ad News for Nordic Black
The Nordic Black Theater opened in 1991. They call themselves the only “cosmopolitan” theater in Scandinavia. Norwegian theater is dominated by institutional theaters with permanent staff, nearly all of whom are trained at the state theater school. Nordic Black Theater was established to bring new life to the Norwegian stage. It is a “free” theater and has aimed to provide a space for non-traditional Norwegian, and multicultural work—to add a bit of color to the stage, if you will.
In 1993, the theater opened the Nordic Black School. This is a grant-funded, full-day vocational school for actors and theater technicians. The school can boast qualified instructors from South America, Africa and Norway, as well as visiting instructors from India, Mali, France, etc. They have a solid reputation, and two-thirds of their graduating students go on to work or continue studies in film and/or theater. Their most recent production was Per Gynt by Ibsen, and past productions include “Blues for Mr. Charlie” by James Baldwin, “Yerma” by Garcia Lorca, and “Tuhlag” by Girish Karnad.
One of the older institutional theaters in Oslo recently produced “Romeo and Juliet”. The director gave the play a cultural twist—Juliet was from Pakistan. The director said one reason for the choice was to take into consideration the multicultural population of Oslo. However, there were no open auditions, and since there were no actresses of color employed at this institutional theater, the actress dyed her blond hair and wore brown contact lenses. The theater came under fire from angry minority groups.
In defense of the theater, they say the concept wasn’t decided upon until after the casting decisions (often in the hands of the theater, not the director) had already been made.
To make matters worse: this year the Cultural Department has decided to fund an institutional theater’s multicultural project for 7 million NOK (over 600,000 US dollars), and they have denied funds to Nordic Black. There is a hot and colorful debate in the city of Oslo…
© 2001 Ren Powell ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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