From Iceland — Guerilla Theatre of the Absurd

Guerilla Theatre of the Absurd

Published July 9, 2004

Guerilla Theatre of the Absurd

“So there’s this chef and this hotel reception clerk. And they’re just standing in the middle of Kringlan. One is standing on top of a planter and the other one is on the ground. And their poses look like something out of Romeo and Juliet.” It didn’t stop there. My friend described to me scene after scene of mid-mall dioramas featuring frozen passion between butchers and bakers and candlestick makers.

Once I saw a junior ballroom dancing competition in the middle of Kringlan. The sight of 8-year-olds gyrating to the cha-cha is, yes, unsettling, but these vignettes sounded downright absurd! Indeed, it is this seemingly absurd sense of engagement with the public that marks this young group of performers. Götuleikhús (Street Theater) is a group of 15 young people (from 16 to 25) selected from numerous applications to work as a troop of street actors, enacting invisible theatre throughout Reykjavík.

Under the direction of Steinunn Knútsdóttir and Oddvar Hjartarson, the group is first put though a training period including rigorous physical conditioning, exercises to hone their minds, and a number of brainstorming sessions to pick a theme. This year’s theme is “love” in all of its various manifestations. Götuleikhús has explored, among other avenues, passion without touching culminating in these live installations at Kringlan.

They have also taken up familial love by assembling a family with parents on stilts, Tokyo punk children, and gargoyles for pets. The group’s next installment will appear this Friday downtown as a series of mobile, private spaces, an entire apartment recreated outdoors for all of Reykjavík to see.

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