct versions of Three Sisters and A Dream Play. In 1998 The Norwegian Theatre staged The Black Rider, signed Robert Wilson, Tom Waits and William Burroughs. The direction was by Carl Jørgen Kiønig. Since then we have only wanted more. Now it is finally Norway's turn to be visited by this renaissance person of a theatre genius. He has staged two plays by Ibsen before, but never Peer Gynt. He is happy that is to happen in Norway.

"Further and beyond"
During the early 1960es the architect Wilson travelled from Texas to New York. With visual artists, choreographer pioneers such as Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, Martha Graham and John Cage, musicians and theatre professionals he began processing brand new and experimental theatre genres. This was the start of an extraordinary theatre career ranging across sculpture, video production, stage design, architecture, performance art, dance – and foremost, a huge number of theatre and opera productions. Let us sum up some of them: In 1971 Wilson gained international acknowledge for his 'silent opera' A Deafman Glance, created with deaf and mute Raymond Andrews. The French surrealist Louis Aragon wrote about Wilson that he was 'what we, from whom Surrealism was born, dreamed would come after us and go beyond us'.

International production
Later Wilson has made a deep imprint in American as well as European theatre. First with his own theatre company The Byrd Company in New York, later in the European theatre stage where he was a sensation with his own plays as well as texts by Gertrude Stein, Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller and Tankred Dorst and classical material such as Medea and Hamlet. At Thaila Theater in Hamburg he was during the 1990es part of creating the term 'art musical', with productions such as Alice, The Black Rider (both with music by Tom Waits) and Time Rocker (music by Lou Reed). Great successes, large audiences.

Most of the Wilson productions have been produced in collaboration with several institutions, and are performed at several places across the world. From 1992 he has rented his own cultural factory, Watermill Center in Long Island. There ideas and projects are cultivated in collaboration between Wilson and his co-workers."

Peer Gynt by The Norwegian Theatre and The National Stage won The Hedda Award 2005 in the production of the year category.

The Hedda Jury gave the following reason:

"The production of the year actually is unique in our theatre reality at home, anno 2005. Not just because of its text: That is familiar and loved. And even though we still stick relatively close to traditions in our little part of the world, we also have experienced utterly different, often surprising, interpretations of it several times before. Still, this interpretation represents something new in Norwegian theatre.

The Norwegian critics had no doubt; a collective critics'corps brought forth the superlatives: 'A grand performance', 'a visual theatre experience we will remember for a long time', 'great, image-rich modern totality theatre', 'liberatingly different'. Even Swedish newspapers went to Oslo, and wrote home about 'exquisitely beautiful... dream-like play of mourning'. So diverse were the aspects of the production that were underlined, there can be no doubt that it was rich and many-faceted.

The production of the year Hedda goes to Peer Gynt as directed by Robert Wilson, the fruit of an utterly successful collaboration between The Norwegian Theatre and The National Stage."

Henrik Rafaelsen won The Norwegian Critics' Award for theatre 2004/2005 for his role as the young Peer.

Jan H. Landro said the following, among other things, in his award ceremony speech on behalf of Norwegian Critics' Association:

"As an actor today's award winner has loyally bent for the instructor's demanding concept to contribute to a theatrical experience we have barely seen the like of at Norwegian stages.

He has not just documented his familiarity with a form that for most Norwegian actors must seem unknown and desperately different; at the same time he has taken the liberty to play with this form in a way strengthening the whole without in any disturbing way promoting the actor for himself. Virtuously and secure in form, but also richly nuancing he manages to give life to the very classic character of Norwegian theatre and drama history."


Repertoire at The Norwegian Theatre 1913-2014. Transferred to Sceneweb 08.09.2015.

The Norwegian Theatre, Peer Gynt, www.detnorsketeatret.no, http://www.detnorsketeatret.no/index.php?option=com_play&view=play&playid=256

The Norwegian Theatre, digitised performance program, transferred by The National Library of Norway 08.07.2014

Sceneweb on The Hedda Award 2005, www.sceneweb.no, 17.10.2012, http://www.sceneweb.no/en/awarding/23849/The_Hedda_Award_2005-2005

Norwegian Critics' Association, kritikerlaget.no, 29.09.2011, http://www.kritikerlaget.no/pages/nor/170-henrik_rafaelsen_mottok_aarets_teaterkritikerpris

Performance dates
April 16, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
April 15, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
April 14, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
April 13, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
April 12, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
April 11, 2006Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM, New York visiting performance
May 25, 2005Store Scene, The National Stage New opening
February 19, 2005Hovudscenen, The Norwegian Theatre Opening night
Festivals (1)
Press coverage

Jørgen Alnæs, Dagsavisen:

"...a visual theatre experience we will not soon forget. (...) The wild and the crazy in Peer Gynt have been taken seriously - in an incredibly precise interaction between speech, music, physical movement and light or sound." 

Jan Landro, Bergens Tidende:

"In The National Stage's format, where the visual elements are not allowed to dazzle like at The Norwegian Theatre, it becomes clearer what Wilson has to add to the theatre. First and last he is an image maker and an architect. What he offers us, with great ability as a 'painter' is movable images to a play we are, to a higher or lesser degree, already familiar with."

Awards - Nominations (1)