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Maren E Bjørseth

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Maren E. Bjørseth (1984, Norway) studied Directing at the Theaterschool Amsterdam and presented her own style with her thesis directing of A Doll’s House in 2012: a radical, playful and form-conscious reinterpretation of Ibsen’s classic. Immediately after, she directed the intriguing The Slope (Carl Frode Tiller), the rugged Ten Liefde (Ko van den Bosch), the cheerful yet macabre Faith Love Hope (Ödon von Horváth) and Ibsen’s The wild duck at Frascati Producties. She chooses plays about small people in an absurd and confusing world. She uses an absurd acting style and an abstract form that are just an inch away from realism. Bjørseth directs in her home country as well as in the Netherlands, because it provides her with the greatest possible freedom to ‘optimally explore the advantages of both theatrical cultures’.

In Norway, she directed e.g. La Ronde (Arthur Schnitzler), An enemy of the people (Henrik Ibsen) and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which earned her a nomination for the Heddaprisen for best director. In October 2016, there will be the premiere of Agota Kristof’s The Notebook in Trondheim. Her directing of Hugo Claus’s A bride in the morning at TA-2 – Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s platform for the development of young directorial talent – was selected for the National Dutch Theatre Festival in 2015. ‘She delivers a spotless, slightly absurdist performance, in which the actors manage to let each and every one of Claus’s characters shine in all their hope and despair,’ according to the Nederlandse Toneeljury.

For the next four years, Bjørseth will be one of the permanent directors at Toneelschuur Producties, creating four performances, two of which in collaboration with TA-2/Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The first in the series - Emilia Galotti – will premiere in January 2017. The second one - A delicate balance - will premiere in March 2019.

In collaboration with the Philip Loubser Foundation, Toneelgroep Amsterdam has founded the International Ibsen Fellowship. This three-year exclusive Fellowship supports and enables international young directing talent to develop to the highest level. Maren E. Bjørseth is the first Fellow.


Maren E. Bjørseth about Emilia Galotti

‘Emilia Galotti is set in a world driven by violence and corruption, reigned by self-interest. The prince is a lecher who admires and craves. He takes whatever he wants and now he wants Emilia Galotti, the most beautiful woman of the realm, a masterpiece of nature. But who is this Emilia? A woman of incomparable beauty? Or is she still a girl? I am very fascinated by the woman as a symbol, as a person of power and a powerless object. Strong women keep recurring in my performances, Emilia Galotti is a new step in this quest. In a colourful, slightly absurd, but harsh world, we search for the woman behind the pretty face. For the power and the stubbornness, the sexuality and the immense despair of a young woman who is put in an impossible situation. As the centre of a whirlwind of battles over power, control and pride. ‘A rose broken in the bud, before the storm scattered its petals.’ (Emilia about herself). The many sides of Emilia make her just as recognizable and complex today as she was back then. At the prince’s summer palace, Emilia is forced to make extreme decisions. In the end, the play can be reduced to the basic fight between two powers: lust and love.’


Maren E. Bjørseth about A bride in the morning

'Een bruid in de morgen is about a family in which everyone is simply trying to survive, through good times and bad, sometimes at each other’s expense. The cynicism of the parents is in stark contrast to the apparent innocence of the children, who retreat into their own fantasy world. It is marvellous how Claus, with his poetic language and sheer musicality, helps us to evoke the illusions and dreams which make their drab existence bearable. But even this fantasy world has an insuperable boundary, a simmering suspicion of incestuous lust. Claus constantly sets desires against inescapable reality, the children’s flights of fantasy against the grim reality of the adults. I am particularly drawn by the way in which he shows that imagination can provide an escape, but that it also has darker layers which create confusion and angst. This play is brimming with compassion and poetry, yet it is also deeply disturbing.'

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