Q & A med Liv Heløe

Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC) satte nylig opp Liv Heløes Når du får tenkt deg om (Thinking Time). I den anledning har SATCs Vanessa Johansson en Q & A med Liv som er publisert på kompaniets nettside. Dramatikerforbundet har fått tillatelse til å gjengi den:

Liv Heløe. Foto: Kristin von Hirsch

«SATC literary director Vanessa Johansson conducted a short Q&A with Liv Heløe, the Norwegian playwright of Thinking Time. We love the insight she shares about her process and hope to hear from you about your impression on the blog.

What was your inspiration writing this play?

The play is written on commission for Theater Junge Generation (Germany) and Brageteatret (Norway). It felt natural to make the two countries common history a starting point. I started by reading about the war, with a special focus on Norwegian-German relationships; titles like: Convicted women (Sigurd Senje), Bombs over Dresden (a refuge), Love has no will (Astrid Daaland Leira). 

I also dug into my own family story; my aunt married a german soldier and moved to Germany during the war. Her story and the questions around her choices have always fascinated and made me curious. A consideration that became most important was that the play should be experienced as relevant for a young audience today. The text´s ”here and now” is therefore today – and the inspiration to this part I found in the streets of Oslo. Roma people traveling and living in European countries has at all times been a ”theme”,  both for original inhabitants and authorities. Since 2007, when Romania joined EU (many Roma people have traditionally lived in Romania), the policy and the rhetoric towards Roma people has become tougher. Thinking Time deals with the possible gap between the choice made impulsively – by heart – and the choice made after consideration – by head; concerning the relationship. I wanted to investigate whether it was possible to mirror the great-grandmother´s story (my aunt´s), 70 years back, into the main character´s choice and put her dilemma into a historical context.

What (or who) inspires your work in general?

When I write on commission, I focus a lot on the audience, the target group: are they children from 5 years old? Are they young people 12-15? Or an open adult audience? The audience always gives a lot to the writing process.

Writing for specific actors can also give a lot and inspire. Of course I am both inspired and influenced by contemporary art work; writing, theatre, film, painting, dance (while writing this, I am actually sitting in a foyer waiting for a dance performance to start.) If I should mention one writer and one play as an inexhaustible source, it has to be Henrik Ibsen and Peer Gynt. Peer Gynt has everything; you can find new aspects and new treasures over and over again.

Can you give us an anecdote about your writing process?

Two years ago, I was in the beginning of a process developing a text for a performance about photography. I had written some text and had a two day workshop together with the director, the scenographer and one actor. Since we only had one actor, I participated in both reading and acting. This brought me – not intended – on stage in my own writing ; not only during the workshop, but in the final production, which was done autumn 2016. It was both a great and a bit schizophrenic experience. I loved to work practically, with colleagues, meeting the audience again (I was an actress for 15 years, before I started writing) – but it was also a challenge to be part of the actual production – not to watch and make comments from the audience’s seat.

How do you like to work as a writer?

Practically: I need silence to work. I do not – as some colleagues – work in cafés or with music in my ears. In periods I have rented an office in a writer´s community, but for the last years I have worked at home. (My dog prefers this solution.) Some of my work requires research – often reading. In periods I spend time in libraries. But if the question is about whether I prefer commissions or my own work? – the answer is both. I very much like the frames given in a commission, but I also like and need the freedom in developing my own material, without thinking about the practical part – number of characters, target group or how to stage.

Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC) is a non-profit theater company founded to provide Scandinavian perspectives through the new generation of Scandinavian playwrights and theater artists. We present contemporary plays and inventive takes on the classics from the Nordic region, which includes Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. We are committed to strengthening the relationship between Scandinavia and the United States through collaborations and interdisciplinary artistic exchange that examine and challenge the cultural status quo.
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