Little Eyolf review – exhilarating Ibsen from Norway’s National Theatre

“It is the fashion these days to strip Ibsen to the bone. This exhilarating production from Norway’s National Theatre – played in Norwegian with surtitles – is very much in the modern mode. It runs, like Richard Eyre’s 2015 Almeida version, for a brisk 85 minutes, and is played in modern dress with mostly bare feet and minimal furniture. It leaves you, as all good Ibsen should, quietly shattered.

Guilt is the prevailing theme as Rita and Alfred Allmers try to repair a marriage already haunted by the accident that happened to their boy, Eyolf, when they were preoccupied in making love. What is especially striking about Sofia Jupither’s production is its realisation of Ibsen’s sexual candour. Pia Tjelta’s Rita can hardly keep her hands off Kåre Conradi’s withdrawn Alfred as he returns from a six-week walking tour in the mountains and unbuttons his shirt with frenzy. Alfred’s passion for his half-sister, Asta, is more decorously expressed but no less intense. The most shocking revelation comes when we learn that Alfred, who used to call Asta “Little Eyolf”, cried out that name at a moment of orgasm with his wife. Written in 1894, the play emerges as both breathtakingly honest and the ancestor of soul-baring modern dramas by Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee.

Jupither’s production also brings out Ibsen’s grim humour. When Tjelta’s superb Rita, a Lady Macbeth of the fjords, announces that she intends to devote herself to looking after neglected children, one’s initial response is that the police should be alerted. Conradi captures perfectly Alfred’s self-regarding intellectualism, and there is fine support from Ine Jansen as an anguished Asta and from Andrine Sæther, who turns the symbolic figure of the Rat-Wife, sensing something troublesome gnawing away in the house, into a hippy Pied Piper. This is Ibsen with the gloves off, and the only sadness is that the production was given a bare three-night run. Someone should invite this company back to give us an extended Ibsen season.”

**** Michael Billington, The Guardian (20 April 2018)

The Norwegian Ibsen Company has started a co-operation with The Print Room theatre Coronet in Notting Hill, London. The first production will be a visit from The National Theatre of Norway. This guest performance is funded by the InterNational Foundation.

This production of Little Eyolf has been on the repertoire of The National Theatre of Norway for three years to amazing reviews. The Norwegian Ibsen Company’s artistic director Kåre Conradi is a lifetime employee at The National Theatre of Norway and plays Alfred Almers opposite Pia Tjelta as Rita Almers. Tjelta is these days shooting the series BECK in Sweden where she stars opposite Kristoffer Hivju (Game of Thrones).

The visit of this powerful production to The Print Room also marks the beginning of a working relationship between The Print Room Coronet and The Norwegian Ibsen Company. Artistic Director Kåre Conradi has said at several occasions that The Coronet has many similarities to The National Theatre of Norway. The much needed yet very cool choice of bringing the Coronet stage up to the level of first balcony is something he would have loved to experience at The National Theatre of Norway if an opportunity was given. It brings an incredible intimacy into the grand atmosphere of a big classic theatre house.

The co-production from Norway also stars Andrine SætherJohn Emil Jørgensrud and Ine Jansen. Directed by the award winning director Sofia Jupither.

Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 April 2018. BOOK NOW! The Thursday performance is already SOLD OUT.

Print Room at the Coronet, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LB.

Three Peer Gynt’s come together in a rare performance at Gålå, the home of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in Gudbrandsdalen.

This is a co-production between Peer Gynt – Gålå and The Norwegian Ibsen Company.

This famous outdoor arena visited by 3,000 audience members a day welcomes three of Norway’s most celebrated actors. Dennis Storhøi, Kåre Conradi and Norway’s grand old man, Toralv Maurstad have all played Peer Gynt for many years and in different ways have Peer shaped their lives.

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Pia Tjelta and Kåre Conradi are returning to The National Theatre of Norway in Little Eyolf.

The play opens on the 29th August 2017.

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Artistic Director Kåre Conradi just won The Hedda Award 2016 (Norway’s equivalent to Olivier Award) for best actor in the part of Richard III at The National Theatre of Norway.

Artistic Director Kåre Conradi is to star as Edward IV in Trevor Nunn’s production of The Wars of the Roses at the Rose Theatre Kingston.

Epic, enthralling, extraordinary. The Rose stage will be transformed into a battleground for The Wars of the Roses, a gripping distillation of four of Shakespeare’s history plays, directed by Trevor Nunn, one of the world’s leading Shakespearean directors. Kåre will be joined on stage by Joely Richardson, Rufus Hound, Robert Sheehan, Oliver Cotton, Laurence Spellman and Susan Tracy.

A spectacular theatrical event not seen since it was first produced at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1963 by Peter Hall & John Barton, The Wars of the Roses is a trilogy of plays about one of the most tumultuous and intriguing periods of British history – the 15th century conflict between the House of York and the House of Lancaster for the throne of England.

Through these plays Shakespeare examines the very essence of human conflict. A tale of feuding families, murderous kings and adulterous queens, scheming and betrayal, revolts and battles, The Wars of the Roses chronicles the final struggle for power in medieval England.

Kåre as Peer Gynt in India

Kåre has just returned from the highly successful first Ibsen Theatre Festival in Mumbai, India.


Photos: Helge Lien

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.

Peer Gynt at Karljohansvern

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.

photo credit: Jesper Nordahl Finsveen

Artistic Director of the Theatre IbsenAnders 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.”