Nordophile has been keeping in touch with our friends at the Scandinavian American Theater Company based in New York and wanted to share with you some very important upcoming events which are very much keeping Nordic theatre alive!
Kwasi Osei and Zenzele Cooper from SATC’s Off-Broadway production “Bastards of Strindberg”, photographer Kait Ebinger
Firstly, we spoke with one of the actors, Christiane Seidel (from Boardwalk Empire) and found out from her what it is like to be part of not only SATC in New York but the Nordic community as well.
Photo credit Christopher St. George.
How did you first become involved with SATC?
As a half-Dane, I had excitedly been following SATC for a while and was quite impressed with their consistent body of work, especially since the company had only been around for a couple of years. While I was shooting Boardwalk Empire, our casting director Meredith Tucker had asked me if I could recommend any Norwegian men for a role she was casting. I reached out to Albert Bendix, SATC’s Co-Artistic Director and a fellow Dane, to see if he had any suggestions and we ended up meeting for coffee. We hit it off, kept in touch and this spring SATC reached out to me if I was interested in possibly becoming a member. Because this company doesn’t mess around, I even had to come in for an interview (a very nice one with coffee and Scandinavian cookies) with the entire company. Albert even skyped in from Denmark as he was on tour. Somehow I was able to prove myself worthy and now I’m responsible for Audience and Press Coordination.
Have you seen an equal interest by both the Nordic and New York audience?
Absolutely. SATC has a large audience following our productions, our SATContemporary Reading Series, and on our social media. For example, we have approximately 80-100 audience members per reading and that includes all ages of Scandinavians, Americans with Scandinavian roots, and Americans with an interest in new Nordic theater and contemporary culture.
Nordic eateries are popping up all over New York and the attendance to exhibitions by Nordic artists is high. Do you feel Nordic drama productions is on the same level of acceptance?
There is definitely a surge in interest in all things Nordic. Especially, since Scandinavian tv shows like The Killing, The Bridge, or Borgen as well as Scandinavian literature have become widely popular (in their original or their US remakes) and Scandinavian actors like Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Kinnaman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau or Birgitte Hjort Sørensen are being cast on American tv shows and films. We can feel that this definitely has an effect on the interest in what Scandinavian storytelling looks like on stage. Especially, when we’re inviting some of these actors to join us for readings. However, contemporary Scandinavian plays and playwrights are still relatively unknown stateside. So with SATC we’re in an exciting position to be able to bring these plays to New York for the first time. In a sense we’re educating the New York audiences about their existence while filling that increasing interest in Scandinavian culture. There are so many edgy, interesting, and widely different plays that are a cultural representation of what Scandinavia is today. I might be biased, but I definitely feel that we’re approaching the same level of acceptance very fast.
Finally, you are performing a couple of readings for SATC, can you tell us a bit about what we can expect.
Our audience is definitely in for a fun (and free!) evening. We’ll have wine, guest actors and we’ll have up-and-coming playwright Marius Leknes Snekkevåg flying in from Norway. Our readings always take place at the beautiful Scandinavia House on Park Avenue. We’ll be presenting two short plays from Marius – one dramatic and one comedic. There’ll be a short Q&A with everyone and usually, we go out for drinks at a nearby bar, which is fun as we get a chance to chat with our audience. Personally, I’m extra excited as this will be my first time performing for SATC.
Marius Leknes Snekkevåg (playwright, reading #1 on Oct 5, Norwegian plays)
Courtesy of SATC
Christiane Seidel (actress, reading #1 on Oct 5, Norwegian plays). www.christianeseidel.com
Tomas Lagermand Lundme (playwright, reading #2 on Nov 9, Danish play “The Sauna”).
Courtesy of SATC
We’ll be kicking off our upcoming season with a new concept called “Shows in Development”. Here we invite audiences to follow and experience our process of creating an off-Broadway production at an early stage to give our audience the opportunity to ask questions and bring their thoughts to the table. The first show in development is titled “The Remember Me Project” and our first audience interaction will be on Sept 21, 2015 at 7:30pm with a pre-reception at 7:00pm. The play we’re working on is titled “Remember Me” (original title “Muista minut”) by Finnish writer Minna Nurmelin.
We’re also continuing with our popular SATContemporary Reading Series. This is the sixth season of the series where we present five staged readings – one from each of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The readings are one-night-only events, free to the public.
The first reading will be on Oct 5, 2015 presenting two plays by the Norwegian playwright Marius Leknes Snekkevåg: “I Love You, Let Me Go” and “We Are The Voice of Our People”.
The second reading will be on Nov 9, 2015 introducing Danish playwright Tomas Lagermand Lundme and his play “The Sauna”. For this reading, we’ll also have a guest star (TBA) joining us.
The dates for the remaining readings are Jan 25, 2016, Feb 29, 2016, and May 2, 2016. We’re currently in the process of deciding on the individual plays.
All our readings and “Show in Development” projects take place at Scandinavia House (http://www.scandinaviahouse.org/ at 58 Park Avenue, 10016 NYC) at 7:30pm with a 7:00pm pre-reception.
In 2016, we’ll present the US-premiere of Norwegian playwright Arne Lygre’s play “Then Silence” as an Off-Broadway production.