: Chandigarh, Tue Dec 07 2010, 05:34 hrs
The stage is set for the old to meet the new. As Lars Oyno attempts to give his modern theatre group a new direction, he chooses to do it with The Mountain Bird, a world premiere of Henrik Ibsen's unfinished opera libretto from 1859 and the opening play of the Chandigarh Ibsen Theatre Festival. The production is a world premiere, opening for the first time in Asia, having been staged at the Delhi Ibsen Festival. The Mountain Bird unfolds the mystery of Ibsen's own folkloristic impulse, resembling a grand ritual. "We have old Norwegian folk instruments, national costumes, folk dances on stage and it's a strange coincidence that this play comes soon after the conclusion of the SAARC Folklore Festival, which I witnessed here, with the performances having a huge impact on me," smiles Lars, who is trained as a classical actor and began directing in '92, inspired by the French poet Antonin Artaud's theories and formed The Theatre of Cruelty. The libretto is based on a legend about a young girl who lived at the farm 'Birkehaug' in Justedalen, the only survivor of the plague that swiped this valley. When people from the next Parish found her after several years, she was acting "shy and wild as the bird" due to the loneliness she had suffered. She was nicknamed "the Grouse in Justedalen". While Lar's productions are physical, in the Mountain Bird, the physical is beneath the ground, with the actors not acting realistic and not using traditional dialogue or action. "I have not taken away Ibsen's words, all is intact. I got a Norwegian modern composer Filip Sande to make the music and as the unfinished opera has never been staged before I used entirely my view to do it," Lars worked closely together with the musician, with the actors singing the complicated songs. In fact, Lars has a Jazz and Folk singer and not opera singers to sing. "It's this 60-year-old folk singer who plays the role of the 17 year-old girl. We don't know why Ibsen stopped writing this, but I stopped where Ibsen stopped. The second part of the play has just eight lines from Ibsen and we extended it to more than half an hour," he says.
As for the Theatre of Cruelty, the director explains that the concept is to work in a more dark field, which is not about entertainment. The dark themes are not to describe darkness, "but to understand that we have to be aware of the dark sides and suffering of life to go towards the light and know joy," Lars explains that for Ibsen cruelty meant to accept all aspects of life and even the brutality to bring life into humans...