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Feature of the Week: A Different Kind of Theater

Magazine

Feature of the Week: A Different Kind of Theater

Vesturport is a most original theater company.

Published in the 2007 winter issue of Issues and Images. By Benedikt Jóhannesson, photo courtesy of Vesturport.

Vesturport is an innovative company of Icelandic theater and film artists. It was established in 2001 and has from the start received excellent audience appreciation, undisputed critical acclaim and several awards, amongst them the Icelandic Gríman theater awards, the Icelandic Edda film awards (see p. 4), and an award for best foreign production at the International Golden Mask theater festival in Moscow.

From its inception, Vesturport has approached its projects with heuristic working methods resulting in various styles and forms of theater. The aim is to find every project’s own voice, style, time and space without forcing it into a space where its story and characters will not be fully understood. In this way the ensemble is always looking for different and provocative ways to present a story through dialogue and visuals with the raw and sincere force that drives the artists in the company.

All of Vesturport’s stage productions have been highly original, sometimes even revolutionary. Woyzeck is Georg Büchner’s tragic and fragmented play about a young man struggling to make the best from what life has dealt him. The play was set up by Vesturport and performed partly underwater, with the actors having to swim from one point to another.

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis tells of a young man who one morning wakes up to find he has turned into an insect. How should such a transformation be displayed on stage? Actor Gísli Örn Gardarsson solves this brilliantly by climbing on walls and ceilings and never putting on any kind of costume or make-up.

The company has taken many of its productions on the road. With Romeo and Juliet they toured to England, Finland, Norway, Poland and Germany. Woyzeck was performed in England, Spain, Holland and Germany, and Metamorphosis in England.

On the horizon for the company are the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, staring Icelandic stars Krummi (of rock band Mínus) and Jenni (of Brainpolice), and the play Together, staring internationally renowned stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Elena Anya and Joana Preiss. The play opens at the Reykjavík Municipal Theatre in mid-February 2008. Also due for release is a film production of one of their formerly-performed plays, Surf, premiering in mid-March 2008. The play is set aboard a small fishing vessel just off the coast of Iceland and focuses on the conflict in the five-person community that the crewmembers share. Thoughts and dreams roll around in the minds of the men aboard as the ship plods through a restless dark sea. The award-winning play is a bittersweet and comical study of the human condition and it is a good bet that the film will be just as highly acclaimed.