Film and Video Project – The Norwegian Opera
Bodil Furu, OPERA, 2008
The film captures the atmosphere of the working life of the Opera in Folketeatret (The People’s Theatre) – the architecture of the building itself and those who work backstage.We are given the opportunity of seeing the work that is never seen by the theatre audience: the work carried out backstage, or in the wings. This is described in intimate, clearly committed terms by the filmmaker. The film overturns the normal production hierarchy – the stage crew (the foundation stones of the pyramid) – are placed in front of the camera, whilst the producer and the singers take a back seat for once.
This emphasis on social hierarchy has a clear reference to the history of the building itself, which is closely connected to the very beginnings of Norwegian social democracy. The theatre was built in 1935, and was conceived of as a building for ordinary working class citizens – inspired by the German workers theatre, Volksbühne. The idea was to use the People’s Theatres as instruments for “educating” the working class. The building of the theatre was one of the employment initiatives set up by the government – it offered work for unemployed seamen and other casual labourers during the period between the wars in Oslo.
The film creates an angle of refraction between the pathos and the social realism of the Opera – the efforts of the backstage crew are brought into focus and raised to a higher aesthetic level, creating a contrast to the upper and middle-class, elitist tradition of the Opera.
Format: 35mm film
Film length: 12 minutes.
Trine Lise Nedreaas, SWELL, 2008
The film follows in the footsteps of a ballerina as she playfully guides us through the backstage areas, the wings, the corridors and the practice rooms of the Opera. Her wanderings are interspersed with archival film material: performances that once took place here.
The film is a journey within the labyrinth of the Opera, focusing upon memory and the unconscious. It portrays the institute as an independent, living organism.
Trine Lise Nedreaas
Format: HDV and various other video formats.
Film length: approx. 10 minutes.