The Print Room at the Coronet
First things first: Why did you want to show Little Eyolf at the Print Room?
Ibsen’s work is timeless but never more relevant than today. Many of the social and family issues Ibsen explores in Little Eyolf are echoed in today’s Europe. I thought the connection between the deeply personal issues and social issues highlighted in the play would provide a backdrop for exploring parallels to our lives today.
Print Room opened in 2008 – how has it evolved since then?
We started the Print Room 10 years ago in a derelict warehouse in West London. We created an art space for all forms of expression in an neighbourhood screaming for culture. Since then we have created works in drama, dance, performance art, poetry, visual arts, music and discussion. We have produced new work, recreated older pieces and brought some of the most interesting artists in the world into our home to allow them to create around our buildings. We strive for diversity in all its forms, frequently bringing international artists into our space.
In 2014 we moved up the road to the Coronet Theatre, a Victorian opera house that had been used as a cinema for almost 100 years. We have lovingly returned the space to its theatre roots and it is into our main auditorium that we welcome the NTN.
A lot of Print Room’s plays are being shown in other languages than English. How come you’ve choosen to show so much foreign theatre in their original language?
At the Print Room we have focused on art that will both entertain our audience and help broaden horizons. We don’t specifically focus on “foreign” theatre but rather on good art that helps promote discourse. Bringing artists from outside London or the UK and allowing them to perform in their natural language helps in this regard. Giving audiences the opportunity to hear the language in which a piece was written is a special treat.
Ibsen is a famous playwright, not only in Norway, but also in the UK and throughout the world. Can you tell us a bit about how the collaboration with the Norwegian National Theatre and the new Ibsen Company came into place?
I have been talking with Kåre Conradi for the past two years about things we could do together. We put on a successful production of Judgement Day a few years back and I have been looking for an opportunity to bring Ibsen back to our home ever since. Kåre’s suggestion that we bring the National Theatre to the Coronet is the perfect answer.
What kind of relation do you have to Henrik Ibsen’s work yourself?
I feel like Ibsen has been a part of my life from childhood. Having grown up with art of the European tradition, Ibsen always had a prominent place. On my visits to Norway while we were producing a Jan Fosse play, I found the spectre of Ibsen looming large in my thoughts and have been keen to further explore his works ever since.
What, from your point of view, is it that makes Ibsen’s plays so special?
Ibsen’s plays are universal – family drama, social challenge, personal turmoil – he has it all. They are beautifully constructed, with a purity of language and an emotional heart. His work has always resonated with English audiences and the chance to hear from artists deeply familiar with the work and in the original language is most exciting for UK audiences.
Lastly, we would love to hear about your future plans for the Print Room. Do you have any other Norwegian plays coming up?
We have already performed Ibsen and Fosse at the Print Room and will perform Lady from the Sea with the Ibsen Theatre Company next Spring. I’d love to bring some additional Fosse work and have been looking for the right way to bring Knut Hamsun for some time. I get excited just thinking about it!
Little Eyolf will be shown on 19-21 april at Print Room.