Jon Fosse The Nobel Prize
Original title: Teaterstykke 1
Publisher: Samlaget, 1999
Pages: 747 pages
The entirety of Jon Fosse prolific career as a playwright has been collected by his Norwegian publisher Samlaget in five volumes, Plays 1-5. Plays 1 is an excellent introduction to Jon Fosse’s unique linguistic style. He writing is at once poetic and naturalistic, emphasising the love and pain of ordinary people seeking to live their lives.
Someone is Going to Come (written in 1992)
And We’ll Never Be Parted (written in 1993)
The Name (written in 1994)
The Child (written in 1995)
Mother and Child (written in 1996)
The Son (written in 1996)
Nightsongs (written in 1997)
In Someone is Going to Come the two of them want to be together, just the two of them, so they leave the city and buy a remote house by the sea. But is it possible to do what they want to do? In their desire to be alone together they flee the world of people but are pursued by the anxiety that someone is going to come. Someone is Going to Come is Fosse’s first play. Written in 1996, the world premiere at The Norwegian Theatre (April 1996) signifed a new era in contemporary theatre.
In And We’ll Never Be Parted, Jon Fosse exploits theatre’s unique potential for ambiguity: as a woman anxiously waits for her husband, are we watching reality, fantasy, memory, or even a ghost story? It opens with a woman who laughs and laughs before she launches into a monologue determined to bring about change.
The Name (winner of the Ibsen Prize in Norway) tells the story of an estranged family forced to live under one roof. A pregnant girl and the father of the child have nowhere to live and are forced to move into her parents’ house. Her parents have met the father-to-be, and don’t yet know about the pregnancy. The Name is a play about the difficulties we have understanding one another and the longing the be cared for by a significant other. By placing seemingly simple characters in critical moments, Fosse’s communicates the common, yet crucial aspects about the modern human condition.
In The Child a man and a woman find each other in a bus stop on a rainy night. They hold each other close. They rent an old house out of town. The woman becomes pregnant. But the child is too small to survive. At the end, their lives have gone full circle:once more there is just the two of them.
Mother and Child is the intense journey of two individuals trying to connect. Like strangers on a first date, mother and son stalk each other, confronted with a shared history they cannot ignore. The characters are two people who are related to each other but have nothing in common. The mother is floundering in the tribulations of memory, the child is wondering whether it would have been better not to be born.
The Son concerns an ageing and isolated couple, who sit and look out of the window and discuss the lack of activity. Th their great surprise, they see their long-absent son arriving with their meddlesome neighbour. The tension between mother, father and son is interrupted by the neighbour’s unwelcome interference.
In Nightsongs we meet a young couple and heir new-born child. He writes words that no one will publish, becoming more and more isolated from each refusal. She finds the life they lead unbearable. One night she goes out and returns with a new friend. The Royal Court production of Nightsongs was reviewed as " Waiting for Godot without the gags"
I don’t know what it is
that always makes something happen
But it must be something
Because something always happens
I don’t want anything to happen
and then something
happens all the same
(Extract from Nightsongs, Translated by Gregory Motton)
Rights for plays performed at theatres worldwide, contact Berit Gullberg in Colombine Teaterförlag, Sweden.
For plays published abroad, contact Winje Agency