Where does art end and politics start? And who draws this fine line? Nobel Prize winning writer Knut Hamsun sided with the Germans in World War II and is therefore largely forgotten nowadays. Even though among experts he is still considered one of the founding fathers of modern literature, and highly influential for his innovative style. Where did he slip? After 60 years of hatred, shame and distrust, there’s still no sign of reconciliation.
In The Writer a PhD-student is writing her thesis on Knut Hamsun. She asks him questions about the different phases of his life. In a subtle and seductive way she manages to get the profoundly human out of this contentious historical figure. During their contact, reality, desire, comprehension and incomprehension alternate almost unnoticed. Through magnificent puppetry, music and humor we are able to go beyond our first impressions and learn to know the man behind the books.
The Writer is a co-production of Ulrike Quade Company (Amsterdam), Jo Strømgren Kompani (Oslo) and The Nordland Visual Theatre (Stamsund). In 2009 the performance had its premiere on the Stamsund International Theatre Festival. This was 150 years after Knut Hamsun was born in Norway in 1859. The Writer toured in The Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Macedonia, France, Germany and England. It won several awards: The Audience Award at Belgrade International Theatre Festival, BITEF 2009 and The Best Show Award, The Little Prince, at the 2010 Lutke International Puppet Theatre Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Length: 65 minutes without interval
Script: Ulrike Quade, Jo Strømgren
Direction, set design: Jo Strømgren
Puppetdesign, performer: Ulrike Quade
Additional puppeteer: Vera Kaye
Music: Edvard Grieg, Bergmund Waal Skaslien, Murcof, a.o.
Assistant to Ulrike Quade: Maria Landgraf
Costume design: Atti Kingma
Lighting design: Stephen Rolfe
Sound design: Lars Årdal
Technicians: Niels Runderkamp & Floris Maathuis
Producers: Jo Strømgren Kompani, Ulrike Quade Productions, and Nordland Visual Theatre
In collaboration with: Riksteateret, Oslo Nye Teater
Supported by: Dutch Performing Art Fund, Municipality of Amsterdam, Art Council Norway, Bergen City Council, Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Oslo City Council.
VENUE (United Kingdom) *****
“A jaw-droppingly impressive production, an explosive performance, a heartrending story of love, misguided patriotism and betrayal: ‘The Writer’ is an excellent example of the immense possibilities of contemporary puppet-theatre.”
“Quade plays the role of the scientist who investigates the life of the writer. The moment she gets stuck with her investigation, she dives into the scenery to get a small puppet of the writer […]. There are happening more overwhelming visual elements that makes, together with the intriguing facts, The Writer a surprising and lovely performance.”
“It’s impressive how Ulrike Quade communicates with the dolls, she brings the dolls to life with absolute precision and control. Captivating theatre.”
“Captivating – from beginning to end.”
TOTAL THEATRE MAGAZINE (United Kingdom)
“By far one of the most inspiring pieces of theatre of the year.”