Oslo’s National Theatre holds Knausgård play

Norway's National Theatre has postponed its production of Karl Ove Knausgård's novel My Struggle until next year, after the theatre's director, Hanne Tømta, decided it needed more time.

Oslo's National Theatre holds Knausgård play
Karl Ove Knausgård at Oslo book festival in 2010 Photo: Kjetil Ree
Tømta has also stepped down as a director of the play, after deciding that the plays she is directing this spring and autumn, would leave her with insufficient time to do justice to Knausgård's work. 
She has hired veteran director Kjetil Bang-Hansen to take her place. 
"Dramatizing as extensive and complex work as Mr Struggle is a demanding exercise," Tømta said in a press release. "To make the performance as good as we want it to be, we need to put more time and more resources into the project. Therefore, we are postponing the premiere." 

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Berlin set for Breivik murder monologue

The words of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik explaining the thinking behind his killing spree will be read in Berlin theatres next month. The aim: to shock the audience with the familiarity of his arguments.

Berlin set for Breivik murder monologue
Photo: Heiko Junge/Scanpix

A Turkish-German woman will be reading the script, edited from Breivik’s 17-page, hour-long speech he made in an Oslo court in April before being jailed for 21 years for the 77 murders he carried out last July.

The transcript was never published in full, the judge deeming it unhelpful to give Breivik a public platform and the media shying away from giving his xenophobic, nationalist beliefs too much attention.

Now a German-Swiss political theatre group will stage Breivik's Erklärung – Breivik's Explanation – to give the audience a nasty shock, as director Milo Rau said he feels the speech contains arguments which would find acceptance in much of Europe.

The choice of Sascha Soydan to perform the piece was to detach the Breivik “character” from his arguments, Rau told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

“I am not going for similarity here, but trying to produce an intellectual event,” he told the paper. There will be no courtroom set and the piece will not be dramatised.

“The first thing Sascha Soydan said after reading the script was that the scandal of the text was that it isn't really scandalous,” said Rau.

“It is a relatively rational, self-contained and, I think, widely spread view in Europe.” The major difference being that most people would not go on a killing spree, like Breivik did when he murdered 77 people, mostly teenagers, in Utøya and Oslo last summer.

The 35-year-old director from Bern, Switzerland, suggested that 80 percent of the arguments Breivik put forward in his speech would not be out of place in the conservative Die Weltwoche Swiss newspaper. Around 20 percent could be aligned with views held by the staunchly left-wing German paper the taz, he said.

“There is not a causal, basic relationship between thinking and acting. One cannot say that because a person is a right-wing nationalist, they are a murderer.

“Clearly, he is an unhinged, radical right-wing extremist” but, Rau added, it was Breivik's ability to exercise perspective during his explanation in court that “makes him a rational, complex, but also mundane speaker.”

The performances are part of Rau’s International Institute for Political Murder (IIPM) group’s “Power and Dissent” project, and will be staged along with discussions afterwards, at the Weimar National Theatre on October 19th and in Berlin's Theatrediscounter on October 27th.