For the last two years, awake or dreaming, I have had only one thing on my mind-Ibsen. Immersed in adapting Peer Gynt in Hindi, my mind has been working on having an Ibsen Theatre Festival in Mumbai. Finally, Peer Gynt is ready as Pir Ghani and the date for the festival draws near. My dream has been realized.
Born under the Zodiac sign, Pisces, (a sign I humbly share with Henrik Ibsen), in a city on the outskirts of the vast, lonely deserts of Rajasthan, perhaps it was destiny that I would be drawn towards water, inspired by Neptune, God of springs, rivers and the seas. And as the Piscean dreamer, I have been initiated from birth into a world of fantasy, making my several worlds between deserts, water and mountains explode into another sphere of fantasy, the theatre.
It was in this world that I came upon the work of Henrik Ibsen. Then in 2010, I was invited to adapt and direct a play by Ibsen for the DADA Festival in New Delhi. Somehow, I was fascinated by the possibilities that The Lady from the Sea offered, especially in the folk tradition. And that was the beginning of my ‘obsession’ with Ibsen. As I worked on the script, placing the story in the arid areas of Rajasthan, it seemed to me as if Ibsen in the 19th century in faraway Norway was addressing issues in Indian society! I could almost feel the relevance of Ibsen in our society even today and I realised that culturally and emotionally, Indians and Norwegians were not too far apart. Ibsen had managed to encapsulate our concerns– women’s issues, relationships, family ties in a changing society—with such skill and understanding, that each one of his readers could empathise and connect with his characters. The adaptation, titled Mareechika (Mirage) was a great success and I rode high on the waves that hit the shores of India and Norway, literally, since subsequently, thanks to the Norwegian Embassy in India, we actually crossed the seas to Norway as invitees to the Ibsen Festival in Oslo in 2012.
My love affair with Ibsen reached a climax when I saw that Ibsen was an icon for people from all walks of life. My horizon expanded and I realized that like Varanasi, Oslo too is a city of temples, its theatres, where people worship their literary gods in awed silence.
Like one obsessed, I saw everything associated with Ibsen and in that chill weather, I embraced him like a shawl, wrapping each memory into my very being. And in the course of my visit, I met three wonderful ‘Ibsen’ people—Kåre Conradi, Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer and Helge Lien. Their performances impressed me so much that I was determined to see these artistes perform before an Indian audience. Thus began the idea of an Ibsen Festival in Mumbai. Ruth is singing on Ibsen’s themes in jazz form while Kare will give an hour-long performance of Peer Gynt which we have seen him present at Oslo. It will be a challenge indeed for our theatre group performing “Pir Ghani” to witness his unforgettable performance.
We are indeed grateful to the Norwegian Embassy for making the Ibsen festival possible.
The first Ibsen Theatre Festival in Mumbai runs from 31 October to 2 November 2014.
Ibsen Company’s Artistic Director Kåre Conradi is appearing in a National Theatret production of Ibsen’s Little Eyolf.
When the dream of the perfect family becomes a nightmare for the children.
We all seem to be concerned with how we relate to our children, but have we forgotten what it really means? Does the facade matter too much? Do we neglect the importance of just being there?
These are the questions director Sofia Jupither poses in Little Eyolf. She has dreamed of staging it for years – and now that this dream has come true, she once again she demonstrates her insight into the world of children.
Eyolf is a child who is not seen. As a baby, he fell from the changing table because his parents, Rita and Alfred, were more concerned with each other than with his safety. In most productions, the emotional warfare between Rita and Alfred is the focus of the play. In Jupither’s version, though, Eyolf is the protagonist. Little Eyolf drowns, and Rita and Alfred – played by Pia Tjelta and Kåre Conradi – do not see what they had until they have lost it.
Of all Ibsen’s plays, Little Eyolf is the one least influenced by the surrounding community. There are no telegrams in locked mailboxes and there is no syphilis; there is only a reference to a steamer. The story is easy to adapt to our own time. The story of the vulnerable child speaks as just as strongly to us today. Ibsen people belong to our time.
The Premiere is Tuesday 9 September and runs until 18 October 2014. Performed in Norwegian, with English subtitles.
With the fjord and Østfold as a backdrop, with the Navy Band as a musical powerhouse, Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt was staged outdoors at Karljohansvern late this summer. Altogether there were 10 performances with Kåre Conradi as the lead role of Peer Gynt. Kåre Conradi and the Navy Band have been partners before. Now they’ve joined forces. Twenty members of the Masken Group are also among the cast.
pArtistic Director of the Theatre Ibsen, Anders T Andersen, explains the importance to the theatre group to use local resources whenever they can. “We’ve heard good things about the Masken group and we are looking forward to becoming acquainted with the theatre forces this town is obviously full of. Both parties have mutually benefit from this, says Andersen. He’s particularly happy that Corey Conradi has agreed to star in the lead role of Peer Gynt.”
“Grounded Peer Gynt”
Tønsberg Blad writes “Corey Conradi has been assigned the role of Peer, who is self-sufficient through thick and thin, in everything. He carries the role effortlessly all the way through to the last sentence. Peer is on stage almost constantly, and it’s a real tour de force. Conradi with Sylvia Salvesen (mother Aase) makes her moment of death one of the many emotional moments in the show. It is beautifully done through a little dance, and thankfully not in the sled as we’ve seen so many times before. Conradi acts so that we are spellbound by his storytelling, he lies so well that we believe in him. He is an amazing actor, musical to his fingertips.”
“Humor, insanity and slightly vulgar”
Gjengangeren writes “Corey Conradi drives game forward with great energy and unmatched enthusiasm, he engages and moves and makes us forget that we are slightly cramped, that Ibsen uses a long time getting his message across and that the summer is undeniably about to turn into fall.”
“Moving and lush Peer Gynt”
Telemark Arbeiderblad writes “Before the nearly three-hour performance is finished, it is clear that Peer in Corey Conradi’s hardworking character has the ability to engage us once again.”
“Magnificent premiere of Peer Gynt”
Vestfold Blad writes “Kåre Conradi starred as Peer when Peer Gynt premiered on Wednesday night in front of a packed grandstand at Karljohansvern in Horten.”
Artistic director of the Norwegian Ibsen Company, Kare Conradi, will play the leading role in a full scale outdoor production of Peer Gynt this summer in Horten, Norway, alongside a cast of about 40 actors.
It will be in cooperation with Teater Ibsen and the Navy Orchestra, directed by award winning theater / film director – and director of the New Los Angeles Theater Center – José Luis Valenzuela.
“He makes the words his own, not by applying his own signature and outstaging Ibsen’s, but by letting them live through an actor’s body and mind. He engages in the text both naturally and lyrically with a sensitive understanding for Peer and his fate; he identifies with the life-struggle and the characters, and doesn’t use his own humour and irony other than to spice up the short summaries when connecting directly with the audience. In other words, he doesn’t use Ibsen to expose his talent, but his talent to expose Ibsen.
The young actor, who has undertaken several supporting roles at the National Theatre in the past year, has created and performed his solo show for school children. He should keep doing this. The teaching profession would have to look long and hard to find a more inspiring Norwegian lesson than the one he recently held at Torshovteatret. He must be given larger tasks within the theatre. His radiance and handling of words is such a natural talent that you only see examples of on rare occasions.”
Jan E. Hansen, Aftenposten, on Corey Conradi’s one-man-show Peer Gynt
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“You switch from being the narrator to the character very easily, and it made me think of Eddie Izzard.” Bob Doherty, The Edinburgh Reporter
“Corey Conradi is an excellent actor and story teller. In English as well. (…) The show demonstrates that Conradi is an outstanding actor – there are abrupt turns in a wide field of expression, narrative theatre without being hollow or inflated theatrical. This is a showcase where Conradi gets to show his versatility, while we get served the story of Peer Gynt. Everything within an unpretentious hour, executed in very high quality.”
Andreas Wiese, Dagbladet, on About Peer
The Directorate for cultural heritage signals protection of Ibsen’s apartment.
In August it was announced that the apartment building that houses, amongst other things, the Ibsen Museum and Henrik Ibsen’s apartment has been put up for sale. Because the building is not listed, it is theoretically at risk of being transformed into something else entirely.
Actor Kåre Conradi (40) is asking the Directorate for cultural heritage to consider protecting the apartment building. Now his prayers have been heard. The Directorate wishes to protect artistic homes to a greater extent. This could mean that the Ibsen Museum will become a listed building.
Kåre Conradi has acted in a number of Ibsen productions throughout his career. He’s started the Norwegian Ibsen Company and this fall he’ll do his one-man-show About Peer at the National Theatre.
To Dagbladet he expresses a wish that the Agency executive of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Jørn Holme, and Head of The Cultural Heritage Management Office for Oslo, Janne Wilberg, take time out and think about it.
The exterior is protected
Arbins gate 1 by the Royal Palace in Oslo contains the Ibsen Museum – where Henrik Ibsen lived for eleven years until his death in 1906. It’s the Norwegian Union of Marine Engineers that owns the apartment building, and it’s the union that now wants to sell.
There are indications that the risk of Ibsen’s apartment ending up as a construction site, or that the museum vanishes, is over.
“The exterior of the apartment building is already listed. We will now consider whether all or part of the interior will be protected” says Janne Wilberg to Dagbladet.
A rapid decision
The Cultural Heritage Management Office will in the near future make a safety assessment of the entire apartment building. The warning lights started flashing at Wilberg yesterday when the media and The Directorate for cultural heritage made her aware that the apartment building is up for sale.
“We have the ability to preserve all or part of the building. We will soon decide” says Wilberg.
She has already been in contact with the owners’ attorney. Before any sale takes place, it is important for all parties to be aware of any restrictions and regulations. The owners have received an offer of 70 million NOK, but have rejected it because they think it is too low.
Protection of artistic homes
The Agency executive of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Jørn Holme, has delegated his superior authority to Oslo in this matter, but signalled yesterday to Wilberg that artistic homes is on his list of priorities.
“I have urged a stronger protection of our artistic homes” says Holme.
He adds that he will not intervene in the regional administrative processes but makes it clear to Dagbladet that it is he who has the last word – in this case too.
An Ibsen powerhouse
“It seems poorly conceived, as if things have been a bit hasty. Knut Wigert had a vision and fought for it. It was he who had the basic idea for the museum, and what it represents. He’s no longer with us, but many idealists after him have kept his legacy alive” Conradi says to Dagbladet.
Conradi wants to create a greater awareness – an Ibsen-powerhouse – in Arbins gate 1. Not just for the apartment, but the museum also.
“What scares me the most is not knowing what’s going on. It feels a bit retro to go back to just having the apartment, not the museum. It should have been the opposite: the task must be to create something bigger” Conradi said.
Look to Dublin
The actor praises Dublin for what they have got at the James Joyce Centre.
“Unlike the Joyce Centre, Ibsen has actually lived in this apartment building. There is a lot of history attached to the place. Sometimes it’s difficult for Norwegians to know what Ibsen actually means. He has a tremendous political force in many countries, and is perhaps the most famous Norwegian there is.”
” I am never more proud of Norway than when I travel abroad and notice the enormous Ibsen investments out there. The legacy of Ibsen is a legacy that is important to take care of” Conradi says.
Nancy Napper-Canter, writer for Broadway Baby:
“His obvious enthusiasm for this Norwegian classic makes him the perfect person to relay it; he’s a story-mediator as well as teller. (…) He reminded me of a lecturer – a talented, devoted lecturer, whose passion for his subject is palpable. Conradi’s research is obvious; he’s even been to several of the places where the play is set. It’s not difficult for Conradi to bring this material to life. Much of it, it seems, is his life.
With his warm voice and friendly demeanour, Conradi creates a nicely intimate atmosphere. (…) Despite his manifest expertise, Conradi’s not pompous with his interpretations. What’s more, Conradi doesn’t claim to have all the answers. It’s endearingly low-key, but there are also moments of drama. Frequently running around the stage, Conradi even climbs the lighting rig to emphasize Peer’s heightened emotion as he falls in lust. Energetic and compelling, Conradi’s a natural storyteller.”