The Orchestra

In The Orchestra (2007) by Jo Strømgren Kompani the remains of a popular music orchestra are suffering from a serious hangover somewhere deep into the Finnish woods.

The lead singer has left for a solo career in the big city and all they can do is wait and hope for her return. Money has run out, bottles are empty, and the desire to sing is long gone. If a miracle should happen, the timing could not be better. Then one day, a train suddenly stops.

Often one has to hit rock bottom to find the profound values. This is what the performance is about - the sad life and some good reasons to live it. The blue Monday morning feeling is the National Holiday of Finland, and the geographic and cultural frame is chosen deliberately.

Information

(Objekt ID 962)
Object type Production
Premiere May 2007
Produced by Jo Strømgren Kompani
Coproducers BIT Teatergarasjen, The Norwegian Touring Theatre (Riksteatret), Bergen International Festival, Rogaland Theatre
Audience Adults, Youth
Language Gibberish and English
Expressions Theatre, Dance theatre
Running period May 1, 2007  —  December 4, 2008
Duration 65 minutes
Website Jo Strømgren Kompani

Requirements to venue

Minimum stage width 12m
Minimum stage depth 9m
Blackout Yes
Rigging time 620 minutes
Downrigging time 60 minutes
More

Beyond Jo Strømgren Kompani’s familiar hybrid of dance, theatre and live music, The Orchestra contained large doses of pseudo-authentic Finnish speak. The exploration of nonsensical languages as a stage language is a trademark for the company and the invitation to associate freely was as open as it always is. Tervetuloa!!! (Welcome in Finnish).

The Finnish stereotype is strong, at least in Europe. Headless drinking, bottomless pessimism, the everlasting conversation pauses. But still with a mysterious ability to party like no other. The real identity of Finns is more subtle, of course, but this show played actively on general preconceptions. Apart from being a tribute to music and musicians, it was also a tribute to the Finnish perspective on life.

A crisis most places is not necessarily a crisis in Finland. They have a different way of accepting unexpected shifts in either society or spiritual life. As if life is more guaranteed to go on in Finland than other places. Even though it may be ever so heavy and depressing. For non-Nordic viewers, the show has proven to be somewhat of an inspiring perspective on existential themes.

Hitting rock bottom in a cosmopolitan melting pot is radically different from the pitless empty-bottled depression of the rural North-East. For Nordic viewers, to whom the friendly mockery of Finns is a genre in itself, the performance has proven to go beyond normal limits, practically on the verge of being unacceptably indecent. But just on the verge – Finnish audiences themselves have warmly embraced the show.

The Orchestra by Jo Strømgren Kompani was supported by Arts Council Norway and the municipality of Bergen.

Source:

Jo Strømgren Kompani, jskompani.no, 08.08.2010, http://jskompani.no/productions/14

Contributors
Name Role
Jo Strømgren – Direction
Jo Strømgren – Choreography
Jo Strømgren – Stage design
Cathrine Gudmestad – Costume
Ken Ruben Theodorsen – Sound design
Lars Årdal – Sound design
Stephen Rolfe – Lighting design
Ulla Marie Broch – Actor
Ingrid Enger Damon – Actor
Hanne Gjerstad Henrichsen – Actor
Gunhild Aubert Opdal – Actor
Jo Strømgren – Props
Knut Bry – Photo
Hans Jaran Skogen – Sound technician
Ken Ruben Theodorsen – Sound technician
Leila Sunniva Berg – Lighting technician
Lise Risom Olsen – Lighting technician
Solfrid Glesnes – Producer
Tine Rude – Producer
Ann-Christin Danhammar – Administration
Performance dates
December 4, 2008Hovedscenen – Show
December 3, 2008Hovedscenen – Show
June 17, 2008Herøyahuset , Porsgrunn International Theatre Festival – Show
June 16, 2008Herøyahuset , Porsgrunn International Theatre Festival – Show
April 7, 2008Nordanåteatern
    (
  • )
– Show
April 5, 2008Norrbottensteatern – Show
April 2, 2008Christinasalen (The Christina Venue), Arena Piteå – Show
March 1, 2008Teatern
    (
  • )
– Show
February 26, 2008Biscenen i Kristiansand Teater – Show
February 14, 2008Amfiscenen – Show
Navember 11, 2007BIT Teatergarasjen – Show
Navember 10, 2007BIT Teatergarasjen – Show
Navember 9, 2007BIT Teatergarasjen – Show
June 4, 2007BIT Teatergarasjen – Show
June 3, 2007BIT Teatergarasjen – Show
May 2007 – Worldwide premiere
Press coverage

Writer and date unknown, Morgenbladet [Oslo]:
"A wonderful, absurd experience that appeals to the joyful pessimist in us all."

Writer and date unknown, Svenska Dagbladet [Sweden]:
"The Orchestra is a tragicomic gem."

Writer and date unknown, Stavanger Aftenblad [Stavanger]:
"It’s raw, vulgar and hysteric and you can’t do anything but laugh."