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Susanne Kennedy

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Susanne Kennedy (1977) has received attention for a number of productions on which she had unleashed an innovative approach. She completed the director’s course in Amsterdam with a personal version of Maria Stuart (Top Naeff Award). In the Nationale Toneel, she mainly aimed to cover post modern authors such as Sarah Kane and Elfride Jelinek, and she brought forth a version of Kleine Eyolf by Ibsen, which received much attention. Johan Simons invited her as guest director with the Kammerspiele in München, where she recently directed the much discussed Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt.

In March 2014, Kennedy’s first performance with TA premiers: The Pelican, by August Strindberg. Kennedy on The Pelican: ‘Strindberg doesn’t give us a mother Pelican that sacrifices her own life to save her offspring, but a vampiric mother who keeps fod from her children and stifles their growth. Neither the daughter nor the son seem capable of maturing to adulthood: the daughter is infertile, and the son is sick and destructive. The mother, who feeds on her offspring, who purposefully keeps food from her children, who refuses to take on the natural mother’s role, the mother as a monster and a culprit is an unexplored taboo in Strindberg’s text. Another of those taboos is hunger. We can hardly imagine what real hunger is, anymore. Or of what it means to hunger when there is food around you? The children in the play have food, yet they are always starving. Dinner tastes of nothing – soup like water and baked chicken like dust. Now that they’re adults, they still cannot feed themselves. They are stuck in a reality where they cannot satiate themselves, a world of permanent wanting. Why? The children are like sleepwalkers, trapped in their own reality from which they seem unable to break free.’

On Susanne Kennedy’s stage, the emphasis is not so much on story – and character development in the traditional sense. She creates a theatrical and strongly sensitive world in which the characters are often more like puppets than ‘real’ people. Emotions and character traits are expanded, in makeup and costume too, and the acting could be dubbed ‘unnatural’. Thus, emotions and actions that one deems normal are presented in an estranging and surprising manner.  In her adaptations, Kennedy often selects a limited number of dialogues from the original text, which she deems to expose the core of the matter. She strives to achieve a style of theatre in which music, sound, makeup, costumes and movement bring forth the naked essence of a play.

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