“Of course there will be opera,” Agatha P., the drag queen alter-ego of dancer Ásgeir Helgi Magnússon, declares. “We are using all the different forms of telling a story—ballet, contemporary dance, a musical within the show, and fierce drag dance.”
As the newly minted collective Institute of Recycled Expectations, dream-team Agatha P., Faye Knús (Cameron Corbett), Gógó Starr (Sigurður H. Starr Guðjónsson), and Sigga Eyrún (Sigríður Eyrún Friðriksdóttir) are set to premiere ‘Memoirs of a Valkyrie’ this month at Tjarnarbíó. 800 years after she first graced the literary pages of Icelandic sagas, the Institute will reanimate Brynhildr’s tale as a stage show to cast light on her untold stories.
A shieldmaiden and the rumoured daughter of Óðinn, Brynhildr was a heroine and a villain, who was jilted in love and eventually took her own life. She was first documented around 1220 in Snorri Sturluson’s ‘Prose Edda.’ “We noticed that all these sagas were predominantly written by men,” Agatha P. comments. “We decided that Brynhildr needed to write her own memoirs, or we would do it for her.”
Fuck the patriarchy away
The collective came up with the idea for ‘Memoirs of a Valkyrie’ last year, and have been working on the stage production for the past two months. “We were searching for a big, strong female hero or character,” shares Agatha P. “Brynhildr is widely known in tales throughout northern Europe. There was an actual Brunhilde as the queen of Australasia. We decided to look into her different stories. Our focus point is her memoirs; she is setting the record straight. She’s going to write her own story now.”
Agatha P. reflects on the necessity of bringing Bryndhildr’s story to life through decadence, drag, and dance. “Especially now, we have more enlightenment in terms of gender equality and sexuality. We are questioning things now, so why not look way back at the sagas and at how this cultural heritage was written? Bryndhildr is one of the heroes or villains of the story, but she drops out for 60 pages. Even in her story, the focus is on the men around her.”
And no memoir would be complete without some spilled tea. On Queen B’s fuck-the-patriarchy naptivism, Agatha P. shares, “There’s even a hint that Brynhildr was the original Sleeping Beauty, who slept for 20 years after Óðinn punished her for disobeying his orders.”
Agatha P. gushes over her co-stars in ‘Memoirs of a Valkyrie.’ “Gógó Starr is becoming a household name in Iceland; she’s been the fjallkona (the Lady of the Mountain), representing virtue and finesse. Faye Knús on the other hand—she’s the one with the dirty mouth, one of the wittiest people I know. Sigga Eyrún is an art goddess who is well-known in musical theatre as an actress; she will get a drag name in the performance.”
As for herself, Agatha P. says her fellow queens would describe her as, “a little too hypersexual in a Marilyn Monroe way, and incredibly ADHD—a little butterfly.”
Squeeze and release
This is the Institute of Recycled Expectations’ first stage piece. They intend to produce more stage work as well as venture into other artistic disciplines. But for their first show, they’ve chosen to shine the light on the serious matters of cultural heritage.
“Even though we’re taking something serious or classical like the sagas,” says Agatha P., “we still hold onto the possibility through artistic freedom of releasing ourselves from expectations. As Faye Knús put it, ‘Free ourselves from the burden of intelligence.’”
“You don’t have to be smart all the time,” Agatha P. concludes. “But it’s good to know where you’re coming from and where you’re going.”
You can see ‘Memoirs of a Valkyrie’ on October 19th, November 8th and 16th at 20:30 in Tjarnarbíó. The performance will be in English. Tickets are 4,400 ISK. Check out the Facebook event here.
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