I sat down to write about my experience being out in the countryside directing an amateur theatre production. A great experience for a young and inexperienced director, as myself. Getting to work with people that share the same “hobby” of making theatre. A large group of people with complete different backgrounds, with very different experiences of doing theatre and a wide range of age. A fantastic way of sharing a little life together, something they cherish for the rest of their lives.
We did the classic Nordic children play by Thorbjörn Egner about the animals in Hakkebakkeskogen or Hálsaskógi as we call it in Iceland. A classic play about being good to one another, to NOT eat each other... "All the animals in the forest should be friends", is the first rule. A highly political play in my opinion. Filled with contradictions of how we should live our lives and what should be allowed and what not and characters you can well relate to in our daily life. But it has a main message that we want our children to understand and be influenced by....be good to one another. The small animals can help the bigger ones and the big ones can help the smaller ones... Right?
So I was there for 7 weeks. It was great. More than great, in fact. I learned a lot, gained new friends and got more experienced working as a director. Leading a group. Setting goals. Supporting each individual. Treating them equally. Asking them to show each other respect and support each other in their work. My first rule in this small town was no gossip within the group, mutual respect, support and honesty was our motto. Solving the problems by finding the root first, talking to each other as equals before shouting at each other, complaining, telling each other off or leaving in anger. And YES it was difficult at times. Of course, we are only human. But I believe I was able to create a good working atmosphere within the group so everyone felt important and felt they were listen to and felt they were able to create in a safe place, allowed to make mistakes. A working environment that I believe is what should always be everywhere. No hierarchy but cooperation with leadership.
As I´m writing this I keep thinking about our world today in relation to the elections in America and the latest election in Iceland, Colombia and Brexit. I have this urge of standing on a mountaintop shouting so everyone can hear:
Hey lets be good to one another and treat each other with respect regardless of our background, colour, shape, type, education, status, finance… Let´s not talk down to each other or talk badly about one another. Let´s talk about the root of the problem. Lets attack it. Let´s face it! Meet it! And treat it!
I don´t think we have much time actually. We need to begin today. Yes we need leaders but we need the right ones, that will treat us with respect and will support us no matter who we are. Because each human being on this earth has the right to live and has the same right as others.
My writing today isn´t about our next theatre piece or directly about our theatre work at the moment. I cannot help myself writing my thoughts as they come to me now, today on the 9th of November when I sit down to write...
Theatre is about sharing the world, sharing experiences, thoughts, ideology, discoveries and to make a change. Theatre should challenge our thoughts; it used to be a media that would uncover the truth when needed. Theatre is a tool to have an impact, to share information in a different way than writings and films can. Theatre is a powerful medium that serves a greater purpose than only entertaining the audiences. We shouldn´t be afraid to get our voices out there and sharing our vision and telling the truth as it is.
For our next project I personally have great hopes of sharing truth in a different way I´ve done before. Telling real stories. Getting more voices out there for others to hear them and be influenced by. We can make a change. We can have a great impact.
I have only positive energy to give to the year 2017 and I know we are a large group of positive people out there that are ready to fight for a better life on our beautiful planet. I want to end with a quote that I´m very fond of from Dr. Seuss: "I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights"
- Bergdís Júlía Jóhannsdóttir