Theatre Heritage and Innovation

Norway-Iceland-Hungary Theatre Network

Hungary is located on the Eastern periphery of Europe, while Norway, Iceland on the Northern periphery of the continent. The region of Scandinavian countries is often looked at with some envy for both their economic prosperity and cultural richness. The many similarities and differences almost automatically offer the possibility of cultural cooperation and mutual exchange of experiences by developing a network of experts and institutions to promote this process. The project is mainly interested to see how is it possible under globalized conditions to follow the regional traditions, enhance them theatrically or through contemporary playwriting. How can theatre negotiate between global and local audience needs? How does local and national identity be represented in theatre and drama? In what ways and what means do theatres have to address small communities too? It also needs to be asked how theatre can incorporate new technologies, how it is able to ‘theatricalize’ them and what new aesthetic forms and methods it generates. In what new interpretations do the classical plays embody today and how do contemporary texts react to the new questions encountered in our contemporary societies?



When hearing about Norwegian theatre and drama, the first thing Hungarian people think is Ibsen. The average person does not really know anything beyond that. True, Ibsen’s plays were almost instantly embraced by the Hungarian stage, his first play was staged in Arad in 1879, the next one in 1887 and, finally the Thália Társaság (working between 1904-1908) gave him a constant presence in their repertory. Ibsen’s plays are regularly performed since, the latest being a performance of Brand at the National Theatre, directed by Sándor Zsótér.

Ibsen’s plays stem from a very specific historical and societal development which characterized Norway, where the ancient democratic and liberal peasant traditions reached the threshold of modernity relatively separated from the main European process of development. The moral dilemmas highlighted in his plays, the strong desire of an outbreak from a petty existence or the utopistic formulations of existence even today are seen as relevant questions.

In the sixties the Odin Teatret led by Eugenio Barba settled in the small town of Holstebro, which had a great effect on the European theatre life as a whole, including Norvay and Hungary. Their work methods, theatrical and aesthetic means of expression had an energizing effect on the revival of Norwegian theatre in the seventies. In this period many new companies were formed in the country, trying to break free from the confines of short-sightedness and conservatism. Thanks to the cultural decentralisation which characterized the eighties and nineties a new system of subsidies was introduced to support the touring of companies, which led not only to the birth of new ensembles but the theatrical elaboration of the issues and topics preoccupying the local communities have also strongly become an important part of theatrical work. The Hungarian spectators could have an encounter with the contemporary cultural life in Norway through a performance lecture event in 2015 at Trafó, which featured stories of Hungarian expats in Norway who presented what ‘Norwegian life was like as a Hungarian’.

All these inspire us to get to know in more detail and disseminate the theatrical culture in Central Europe of these two small countries on the northern edge of Europe, Norway and Iceland.



The Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute has an long-time experience in international cooperation in theatre research, organizing symposia and international theatre promotion. We mostly cooperated with EU fellow theatre institutes and museums (ECLAP – European Collected Library of Artistic Performance), STEP (Project on European Theatre Systems), and we have a very intensive cooperation with the regional institutes (the Czech, Slovak, Polish and Slovenian theatre institutes and museums). Our research and promotion network was built through large-scale projects TACE (Theatre Architecture in Central Europe), PACE.V4 (Performing Arts Central Europe), EEPAP (Eastern European Performing Arts Network). We also foster a strong connection with theatres from Romania, Slovakia and Serbia, especially those performing in Hungarian language. Unfortunately we, and our partners, have very little live contact with Scandinavian countries, especially Norvay and Iceland, therefore the newest theatre achievements from these countries rarely reach our region, and vice versa. We believe that by setting up such a theatre network would also benefit for the artist from the donor countries to establish connections in the whole Central European region (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria, Croatia etc.)



Conferences, lectures, workshops and translation seminars will be organized which would support the birth of a network of Norwegian, Icelandic, Scandinavian and Hungarian researchers, which would also promote the creation of theatrical collaborations, drama translations into all of these languages and scientific studies in the topics highlighted.


Workshop for puppetry and acting students, theatre makers about the multimedial possibilities of theatre, puppet and object theatre in the service of education and community building (planned date: February 2017)

International conference about theatre and youth, theatre and society (planned date: February 2017)

Preparation of Hungarian language synopses of at least 10 plays from Norway/Iceland to be distributed to the different theatres, schools in Hungary (by April 2017)

Publication of conference papers and two plays from Norway/Iceland translated to Hungarian (April 2017)

Performed reading by professional actors in Hungarian of the two newly translated plays at Jurányi Incubator House (April 2017)

Study trip to Norway, professional networking (November-December 2016)



The project would be organized and coordinated by the Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute during 2. May 2016 and 30. April 2017.



Hungarian partners: University of Theatre and Film (Budapest), Jurányi Incubator House, Dramatikkens hus, Oslo. 


Photo: Attila Szabó