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The Scandinavian Program Signe Karlström Event

November 18-20, 2016


The Signe Karlström Event was inaugurated in 1989 in honor of Signe Karlström and her family, who are great benefactors of the University of Michigan’s Scandinavian Program. Originally an annual lecture, the format was extended in 2000 to allow for a variety of cultural events.

The 2016 three-day festival celebrates the Swedish playwright Lars Norén and contemporary Nordic theater. The events are coordinated by Johanna Eriksson, director of the Scandinavian program, in collaboration with RC drama faculty Kate Mendeloff, and Professor Malcolm Tulip, Asst. Professor, Head of Directing in the Dept. of Theatre & Drama. We extend gratitude to Harold ‘Hal’ Rothbart for initiating the Norén Festival.

Lars Norén is considered the greatest contemporary Swedish playwright since August Strindberg, having written more than 75 plays that combine humor with a powerful emotional impact and the dynamic search for new forms of expression. His first play was produced in 1973 at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm, but his breakthrough came in 1982 with Night is a Mother to the Day. Since then, his plays have been regularly performed in Nordic countries and European countries and translated into several languages, but English-language readers were deprived of his major works until 2013, when Chaucer Press Books published Two Plays: And Give Us the Shadows and Autumn and Winter.

Translator Marita Lindholm Gochman was born in Sweden and came to America in 1964, where she has had a rich theatrical career. In 1985, she translated her first Norén play into English, The last Supper, and since then has worked with him on 25 of his plays, making her Norén’s foremost English language translator. Since 1987 Ms. Gochman has served on the boards of Circle in the Square, The International Theatre Institute, and The Signature


Friday, Nov 18

5:00 PM: Terminal 3 - staged reading by Kate Mendeloff

6:30 PM: Lecture, Contemporary Scandinavian Theatre, Chad Eric Bergman, Akvavit Theatre


8:00 PM: War, directed by Malcolm Tulip

Followed by a conversation with directors, actors and the translator of Lars Norén´s plays from Swedish into English, Marita Lindholm Gochman


Saturday, Nov 19

12-3:00 PM: Theater workshop, Akvavit Theatre

5:00 PM: Blood - guest staged by Akvavit Theater, Chicago

6:30 PM: Reception

8:00 PM: War, directed by Malcolm Tulip


Sunday, Nov 20

12:00 PM: Terminal 3 - staged reading by Kate Mendeloff

2:00 PM: War, directed by Malcolm Tulip


All events are free and open to the public. The performances, lecture and workshop are held in the Walgreen Drama Center, Studio 1, University of Michigan North Campus, Murfin Avenue, near Bonisteel Boulevard, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Lars Norén Theatre Festival is a co-production between the Germanic Department’s Scandinavian Program, the Residential College, the Department of Theatre & Drama, with additional sponsorship from the Swedish Institute and SWEA Michigan.


Friday, November 18, 8 PM
Saturday, November 19, 8 PM
Sunday, November 20, 2 PM

Studio 1, Walgreen Drama Center, North Campus,
University of Michigan

War (2005), studio production directed by Malcolm Tulip, Department of Theatre & Drama: a raw depiction of a family reduced to mere survival, set in an unnamed war-torn country. Their world explodes when the mother, her brother-in-law, and her daughters must confront the unexpected return of her husband-who was presumed to be killed in action-and is now blind.

Malcolm Tulip (Director War) is an Asst. Professor, Head of Directing in the Dept. of Theatre & Drama. He studied Dance and Art at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London and is a graduate of L’École Jacques Lecoq. Recently he has performed with colleagues Amy Chavasse and Michael Gould in Berlin, Uppsala, Sweden and NYC. U-M: The Arabian Nights, Iphigenia at Aulis, The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, Red Noses, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Spring Awakening, Trumpets & Raspberries, Pentecost, Trafford Tanzi, All’s Well That Ends Well, Jonesin’, Tales from Ovid, You Can’t Take It with You, The Burial at Thebes.

Regional Theatre: Directing: Amadeus, Retreat from Moscow, Humble Boy, Threepenny Opera, Art, Elizabeth Rex, The Caretaker, The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Acting: The Good Thief, Mnemonic, John Gabriel Borkman, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Amadeus, I Am My Own Wife, Blithe Spirit.

War Cast

Mother: Lila Hood

Beenina: Zoey Bond

Semira: Lauren Balone

Father: Ryan Rosenheim

Uncle: Aaron Huey

Set Design: Prof. Vincent Mountain
Assistant Director: Kellan Kryak
Stage Manager: Amelia Dahmer
Sound design: Socrates Papageorgiou, Benjamin Factor


Friday, November 18, 5 PM
Sunday, November 20, 12 PM

Studio 1, Walgreen Drama Center, North Campus,
University of Michigan

Terminal 3 (2006), staged reading directed by Kate Mendeloff, RC: a beautiful, sparse play set in a hospital waiting room where a young couple is there to welcome the birth of their first baby and a middle-age couple is there to identify their dead son.

Kate Mendeloff has taught acting and directing at the Residential College of the University of Michigan since 1991. Before coming to Michigan, she directed professionally at Center Stage Theater in Baltimore, Maryland and at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. She was Artistic Director of Talespinners Theater in San Francisco from 1985-90, where she supervised the development of 40 new plays. She has directed at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor, the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts and at the International Chekhov Festival in Moscow, Russia. She created and has been Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Arb since 2001.

Scene 1: an empty waiting room
Scene 2: a hospital room on stage right/ a morgue room on stage left

He: Will Arnuk
She: Emma McGlashen
Man: Graham Atkin
Woman: Carol Gray
Guard: Rob Sulewski

Lights and Sound: Molly Leonard
Directed by Kate Mendelof


Saturday, November 19, 5 PM

Studio 1, Walgreen Drama Center, North Campus, University of Michigan

Blood (1994), guest staged reading by Akvavit Theatre: about a wife and husband tormented over their missing son and the husband’s male lover, who are eventually brought together in a heartrending denouement as the unbearable truth of their lives is revealed.

Akvavit Theatre is a collaborative voice in the Chicago theatre scene. Taking as our inspiration the striking landscapes of the five Nordic countries—harnessing the force of the glacier, in its powerful seeming stillness, the volcano, in its sudden white-hot eruption, and the arctic silence in between—we strive to find the universal through the voices of the Nordic world. This is our contribution to the American mosaic. And like our namesake drink, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the plays, workshops and events that we produce.

Chad Eric Bergman, Producing Artistic Director:
Chad Eric Bergman actively collaborates in the Chicago Storefront scene having worked with Stage Left, Live Bait, Chicago Dramatists, MPAACT, parker, Plasticene and Akvavit in various artistic ways. He has been an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Summer Incubator. He spent a year in Finland on a Fulbright exploring bilingual theatre. At North Park University, he has been developing a theatre curriculum that is based on the Chicago Storefront Theatre model.

Breahan Eve Pautsch. Literary Manager:
Breahan Eve Pautsch is originally from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She earned her BA in Theatre and English at UW-Madison and has been working in Chicago as an actor and director since 2003. She is a company member with Akvavit Theatre, where she serves as Literary Manager, and she is also a company member with Indie Boots Theatre. As a director, she has worked with Akvavit, Raven Theatre, Wildclaw Theatre, The International Voices Project, Hobo Junction Productions, Full Voice Productions, Mudgeonsoul Cinema, Broken Nose Theatre and Stockyards Theatre Project.

Kirstin Franklin, Casting Director:
Born and raised in Colorado, Kirstin is an actor, director, playwright and educator based in Chicago, IL. She has been a professional theatre maker for over 13 years, performing and directing in regional theatres across the country from Minneapolis to New York City. She has also taught a broad range of theatre classes at various colleges throughout Chicago and has lead students abroad to study Theatre in London. Kirstin holds a BA in theatre from St. Olaf College and an MFA in acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Kirstin is a company member with Akvavit Theatre.

Mark Litwicki has appeared in Akvavit’s Frozen on the Square (1982), Mishap, and Autumn Dream. Other recent projects include co-directing They Died Where They Lied for Akvavit in 2013 and directing En las sombras de Colján for Spanishlanguage theater company Colectivo el Pozo in 2012.

Amber Robinson is a director, actor and devisor, and a member of TUTA Theatre in addition to Akvavit. Most recently Amber performed in New York at Roundabout and The Signature Theater with Emma Stanton’s award-winning play, “No Candy”. In Chicago, Amber has worked with many storefront companies including Strange Tree, Forks & Hope, Strawdog, Collaboraction, Redmoon, and Emerald City, as well as directing several projects for Grey Ghost Theatre, of which she is a co-founder. Amber is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and the Moscow Art Theatre’s American Studio.

Josh Zagoren is from Iowa, schooled in Boston and has been a writer/actor in Chicago since 2006, performing in four WildClaw productions (Legion, Carmilla, The Shadow Over Innsmouth and the 2015 remount of The Revenants) as well as hosting our annual Deathscribe. On the sly, he performs every Saturday as Chad the Bird of The Paper Machete at Chicago’s Historic Green Mill Lounge. Terrified of airplanes, totally has a collection of skulls and falls asleep to The X-Files, he is very happy to be home.

Blood Cast:
Rosa: Breahan Pautsch
Eric: Mark Litwicki
Madeleine: Amber Robinson
Luca: Josh Zagoren
Voices: ensemble
Stage Directions: Kirstin Franklin

Akvavit Theatre Workshop: THE AKVAVIT AESTHETIC

Saturday, November 19, 12-3 PM
Studio 1, Walgreen Drama Center, North Campus, University of Michigan

Performing the Nordic Aesthetic (or as known in the Nordic countries: theatre)

For six years critics and audience have talked about how different the look and feel of an Akvavit show is. Actors and Designers in shows have discussed how much they enjoy entering a mysterious new way of thinking. What is it that is unique to the theatre of this region of the world? How do we define and use concepts like silence and ambiguity? What do jantelagen, lagom and sisu mean for us?

Join us for a three part exploration as we work together to engage in this style.

Part 1: The Power of Negative Space (mise-en-scen)
Part 2: The Power of Ambiguity (relationship)
Part 3: The Power of Silence (language)

Akvavit Theatre is a collaborative voice in the Chicago theatre scene. Taking as our inspiration the striking landscapes of the five Nordic countries—harnessing the force of the glacier, in its powerful seeming stillness, the volcano, in its sudden white-hot eruption, and the arctic silence in between—we strive to find the universal through the voices of the Nordic world. This is our contribution to the American mosaic. And like our namesake drink, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the plays, workshops and events that we produce.


Terminal 3, published in Three Plays: Demons, Act, and Terminal 3, by Lars Norén, translated from the Swedish by Marita Lindholm Gochman, ©Marita Lindholm Gochman, 2013, Publisher: Richard Altschuler & Associates, Inc./Chaucer Press Books.

Blood and War, published in Blood and War, by Lars Norén, translated from the Swedish by Marita Lindholm Gochman, ©Marita Lindholm Gochman, 2014, Publisher Richard Altschuler & Associates, Inc./Chaucer Press Books.