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Jon Fosse

Fosse: Plays Six

FOREWORD BY BERIT GULLBERG. TRANSLATED BY MAY-BRIT AKERHOLT

Twenty years ago, Jon Fosse was known as a poet and essayist in some well-read circles; his future success as a dramatist was at its very beginning. Maybe one could call him the reluctant playwright at the start of this period. His plays were being produced in Norway, although with a certain caution, later to move across the borders to insightful and quality-hungry theatres, most of them small, with underground status.

Directors were fascinated by the musical, stringent minimalism and the profundity yet apparent simpleness of his stories.

The Swedish author and critic Leif Zern, who has followed Fosse’s career from the beginning, should, eventually, write The Luminous Darkness, an enlightening book about Fosse which highlights the mysticism of the author’s steadily growing body of work. As the years have passed, agents, directors, translators and other fiery spirits have transferred the flaming torch between theatres in various countries.

From having been a modestly recognised author, Jon Fosse now has a weighty and luminous name as a dramatist across continents. Only India and Africa are left. His more than forty plays are translated to all the European languages as well as to Farsi, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. We know of at least 900 productions, and I believe that an unspecified number of performances take place without our knowledge and without payment of any copyright. At the beginning of the 2000s, a tsunami of Fosse plays premiered in Germany as well as France, where the wave is still rolling on. The great French director Claude Régy put Fosse on the world map with his outstanding and sensational production of Someone Is Going to Come in 1999 at Théâtre Nanterre in Paris. After that, a long line of Europe’s leading directors continued to stage a series of Jon Fosse’s plays. It was almost like a race. The first English production, The Child, took place at the Gate Theatre in London in 1998, directed by Ramin Gray. The performance was met with mild and courteous interest. A few productions followed, among them Nightsongs directed by Katie Mitchell in David Harrower’s translation at the Royal Court, but that was a less successful event. It proved difficult to mount another attempt with any great success. Several other translators tried their talents on Fosse’s texts, among them Geoffrey Mutton and Ann Henning, and in USA, Sara Cameron Sunde. But the truly great artistic break-through in UK would not happen until May 2011, when Fosse finally managed to bring English critics as well as audiences enthusiastically into his world. I am referring to the recently tragically deceased French director Patrice Chéreau’s illuminating, vibrant staging of I Am the Wind at the Young Vic in London, in Simon Stephens’ version. It muted all resistance in England. Simon Stephens and Patrice Chéreau travelled to Jon Fosse in Bergen before the rehearsals. Simon told me later: ‘It was a special night. One of the most beautiful nights in my working life. It felt like a special honour to spend the evening with these two towers of European theatre.’

Welcome to Fosse’s illuminating darkness!

RAMBUKU

Characters

SHE

HE

RAMBUKU

Rambuku premiered at Det Norske Teatret –

The Norwegian Theatre — 2 February 2006.

Director: Kai Johnsen

Designer: Kari Gravklev

Cast:

She: Ragnhild Hilt

He: Svein Erik Brodal

Rambuku: Morten Espeland

A living-room

An elderly woman in an overcoat and with a small bag over her shoulder

An elderly man in an overcoat

SHE

So

yes

yes here we are

quite short pause

and how often haven’t we been

standing here

quite short pause

like this

quite short pause

it is as if

we have always been here

quite short pause

just been here

quite short pause

year in and year out

have you and I

been here

quite short pause

always

short pause

and you don’t say anything

Why don’t you say something

quite short pause

can’t you say something

quite short pause

don’t just stand there

please

quite short pause

you just stand there

quite short pause

and look and look

yes

quite short pause

but don’t do it

don’t just stand there

and look and look

can’t you do something

quite short pause

say something

short pause

why don’t you say something

surely you can say something

talk to me

can’t you

quite short pause

you can

can’t you

quite short pause

say something then

short pause

oh well

just stand there

then

just stand there

quite short pause

yes

yes why don’t you

quite short pause

but it can’t just be

like this

quite short pause

no

no that’s not possible

Quite short pause

And why won’t you say anything

Long pause

But do you know

quite long pause

yes

yes that today’s the day

when you and I

are going to Rambuku

you know that

laughs briefly to herself

we’re going

all the way to Rambuku

quite short pause

you know that

don’t you

quite short pause

you know that

right

short pause

but why can’t you answer

say something

say

yes say if you know it

say if you know that today you and I

are going to Rambuku

quite short pause

but you don’t answer

don’t say anything

quite short pause

no matter what I say

you don’t answer

but it’s true

that today you and I are going

to Rambuku

quite short pause

for you know that far away somewhere

there is Rambuku

quite short pause

and there we shall live

there you and I

shall live now

Short pause

Yes we shall

Quite short pause

You and I

shall live there

quite short pause

yes

quite short pause

and do you know

what it’s like in Rambuku

no

I don’t suppose you do

short pause

in Rambuku there are angels

and trees

trees that are

     

 

2011 - 2018