Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sweden's acclaimed Gothenburg City Theatre to join with Moomstheatre, a theatre troupe professional actors with developmental disabilities, to produce a new play

From Kjell Stjernholm, artistic director of the Mooms Teatern in Malmö, Sweden:

Now it's finally official. Gothenburg City Theatre, one of Sweden's biggest and most acclaimed theatres, and the Moomstheatre, with professional actors with developmental disabilities, cooperate in the production of a play. This means that actors with intellectual disabilities are given space on one of Sweden's most prestigious stages. A milestone for us who worked on the issue of representation in the performing arts!

The initiative comes from the Gothenburg City Theatre, following a proposal by actress Åsa-Lena Hjelm. A "get to know" process and discussion between the theaters, their managements and employees have been running since two years back.

Both sides have since the idea was raised agreed on "equal terms" as an important keyword. Gothenburg City Theatre has a many times larger structure, finance, logistics and organization compared to Mooms. On the other hand, cooperation between actors with different functional capabilities is everyday business for Mooms, while the City Theatre make their first experience in the field. All the more important that we work in all areas with a constant awareness. We own, shape and carry out the production with shared power and responsibility.

There is also a common learning process. Gothenburg City Theatre has long been regarded as Swedish theater’s most successful in developing accessibility for people with disabilities as audience. Now they take their first step to full participation at the stage itself and the artistic productions. For Mooms there is a learning from a more experienced / established theater.

Also processes and procedures are different in the various theaters. And “equal terms” is valid here as well. We rehearse in both Malmö and Gothenburg. In Malmö Mooms it’s common to work weekdays during the daytime. In Gothenburg we work Tuesday to Saturday with evening shifts four days a week, and this will be new to the Malmo actors.

Also concerning the artistic responsibilities, we have tried to share them equally. There are equal numbers of actors from each theater. Malmo is submitting Pierre Björkman Gunilla Ericsson and Niclas Lendemar. City Theatre signed Gustav Mellbin Ekman, Åsa-Lena Hjelm and Bill Hugg. It’ll be a guaranteed great group to see together.

The same equality goes for the production team. Mooms helps with the director (Kjell Stjernholm), composer (Jan-Erik Sääf), Lighting Design (Hans C Roupe). City Theatre has proposed a playwright (Ann-Sofie Bárány) and stands for set design (Clive Leaver), costume / mask (Evalena Jonsson Lunde) and sound design (Jonas Redig).

The premiere will be April 20 2012 in Gothenburg, and the play comes to Malmö in October the same year

The play will be newly written.

- The meeting between the actors from Moomstheatre and Gothenburg City Theatre drama will be about the fragile thread that represents a person's normality and the primal force that is collected specifically at that border. Belonging or to be expelled, to make or break - that is the question, says the writer Ann-Sofie Báràny.