Go Deeper

Jo Strømgren drops in on the Festival

Posted June 3rd, 2008

This summer, Norwegian director/choreographer Jo Strømgren will create a world premiere work for the Live Arts Festival, entitled The European Lesson. Last week, Jo visited Philadelphia for a day to work with Aaron Cromie, Jeb Kreager, Catharine Slusar, and John Zak, who will star in Strømgren’s new work this September. The group started their day at The Second Mile Center in West Philly, where they had lots of fun taking photos and buying old Phillies t-shirts on the cheap, and then they came over to the Arts Bank, where they had a few hours of workshop time before meeting with Live Arts friends, donors, and staff to talk a little bit about the show…

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Aaron, Catharine, and John put on their Slovak suits. Photo by Manny Dominguez.The European Lesson will feature an American anthropologist (played by Jeb Kreager) presenting a lecture on Slovakians and Slovak culture. Cromie, Pig Iron’s Sarah Sanford, Slusar, and Zak will play a somewhat dysfunctional Slovak family, speaking in a Slovak-inspired tongue, one of Strømgren’s signature faux languages. Strømgren explained that the show will reference the early twentieth century practice of putting tribal peoples on exhibition at large fairs and circuses (he told us a brief story about the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, where the presentation of a faux Congolese caused significant political controversy), while simultaneously poking fun at cultural exoticism, and international political and cultural misconceptions as they are today. Learn more about The European Lesson.