«03:08.38 - STATES OF EMERGENCY»
by Tore Vagn Lid
It is now over ten years – it has already become history:
A timeline stretches through a framework, built up as an installation of wood, camera, instruments, track strings, tape players and small and large loudspeakers. Second-by-second, minute-by-minute, a team of sketch artist, singers, musicians, set designers and film artists shall reconstruct the time it took a young man to blow up the Norwegian government building and then massacre young social democratic politicians at a summer camp outside Oslo in 2011. Unlike films about the terrorist’s attack, or plays that read aloud from Anders B. Breivik’s manifesto, the artists do not work in retrospect, but in a sense prospectively. That is to say: The events are attempted to be reconstructed “from the beginning”, from the chain of events - when nothing was yet clear, and no one quite knew what was about to happen; what was important or not; who would be behind it, and what the outcome of this bloody Friday would be.
«A rare and impressive piece of art, masterfully conceived, and masterfully executed»
Jan Landro, Dag og Tid
Reconstruction of an afternoon: The inside of the ”state of emergency”
It’s now over ten years - it has already become history.
A timeline stretches through a framework, built up as a wooden installation, with camera, instruments, aerial cables, tape recorders and small and big loudspeakers. Second-by-second, minute-by-minute a team of sketch artists, musicians and filmmakers is reconstructing the time it took a young man to blow up a Norwegian government building and then execute young social democrats at a summer camp.
Unlike films about Breivik’s act of terror, or plays reading aloud from his manifesto, our aim is not to work retro-, but rather prospectively; the events are being reconstructed from the beginning, from the chain of events, when nothing was yet clear , and nobody quite knew what was going on, what was important or not, who was behind, and what the result of this bloody Friday afternoon might be.
But it’s a hard summer rain falling.
At the FM network there is a news update on the welfare of circus elephants. There is a report on a holiday guest who has fallen asleep on the bathroom floor, clogging the shower drain at a hotel in Grimstad. In a warm office in a rainy city in Western Norway there is a young man preparing a theatre performance. On Utøya, outside Oslo, young people from the labor party union have gathered, to sing about love and listen to former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland talk about solidarity and justice.
The dramaturgy of the ”state of emergency”.
Then; at 15:25.22 it explodes.
But the drama itself will take time. News updates are coming in – true and false. They are meant to be descriptive, but they are picked up, transformed, and become them selves intervening actions that in their turn create new situations, new realities.
-At 15:54.07: “There has been another explosion!”
Different broadcasting editors, financed in different ways, respond differently. Some have a crisis plan, others just themselves and their ready-made play lists.
-At 15:34: “The Final Countdown” by Europe.
-At 15:53:” Earth Song” by Michael Jackson.
-At 15:51 the speculations start.
Gradually there is a need for answers, and the experts get dressed for their part, and are called to the stage. For someone must know! There are speculations, at first in Norwegian, then in English, German, French and Spanish.
In this web of reactions, national and supranational, one can sense the contours of a dramaturgy of the state of emergency. I think it can tell us something about our reactions, not afterwards, but in the middle of such a state of exception - when nobody can know for sure about the extent, for what reason and motivation; where speculations go in all directions because the world needs answers, where Facebook photos are replaced by Norwegian flags – national symbols, that later on – just as collectively, are replaced by the old ones; where suppressed political ideas can thrive on the street and on the couch, where choices, big or small, have to be made - there and then, where pauses and silence become screaming.
Maybe this artistic search for a dramaturgy of ”the states of emergency” can trace what the political everyday life, the state of normality, erases? And maybe “03:08.38” could be a kind of ”emergency” theatre – I mean – as a preparation for those ”states of emergency” that certainly lay ahead of us.
When those who share the art of the moment are not at the same place.
An old truth has always been suited to bridge the otherwise stubborn internal fronts of theatre: A performance is always unique. It can only happen once - for those who are present, in the same room, at the same time. Likewise - theatre is above all the art of the moment. Furthermore, the theatre is also the art of the social space. This also in every sense applies to the premiere of the performance “03:08.38 States of Emergency” that, after a series of etudes in Frankfurt, Fjaler, Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim, has reached its first full- scale version at the Arctic Arts Festival in Harstad. However, when this work - after all - differs from the “normal state” of theatre, it is not because we set these qualities aside, but rather seek to challenge and stretch our established concepts/truths of the theatre – such as “us, being present” and “being in the same space”.
Listening posts: (Harstad - Trondheim - Bergen - X)
The premiere of “03:08:38” does not only take place at the Arctic Arts Festival in Harstad, but also - and simultaneously – at two other locations, miles away, in two other cities:
At Listening-post Kontrollrommet (NTNU, Trondheim) June 22 at 15:20:00, there is an audience sitting together with active performers in the play. And, at precisely the same time as in Trondheim and Harstad, audience will enter the theatre in Bergen - sitting together with musicians who are playing together with their colleagues 800 km away.
These so called “listening posts” are not merely “streamed theatre” - because none of the spaces should be considered “outside” or “beyond” the theatre room, but rather as independent parts of the extended “scenographic” meeting point of the performance. Hence, the concept of the «listening post» should not be seen as an attempt to “individualise” the theatre experience for the spectators. On the contrary, we ask with curiosity: What does it really entail - at this very moment in history, to be “together”, “simultaneously” and in “the same room”? And what possibilities does this attempt for an extension - this sort of digital de-centralisation of the theatre space – give to the story, to the interplay between the performers and the audience - and not least, between audience and audience who gather in the same room, at the same time, but at different locations? Those who choose to log in, and be present, either alone or together with others, gets to decide for themselves.
Tore Vagn Lid
Essay for the premiere of version #0 and #1
Arctic Arts Festival
03:08:38 - States of Emergency, ILT FESTIVALEN 2023
«There is only one performance you will ever need to see about 22nd of July, this one! »
Kari Frøysland, NRK, Norwegian National Broadcast (NO)
«A rare and impressive piece of art, masterfully conceived, and masterfully executed»
Jan Landro, Dag og Tid
«I could never imagine a minute-by-minute theatre performance about the terrorist attack on Norway July 22nd 2011, would be amongst the most meaningful performances I’ve ever seen in theatre»
Kari Frøysland, NRK
«Ambitious and impressive craftsmanship.»
Grethe Melbye, BT
«In fact «03:08:38 States of emergency» may prove to be the most important artistic treatment of the terrorist attack on 22/7 ever»
Mode Steinkjer, Dagsavisen (NO)
«It seems Incredibly dramatic in all its minimalism, as much as we can`t bear to follow the neon green trail of led-bulbs through the landscape that indicates the ticking countdown of the drama by lighting up minute by minute. Whenever someone is killed, they light up in red.»
Monna Ditmer, Politiken (DK)
«The fact that we sit together and follow the whole process minute by-minute, and are equally powerless in the face of actions and reactions, is a convincing undertaking in Tore Vagn Lid’s work»
Casper Koeller - Sceneblog (DK)
«Something that always is pointed out as one of theatre’s most important and characteristic qualities is the so-called “here and now” feeling. (…) This is a truth that is fundamentally challenged in this project, and it shows that there are many ways of being together, and that theatricality could be created anywhere.»
Charlotte Myrbråthen, Norsk Shakespear Tidsskift (NO)
Audio-visual concept, director: Tore Vagn Lid
Scenography: Øystein Nesheim/Tore Vagn Lid
Camera-team/performers: Anders Elsrud Hultgreen (main camera) Tor Christian F. Bleikli (light/camera), Øystein Nesheim (cartoonist / sketch artist)
Illustrators (live): Øystein Nesheim, Arvid Pettersen
Composers: Tore Vagn Lid / Terje Isungset
Technician (Sound / video): Mathias Grønsdahl
Sound design: Tore Vagn Lid / Morten Skage / Mathias Grønsdahl
Musicians: Terje Isungset (percussion), Tore Vagn Lid (guitar), Per Jørgensen (trumpet/song), Morten Skage (bass)
Singers: Idar Aaserud Løvlid, Hilde Annine Hasselberg, Rolf J Stewart, Tora Kristiane Finne, Karl Reksten, Daniela Iancu Johannessen, ngvill Espedal, Alexandra Bobrow, Alexander Fiske Fosse, Erling Hannaas, Stian Jebsen
Research (Norwegian news):Tor Christian Bleikli, Øystein Nesheim.
Research-team Geramny (international news):
Saija Kontio, Anna Neudert, Agnes Fink, Maíra Wiener, Ching Wen Peng, Julia Forgacs, Insa Peters, Xiaofen Wang, Alexandra Finder, Julia Salzmann, Ivana Mitric, Dennis Hoss, Helene Röhnsch, Ozi Ozar, Anja Schneidereit, Angelina Stross, Fabian Mauderer, Anne-Laure Thumerel.
Research-group CTRLnet (NTNU), Jens Røyrvik, Haakon Fyhn, Barbro Rønning, Petter Grytten Almklov.
Det Vestnorske Teateret, Wrap Arts Centre, Dramatikkens hus, Festspillene i Nord-Norge, Teaterfestivalen i Fjaler, Institute of media and film science W. Goethe Universitet, (Frankfurt a.Main) og Vega Scene.
Produced by Transiteatret-Bergen
Supported by: Norsk Kulturråd, Fond for lyd og bilde, Bergen Kommune, Fritt ord.
Version history 2019-2022:
Version #0: Arctic Arts Festival, June 2019
Online premiere - «03:08:38 States of Emergency (15:20 - 16:50) - with listening posts in Harstad, Bergen and Trondheim. Access to main room is closed - audiences follow the event online and at Listening-posts in Bergen and Trondheim. (Duration 01:30:00)
Version #1: Harstad, June 2019
First stage version «03:08:38 States of Emergency (15:20 - 16:50), with audiences present at Listening-posts in Bergen and Trondheim. (Duration 01:30:00)
Version #2 DVT Bergen, January 2020
Full stage version, «03:08:38 Tilstander av unntak» at Det Vestnorske Teateret, Bergen (Duration: 03:08:38)
Version #3, Vega Scene, Oslo, February 2020
Full Stage version in Oslo with listening posts in Bergen, and Trondheim. Members of the orchestra are located in different cities - playing together in the performance.
Version #4 , Special version, June 2021
10 year anniversary-version at/from UTØYA: As a part of the anniversary for the attacks in 2021 - The performance was moved to the small island «Utøya» - the incident scene for the terrorist attack in 2011. The show was broadcasted to 12 Listening-posts r Theatres all over Norway, and also at the Copenhagen Stage festival in Denmark.
Version #5 TIFF/HT, Tromsø, January 2022
First International version at/from Tromsø international Film Festival with listening posts in USA, RUSSIA and IRAQ.The performance opens the Tromsø International Film Festival in collaboration with Hålogaland Teater. The performance was broadcasted to audiences present at l istening posts in New York (USA), Moscow (Russia), Erbil and Baghdad (Iraq). and translated in 4 languages.
Version #6, Showbox festival, Oslo, November 2022
Premiere of «small version» called «States of Exception (15:20-16:20) An hour that formed Norway» at Showbox International Festival, Oslo. The performance concentrates on the first sixty minutes the incident of 22/7, and is aimed at smaller venues and festivals. (Available in 4 languages., (Duration 1:00:00)