Jo Strømgren Kompani (Norway)
Saturday, September 12
60 min.DescriptionAbout the ArtistInterview
“The human nature is and has always been to be tempted to cross whatever borders there are.” Jo Strømgren, director of The Border
“An excellent production that resonates on many levels.” Adi Paxton, Artsmart
A man and a woman, each lacking in social grace and neither understanding the other’s language, share an office in the northernmost diplomatic outpost of the world. Soon their workplace veneer of mutual respect crumbles into a territorial war of procedure and power. But with the discovery of an emotional addiction to each other, The Border becomes a complicated love story that explores the difficulties of connections in adult life.
This stunning duet weaves theater and dance, humor and sensuality, to tell a story that unfolds from a classic drama into the surreal dynamics of irrational human behavior. Border conflicts exist everywhere: between nations, lovers, enemies, dreams and reality, the past and the future. It is only natural to want to cross them, even when it’s against one’s better judgment.
3 by Strømgren at the 2015 Fringe Festival: Special retrospective of the Jo Strømgren Kompani features The Border, There, and the all-new A Doll’s House. Catch this unique opportunity to see the breadth of work from Scandinavia’s most innovative performing arts company.
Support for The Border is provided by The Norwegian Arts Council and the Norwegian Consulate General.
Festival Star Producers Alan and Nancy Hirsig
Executive Producer Tobey and Mark Dichter
Executive Producer David Seltzer
Producer Carol Klein and Lawrence Spitz
Producer Christie Hartwell
Producer Norman and Suzanne Cohn
About Jo Strømgren Kompani
Jo Strømgren Kompani, founded in 1998, has become one of the best known independent groups in Scandinavia, with 100–200 performances in 10–20 countries annually. Strømgren’s style is characterized by a peculiar mix of dance and theater, with puppet theater, film, and live music often added. He also has a career as a freelance choreographer, theater director, and playwright. The Border is a collaboration between Jo Strømgren Kompani and one of the northernmost theaters in the world, Hålogaland Teater in Tromsø, Norway.
Past Festival shows The Society, The European Lesson, The Convent.
Photos: Knut Bry & Eirik Brenne Torsethaugen
Interview with Jo Strømgren
Jo Strømgren: The Border is a simple title with many associations. The first association is geographical—the border between Norway and Russia in the Arctic region. Secondly I split the stage in two with a masculine and a feminine part, a gender border. Third, I make the two protagonists not understand each other’s language—language border. And then on to the text I focus on the cultural border between the two, in life philosophy, in childhood references, in psychological issues. And human nature is and has always been to be tempted to cross whatever borders there are.
FringeArts: What inspired this production?
Jo Strømgren: The idea came when deciding to do a production in collaboration with the northernmost institutional theater in the world, in Tromsø, Norway. The closeness to Russia, and consequently a turbulent border history, became a natural backdrop for a show. I thought it would be okay to take on a local theme, since border problems are relevant in the whole world. During the production I was invited to a border treaty-signing event, since I have been present in the Russian cultural scene over the last few decades, and got to shake hands with President Medvedev. But shaking hands is not synonymous with trusting each other. Now Norway and Russia are in conflict again. Like old lovers.
FringeArts: What interests you about the more emotional borders in the play?
Jo Strømgren: I find emotional or psychological issues more interesting for theater than academic or political or intellectual ones. There were periods where I felt I needed to do a lot of research before each production but at one point I realized that everyone has all the necessary info about how life and the world works. I think that everything we need to know is already seen in the schoolyard. When people still ask questions like, “How was WWII possible?” I keep thinking, Didn’t you go to elementary school?
FringeArts: What did you concentrate on when fine-tuning the show in rehearsal?
Jo Strømgren: Fine-tuning was much about finding a succession of events that with timing and change of genre could create a formula of its own. I wanted the mix of ingredients to be personal, or at least original to the show itself. Such fine-tuning requires a bit from a performer since most performers are trained in a special genre or technique or method. An actor should learn to move without looking like a fish on land, and a dancer should learn to act without, well, looking like a dancer acting. Haha. Oh dear. We have seen many an interesting version of that. But perhaps most important is to find what I very often miss in stage arts—charm. The amateur touch, but still being professional. Audiences like getting impressed, but they identify more with someone slightly clumsy and natural. So you could say the fine-tuning was much about obtaining a pedestrian charm.
WRITE BACK ATCHA!
thINKingDANCE will host three FREE post-performance “write-back” events after performances during the FringeArts festival this September. Write Back atcha is a post-show “talk-back” combined with a mini-writing workshop, where we will guide audience members through an exploration of the language they use to describe dance. Write Back atcha provides an opportunity for audiences to deepen their engagement with the work on view as well as hone their writing skills with mentored feedback. Questionnaires with simple prompts will be provided to all audience members before the show. Participating audience members’ responses will be collected after the workshop and collated into a crowd-sourced “review” of the performance, which will be published the next day on thINKingDANCE’s website.
The Border Write-Back
After the September 11 Performance
Workshop Leaders: Kirsten Kaschock & Carolyn Merrit
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