Norway’s best-known playwright is Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). Often called the father of the modern drama, Ibsen ’s works are said to have revolutionized the development of dramatic technique in Europe and the USA. His plays remain popular today, and are regularly performed throughout the world.

Born and raised in Norway, Ibsen chose to live abroad for long periods of time. Altogether, he spent a total of 27 years in Italy and Germany. He never strayed far from his background, however, employing Norway as the setting for his plays. Ibsen’s dramas analyze and criticize society, and he masterfully portrays existential and psychological conflict. His works continue to form the basis for extensive research in Norway and abroad.

Since Ibsen, a new generation of Norwegian playwrights has emerged. Today, there are more than 230 dramatists providing material for theatres, films, radio and television. Several of these have received international recognition, including Cecilie Løveid (1951-) and Jon Fosse (1959-). The works of Cecilie Løveid can be characterized as social modernist. Løveid experiments with narrative style as her stories of women unfold. She employs lyricism as a clear experimental tool, and her treatment of women can be viewed as a branch of modernist feminism. Løveid has also written poetry, plays for radio and children’s books.

Jon Fosse (1959-) is currently Norway’s most popular contemporary dramatist both nationally and internationally. His plays are minimalist and tightly structured, with a repetitive style somewhere between realism and the absurd. His language is poetic and clearly influenced by rock music. His plays tend to explore the relations – or the absence of such – between people. Fosse also writes novels, poetry, essays and children’s books. His works have been translated into more than 20 languages.

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Henrik IbsenPhoto: Gyldendal

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