Mater Nexus

Premiére date31 Jan. 2001
Produced byHouse of Stories
CoproducersThe Open Theatre (Det Åpne Teater)
In collaboration withThe Norwegian Theatre
Based onMater Nexus by Lene Therese Teigen
AudienceAdults
LanguageNorwegian
ExpressionsTheatre, Video
Running period31 Jan. 2001  —  17 Feb. 2001
Duration2 hours and 15 minutes (20 minutes of interval)
WebsiteDet Åpne Teater, House of Stories

About Mater Nexus

Mater Nexus (2001) was a theatre production by House of Stories/Lene Therese Teigen. Mater Nexus is a play about the great issues of life: Love, career, the parenting role, illness and death. What do we expect from life? What is succeeding and what is being happy?

The stage text was developed over a three year long period, including in workshops at The Open Theatre (Det Åpne Teater) with a total of 25 involved actors.

There are 13 female roles in the text, and since the opening in 2001 it has also been produced in Stockholm, Helsinki, Gothenburg and Tokyo. University papers have been written about Mater Nexus, at The University of Oslo and The University of Bergen.

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Press review

Jon Refsdal Moe, 09.02.2001, Elegi over det nye borgerskapet (literally: Elegy over the new bourgeois), Morgenbladet [Oslo]:
"The Open Theatre (Det Åpne Teater) has through many years worked hard to front new Norwegian drama in its venue near the square Grønlands Torg. So it does this time, by staging the world wide premiere of the three-act play by Lene Therese Teigen. The drama is new and Norwegian, developed over a period of three years in collaboration between all the involved in the performance. Besides the text has already awoken attention across the country borders, and when there is no doubt about the literary quality of the drama, either, the project Mater Nexus is immediately to compare with a success."

IdaLou Larsen, 01.02.2001, Tre satser for ni kvinner (literally: Three movements for nine women), Nationen [Oslo]:
"The relationship between mother and child, perhaps in particular between mother and daughter, is one of the most important topics in Mater Nexus, and I experienced Lene Therese Teigen’s text and scenic language as the deepest seen most feminist I have ever seen onstage. Without hesitation she raises a number of the problems and dilemmas women meet today - like the conflict between professional life and the role of being a mother, between use of power and care, between realising one's potential and recognising one's self. And she does it nuanced and without prejudice. [...] This would naturally have been impossible without the nine performers' nuanced and precise constructions of their characters. With Marianne Krogh in the lead they all create defined, living persons we believe in. Lene Therese Teigen also has a fine ear for the many subtle nuances of the language, and with the actors she manages the mastery of making the monologues seem entirely natural. Lene Therese Teigen also has directed Mater Nexus herself, and basically it is filled with dangers to let the playwright be her own director. This production is the exception proving the rule."

Hans Rossiné, 08.02.2001, En kvinnelig Norén (literally: A female Norén) , Dagbladet [Oslo], (07.11.2010, http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2001/02/08/240673.html):
 "[...] For both in the universe of Norén and in the world of Teigen we meet a wide screen showing post-Chekhovian people drifting, filled with sorrows and longings, eternally hunting for the meaning and coherence of life they once had, or think they once had. [...] simple and pure stage design with columns and autumn leaves we see the nine women, at first in a child-like paradise-like state of happiness, before the setting changes and life shows up with its wounds and scars. And then we are led into pure Norén-like dialogues and situations with conversations floating like life, incoherent and coherent, soon poetic, soon everyday realist, soon mysterious.[...] Direction isn’t always as tight, but the acting is great and solid, and reflects female life and contemporary issues in a non-pretentious, meaningful way."

Borghild Maaland, 02.02.2001, Det Åpnet Teater (literally: The Opened Theatre) , VG [Oslo]:
"The play is a bit too long and somewhat uneven. But what is good in return has tremendous kick. When the women leave the stage with each their suitcase, they are carrying many female burdens. The whole thing is observed with humour and melancholy."

More about Mater Nexus

Halldis Hoaas, dramaturge for Mater Nexus by Lene Therese Teigen, wrote the following (and more) in the performance program:

"At one level one can it be claimed that the text discusses the modern female role in itself – the demand for success in love life and professional life, in the mother role and the role of the care provider, these demands which are seemingly impossible to unite.

Central in the text is the one thing that separates woman from man: Woman is who gives birth. The child – or the lack of child - is a central element when women define for themselves whether they have succeeded in life. In this perspective, Mater Nexus is a woman play at many levels – but first and foremost it moves along the human level, about life and death, about life passing through us when a child is made, about life passing through us with the choices we make, time passing, events happening to us, the people we attach ourselves to.

We see our own death, or what is said to be the very worst: Our own child’s death. Female play? Yeah, well, but first and foremost a play about human conditions in the world we have created for ourselves and which we are shaped by."

Ingeborg Winderen Owesen, cand.philol and member of the editorial board of the journal Agora, freelance researcher, wrote this and more in the theatre program:

"With its nine speaking women, Mater Nexus is neither a monologue nor a dialogue. A more appropriate term would be polylogue, introduced by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and the feminist theorist Julia Kristeva. Whereas a monologue is a speech for one, and dialogue a conversation between two, a polylogue is an action of conversation consisting of several voices.

For Luce Irigaray language is the springing point for her feminist-based criticism. The symbolic language is mostly created by men. Women lack a language to express particular female experiences, something which leads to a kind of "homelessness" in the language and culture for women, sort of an inner exile. To cure this diagnosis, Hélène Cixous writes out what she calls female writing. Mater Nexus is an example of just that, female writing.

Despite there being countless female writers in our part of the world, subjects such as giving birth and breastfeeding and so on are paradoxically still taboos. Mater Nexus courageously breaks with this taboo."

During the last part of the Mater Nexus a video film is projected as part of the stage image. For the production Mater Nexus in The Open Theatre (Det Åpne Teater) light designer/photographer Marianne Thallaug Wedset collaborated with Lene Therese Teigen.

45 women in all age groups posed for the video recording, for what became a so-called morphing movie. Slowly a three month old baby transformed into a 100 year old woman, with all the other faces as stages in between.

At the same time Marianne Thallaug Wedset photographed portraits of the women. These photos became the exhibition En mannsalder (literally: Age of Man, a Norwegian idiom for generation) which was exhibited at the same time as Mater Nexus was performed. Later the photo exhibition was displayed in Bergen during Bergen International Festival 2001.

Mater Nexus by House of Stories was supported by Arts Council Norway, The Fund for Performing Artists, The Audio Visual Fund, the municipality of Oslo and The Norwegian Actors’ Equity Association/NAEA’s fund for freelancers.

Sources:

The Open Theatre (Det Åpne Teater), Archive, Mater Nexus

E-mail from Lene Therese Teigen, 12.06.2012

House of Stories, houseofstories.no, 07.11.2010, http://www.houseofstories.no/pages/artikkel0.htm