'Jo Strømgren Kompani' received great reviews last year when they performed 'The Department' and 'The Hospital' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This year, they have been invited back to perform their new show 'The Convent', which has already been very well received by the Norwegian audience.
Jo Strømgren made his debut as a choreographer in 1994 with "Rechts-Links" after finishing his studies at the Norwegian National College of Ballet. Carte Blanche Dance Company in Bergen immediately engaged him for 3 years as a choreographer and dancer until he went freelance and started to create pieces for a large number of international companies (The Norwegian National Ballet, Ballet de l’Opera National du Rhin, Ballett Nürnberg, Bern Ballett, Wiener Statsopernballett, ABCDancecompany, Junior Ballet de Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris, IT Dansa Barcelona, Cloud Gate Ensemble, Helsinki Dance Company, Iceland Dance Company, Nyt Dansk Danseteater, Älvsborgsteaterns Dansekompani, Skånes Danseteater, Oslo Danse Ensemble, Repertory Dance Theatre Utah). Engagements as a theatre director has increased the last years and pure text theatre now occupies half of his time at different state theatres in Norway. Apart from concentrating on Ibsen pieces he has also been active as a scriptwriter.
Jo Strømgren’s freelance activity in 2006 involves “Little Eyolf” for The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, “Around the World in 80 minutes” for Riksteatret, “A Doll’s House” for Haugesund Theatre, “A Remixed Tribute to the Art of Football” for Bielefeld Theatre in co-operation with Jo Strømgren Kompani, and ”Polaroid” for NAPA in Greenland in co-production with Jo Strømgren Kompani.
JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI
Jo Strømgren Kompani was founded 1998 in Bergen, Norway. A repertory of 11 productions has been touring more than 40 countries, and about 80 performances are presented annually in collaboration with both steady and temporary co-producers. Acclaimed by audiences and critics and credited as innovative yet accessible, it has grown to become one of the most stable independent companies in Scandinavia. Artistic profile is described by extensive blend of genres, research on absurd humour, exploration of gibberish language techniques, the use of actors as dance performers, and a somewhat strange choice of themes. With layers of dark psychology underneath ambivalent wit, the audiences are invited to associate freely upon storylines and symbolism. In 2002 JSK also collaborated with Nordisk Film on the feature film “Destination Moscow”.
JSK’s activity in 2006 involves touring “THE CONVENT,” “THE HOSPITAL” and “THE DEPARTMENT” to Sydney, Montemor-o-novo, Evora, Prague, Potsdam, Bergen, Stamsund, Ålesund, Molde, Kristiansund, Porsgrunn, Drammen, Bærum, Spoleto, Pyhäjärvi, Edinburgh, Groningen, Philadelphia, Göteborg, Bristol, Brighton, Coventry, Winchester, Sydney, Moscow and Trondheim. ”POLAROID” is presented in Greenland, Åland, Denmark and Faroe Islands.
2005 Rewarded the prize of “Sexiest Production” by the Dublin Fringe Festival for “The Hospital”.
2005 Bergensprisen for Best Theatre Performance for “The Hospital”, by Natt & Dag.
2002 Awarded the The Association of Norwegian Theatres and Oschestras’ Hedda award, best production 2002, for “There”
2001 Nominated to The Association of Norwegian Theatres and Orchestras’ Hedda award for “Gorri-Gorri”
2000 The Bayern Critics award for the collaborative choreography in the Nürnberg Ballet’s staging of “Die Winterreise”
2000 Awarded Bergen City’s annual Artist prize for outstanding contribution to the city’s cultural life
2000 Awarded Oslo City’s annual Artist prize for outstanding contribution to the city’s cultural life
2000 Prize of Honour for best international performance in the 18th International Fajr Festival, Iran, for “Masculine Mysteries”
1999 The Association of Norwegian Theatres and Orchestras’ Hedda award for “Bindingsverk” and “Ten Years Later”
1998 Norwegian Critics Award for “A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football”
1997 1. Prize at the Scandinavian Bagnolet Platform with “A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football”
1996 Norwegian Theatre Directors Award
1995 Voted “Cultural Name of the Year” by newspaper Bergens Tidende
In a remote valley far away from urban society, three nuns are serving time in a small convent. The divine harmony is long gone and the friendly atmosphere is about to reach rock bottom. A complete lack of signs from above is not making it any easier either. Nor is the lack of bread and water. As religious ceremonies and rituals are known to be confusing even to professional believers, their doubts and fears blend with misinterpretations and reach diabolic dimensions within the thick walls of stone. Keeping track of the holy truth is always a hard assignment - and even harder when you are hungry.
The language in this performance is nonsensical. Jo Strømgren Kompani has for many years been developing the technique of communicating with verbal abstraction and creating its own international niche. Each production involves a completely new dialect, inspired by a specific language or region. This time the pseudo-language is Swiss German – or even more specifically the Bern dialect. The company philosophy is to present potentially controversial themes with deliberate abstraction in order to maintain the associative point of view and under no circumstance force any specific opinion upon the audience. Worldwide success in more than 40 countries has proven this hardcore nonsense manifest to be a valuable contribution to general theatre, reminding that the text issue yet still has this somewhat forgotten direction to explore further. For all audiences – the performers do not even know themselves what is being said on stage so please do not panic. For any Swiss guests – JSK welcome your feedback, positive or negative.
Press quotes - 'The Convent':
'Scenography, lighting and three actresses that own and define the space in a precise manner, makes it an exceptionally beautiful performance…The effect is funny and scary, absurd and grotesque. Jo Strømgren and the company create here outstanding dramatic art, which is a pleasure to see'.
Dagbladet, Norway, Andreas Wiese, June 19.2006
' “God help us!” could have been a fitting expression in such moments, in a tiny convent in the alps where everything goes helter-skelter and heaven and earth are turned upside down because of a little seed..Jo Strømgren Kompani has conjured up a pearl of a performance'.
Romsdals Budstikke, Norway, dice 6, Ole Foss, June 10.2006
'Rhythm, timing and ensemble playing works like a charm – and their exaggerated expressiveness is lovely to attend..Strømgren’s distinct form is alive and kicking'.
Dagsavisen, Norway, Elisabeth Leinslie, June 10.2006
'This relatively unromantic presentation of life in the convent stands out as raw and tragic, well assisted by black humour and a well-functioning aesthetics of rupture'.
BA, Norway, Dice 5, Silje Birgitte Folkedal – June 06.2006.
WHERE AND WHEN
Date: 4. – 28. August (Tuesdays off)
Time: 1 pm
Venue: Aurora Nova, venue 8, St. Stephens Centre, St Stephens Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AL.
Booking & Information: Please see: http://www.jskompani.no/ or contact Tine Rude on: firstname.lastname@example.org / +47 55 36 55 11 / +47 95 90 53 76.
World premiere Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, 10.05.06 Norwegian premiere Bergen International Festival, 03.06.06 Direction, choreography, set design Jo Strømgren Performers Guri Glans, Gunhild Aubert Opdal, Ulla Marie Broch Music Mozart, Ruedi Krebs Sound design Lars Årdal, Ken Ruben Theodorsen Costume design Catrine Gudmestad Lighting design Stephen Rolfe Light engineer Lise Risom Olsen, Leila Berg Sound engineer Hans Skogen Photographer Knut Bry Assistant to director Ingri Enger Damon Project manager Tine Rude Producer Jo Strømgren Kompani Co-producers BIT Teatergarasjen, The Norwegian National Theatre, Bergen International Festival, Teatret Vårt i Molde, Riksteatret Support Arts Council Norway, Municipality of Bergen, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs