The Norwegian Shakespeare Society
William Shakespeare is no doubt one of the most important personalities in our cultural history, which is particularly evident in the influence he still exerts on theatre, literature and philosophy. Harold Bloom puts Shakespeare at the fulcrum of Western literature; to Bloom, Shakespeare has paved the way for other major writers such as Ibsen, Goethe and James Joyce. It is evident that Ibsen was influenced by Shakespeare; his texts contain both open and hidden quotations from Shakespeare.
Among other Norwegian writers who owe a heavy debt to Shakespeare, we find Henrik Wergeland, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Olav Nygard. Within the fields of philosophy and science, Shakespeare has been an eminently quotable influence – with Hamlet as the most important source of inspiration. Freud found Hamlet one of the main examples of the Oedipus complex, and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida sees him as a very vivid picture of the political challenges we still face in our time. In recent years the Bard has also had a renaissance within film; in particular, Baz Luhrman's Romeo+Juliet has shown how modern Shakespeare still is.
It should be obvious that Shakespeare is just as important today as a hundred or two hundred years ago. The Norwegian Shakespeare Society aims to convey the role Shakespeare plays for our culture; our main task is to increase the awareness of his works in Norway.
We used to publish Norsk Shakespeare- og teatertidsskrift (Norwegian Shakespeare- and theatre magazine), a quality magazine which has been very favourably reviewed in newspapers such as Dagbladet, Morgenbladet, Expressen and Dagsavisen. It is now published independently - see its Norwegian website. The magazine contains essays and articles on the work of Shakespeare, interviews with actors, directors, scholars and others, as well as reviews of theatrical productions, books and films. Moreover, the magazine also aims to present a great deal of material about theatre and literature in general, including contemporary drama and writings. It is possible to subscribe to the magazine, or to buy it at selected bookshops and Narvesen outlets. It is published in Norwegian.
Every year we arrange a study and theatre trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, which has been a great success. There is a limited number of spots available. The Stratford courses are being offered by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in cooperation with The Shakespeare Institute and The Royal Shakespeare Company. The course lasts for one week, with lectures and discussions in the daytime and visits to the performances of The Royal Shakespeare Company in the evenings. After the performances it is often possible to meet the actors at their favourite pub, "The Dirty Duck".
In addition to the annual trip to Stratford, we have also made other trips, for instance to Stockholm and to Bergen.
The Norwegian Shakespeare Society has been responsible for several events, including public lectures. In connection with the production of King Lear at Den Nationale Scene in Bergen, Edvard Hoem talked about his work as a translator of Shakespeare.
In the spring of 2000, we held a Shakespeare film festival in cooperation with the Blindern Film Club. Working with theatres and other institutions, the Society has also held several readings where everybody who want to be a 'Shakespearean actor' is welcome to give it a try.
On 1 April 2000, we held a seminar on Norwegian translations of Shakespeare. The event took place at the small stage on the National Theatre, and a number of translators, actors and scholars put Norwegian editions of Shakespeare in the spotlight: Edvard Hoem, Håvard Rem, Øyvind Berg, Morten Krogstad, Henning Hagerup, Keith Brown, Kåre Conradi, Kim Haugen, Erland Bakker, Tone Danielsen and Kai Remlov.
In connection with our Annual General Meeting in 2002, a seminar was held on Shakespeare's sonnets.
We hope that these webpages will contribute to make us more visible. The webpages have been developed by Yngve Nordgård. The current webmaster is Anne Kari Sorknes.
Translated by Tore Jan Narvestad
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