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Muohtadivggažat / The Sound of Snow

Multilingual performance based on incredible but true stories from the borderland between Norway, Finland, and Russia.

The space the show takes place in is inspired by a legendary bar in Boris Gleb in the summer of 1965. For a few months, the border was opened and Norwegians and Finns came in droves to party.

The text is written by poet and playwright Rawdna Carita Eira, with the contribution of director Kristin Bjørn. It is a web of incredible but true stories, from the borderland between Norway, Finland and Russia. There are stories of escape and homeland and the world’s deepest man-made holes. The stage language varies between Norwegian, Sami, Russian, Finnish and English, based on the mother tongue of the actors.

The performance will be the first result of Ferske Scener’s project on multilingualism. In a series of performances and seminars,  we used “the sound of the Northern Calotte” as our stage language. Dating back to the 11th century, different groups of people with different languages ​​have lived close to each other in the region. It is said that the border area between Norway, Finland and Russia is one of the places in the world with the greatest difference in languages. “The North” was handled as a colony until the late 1900s. In some areas, the hardest Norwegianization / colonization period happened as late as the 1960s and 1970s. In most areas, monocultural expressions are still favoured. Many feel that the colonization never ended.

English is the new hegemonic language. The result is often clichéd English – a “Globish” that removes the nuances and humour of the conversations. The Globish is a language that makes us seem homogeneous, while in reality, it extends the inequalities, everyday languages ​​and mother tongue, to each of its isolated spaces.

The Story

The year is 2015. The young woman Anna is not far from Zapoljarnyj near the border with Norway with a well-used men’s bicycle from 1939. In this homeland, the borders have changed, and people have always been on the move. Anna seizes the opportunities she sees. At the same time, her family’s story is told from the end of the 19th century. One branch of her family comes from Nuottjávr (Notozero) on the Russian side and Suennjel on the Finnish side, another from Varanger on the Norwegian side. Anna has a Sami background, without it being more important to her than any other experience she has. She is first and foremost a survivor, one who sees opportunities. She is not a “good” person. She is a human being.

Anna’s bicycle and her grandfather, the jokester and survivor Sasha, take the audience in and out of events such as the displacement of the school community, Crown Princess Märtha’s escape to the United States in 1940, Alexander Rybak’s Eurovision Song Contest win in 2009 – and the meeting with the flood of refugees over Storskog in 2015, represented by the Syrian refugee girl Haya and her father.

 

About the author

Rawdna Carita Eira (1970) is a poet, librettist and playwright, and was nominated for the Nordic Council´s Literature Prize in 2012. In 2019 she premiered at the opera Two Odysseys: Gállábártnit in Canada. The show is nominated for the Canadien Dora Award in 2020. Eira has a background in Sami / Norwegian / Forestfinnish with a father from Finnskogen (Solør) and a mother from a reindeer herding family in Guovdageaidnu. Eira has lived all her life in the space between Sami and Norwegian culture. Her family operated reindeer herding in southern Helgeland until 2002. Today Eira works as a playwright/inspector and with subtitles/translations at the Sami National Theater Beaivváš. She is currently fluent in Northern Sami and understands/writes partly also in South Sami and Lule Sami. Through her work, she is probably the one in Norway with the most experience in texting / translating performances between Sami / Norwegian (as well as subtitling in Finnish).