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INTERVIEW between the Institute for Unpredictable Processes and RADIOTEATERN (TRANSLATION)

"en ganska brokig samling människor"

Niklas Billström, Filippa Hanzon, Suzi Ersahin, Susanne Skog, Magnus Florin, Johan Petri, Sten Sandell & Helena Persson




 

INTERVIEW between the Institute for Unpredictable Processes and RADIOTEATERN (TRANSLATION)


IUP

Well, so now you are going to start a new theatre, online, digitally, just like everyone else. Is it an initiative that has emerged during corona, a kind of pandemic creation?


RT

Not really. I understand that you could think that given the timing, but we have been thinking about starting this theatre for quite some time. The interest in creating a space, or a platform, or whatever you want to say, for drama, radio plays and innovative sound art has been something that several of us have been thinking about for some time.


IUP

Yes, you are a group, I understand. Can you say something about yourselves and how you met?


RT

It’s a rather diverse collection of people with varying experience who work professionally in theatre, music, art and literature. We have the idea that we should have different backgrounds and input and that this creates something of value. At the same time, it can probably be said that we are all, in different ways, interested in the power of sound and listening. That it's just us doing it right now is very much a coincidence. Several of us know each other, and have worked together before, but the group will change, probably. We are in a kind of start-up process.



IUP

How will it change, what do you mean?


RT

I mean, RADIOTEATERN will probably grow. Musicians and actors, writers and others will get involved and contribute. I think we would like RADIOTEATERN to mean something to the development of theatre and sound art, perhaps to how new drama is written, and then there must be an openness to change, new people, new forces and new voices.

IUP

From what I have understood from what you have said, you want to present different genres. Your name is RADIOTEATERN and then you think of drama and text. The fact that you are talking about radio plays and sound art, is it a way to broaden the concept of theatre or?

RT

Expand the concept of theatre, it sounds a little too demanding. We use different genre concepts and concepts are by nature a limit and that’s probably why they work so poorly in this context.


IUP

I do not really think that’s an answer to the question.


RT

For us, it is not so important to think about different genres but instead to be sensitive to intensities that reach out. One could perhaps say that sound works, what we call hörspiele signal that text and sounds are woven together in a way where the narrative is broken apart, that audio art works to examine the nature of sounds and the soundscape, that drama uses language to describe humans and their relationships. Yes, different artists probably think and formulate themselves differently, but what Radioteatern wants to do, is present strong and distinctive audio works. What we call them is less significant. The fact that we still use these titles is perhaps a backwards looking way to reduce their importance.



IUP

I'm not entirely sure I understand but, in any case, I wonder… In recent years, the audiobook has become very popular and, in a way, you can say that the development has opened up for your project, right?


RT

It is interesting, and something strange I must say, that for some, reading and listening has become so synonymous. The audiobook is, at best, a good reading of a text, but what we will present is of course something completely different. We think beyond reading and into drama. Actors' deep interpretations, new and specially written music, elaborate soundscapes; to put it simply – interpretation!


IUP

And you think this will be interesting for today's listeners. Do you think in terms of what's current - contemporary themes? You have said that you want to present contemporary drama and what that's about, or is this the wrong question?


RT

That’s not the wrong question. Thinking about a relationship to the world and the audience is important, but it looks different on different levels. The individual artist may not be there at all, they have their focus on the work, on how the expression should be shaped, how the story should develop. In that process, thoughts of the audience are not always present. On the other hand, if we talk about what the RADIOTEATERN's repertoire offers as a whole, then some important questions might be; What do we want to give away? What do we think is missing? How can we create a curiosity? How do we want to intervene in what is happening around us? But to think in terms of what is current, I do not think so. RADIOTEATERN wants to be relevant, rather than current.



IUP

And what does that mean?


RT

This means that one thinks beyond what currently grabs media attention. The topicality that grows out of major events, protests, or a public debate are forces we feel and talk about, but those discussions depend on us accepting the systems they are in. Relevance, on the other hand, comes from trying to decouple thinking and doing from established systems, which of course is futile, but still...


IUP

It becomes quite abstract what you say.


RT

It doesn't matter, perhaps. Hopefully it's something we succeed in transforming, so that you experience it. We haven’t started the theatre to talk about theatre, but to make it.


IUP

Yes, and then we will get into what you intend to present. You will open the theatre with a work by the poet Alice Notley. Can you say something about that choice and about the show?


RT

Alice Notley is an established voice in contemporary American poetry. I would say that her poetry is very outward-looking, both in the themes that it critically relates to, phenomena in what we call 'the world', but also because it has a performative quality. This spring the first translation of Notley into Swedish was published, made by Marie Silkeberg. Even before this, we had thought about doing something with Notley's works, but now it turned out that the publication coincided with our plans, and that's great. Especially as the translation is so good. There is an actor and two musicians participating, so the music will play a big role in the performance. The idea is that the audience will also be involved.



IUP

Poetry, new music and audience participation, is that what it will look like. Is it, what should one say, a form that RADIOTEATERN will stick to?


RT

No, definitely not as some kind of recurring model. Poetry and texts by poets are something that will be there, new music and the interplay between music and text is something we are clearly interested in. That the audience is a co-creator is special for the Notley performance, or rather something that each director decides. Each performance is unique, but one thing we think should be recurring and that feels both fun and important, is that all the performances are presented live, to an audience. Even those that are pre-recorded, that it will be like a premiere, where people gather and listen together, while it’s broadcast over the net.


IUP

So, what will you present after Notley?


RT

We are in a planning stage and it is not completely decided what the repertoire will look like, but we think we will present about six performances next year. An audio play by Susanne Skog, a play by Birgitta Lillpers, hopefully a new play by Sara Mannheimer and an audio play based on a Strindberg text by Sten Sandell. Then it will be different, we'll see.


IUP

So, it is mostly Swedish playwrights and artists that you will work with?



RT

It may look like that, and of course, the Swedish language is what will be heard most, but we are keen to present both drama, radio plays and sound art from other parts of the world. It is important and something we will work hard to achieve. On the one hand, we will look for works to translate – but sound art often works outside the framework of the language. Even radio plays derive their expressive power from rhythm and timbre and are not always just about text and text comprehension. This is where great opportunities open up for collaborations with writers and artists from outside of Sweden.


IUP

It sounds ambitious and very exciting, I must say, but then, today, the competition for attention, the amount of works and the availability of music, movies and entertainment is enormous. How do you see that you can find a place in all this?


RT

Firstly, that question is not the most important for us. Our driving force is to create, make and present things that we ourselves think are really good and of a high quality. But apart from that, we believe that there is an interest and in fact a need for, the qualities that RADIOTEATERN stands for. Radio - if we call it that - is still a completely open, democratic, free and infinitely experimental means of expression. Its effect has a directness and presence that grows out of the lack of physicality itself. When images, actor’s movements, space and colour, don’t exist, it is the listener's own body that comes into focus, this is where it takes its true form!


IUP

Experimental, it's just a buzz-word!


RT

For me, absolutely not. Experimentation is not just talk, not a hidden and closed process, some kind of craft lurking in a corner, but on the contrary an open proposition. We will see to what extent RADIOTEATERN can live up to that, but there is not much vitality in what has already been done. It is not and cannot just be empty talk when one says that something new has to be done. It must be understood as a will to go beyond the limitations that the 'already known' set for us. I would probably say that there is a sharp dividing line between a listener who opens up to the unknown and one who prefers the recognizable. That dividing line, is unfortunate but somehow impossible to refute with discussions and arguments. Instead, one has to see it as a kind of condition, a starting point for a creation that wants to seek new paths. And it is there, right at that point, that an experimenter must work, an experimenter who puts 'the new' in contact with what is perceived as relevant.

 











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