Daria Glenter | Norway
Meet our New Nordic Voices playwrights
PLAYWRIGHTS IN FOCUS:
”Forming new connections with playwrights from other Nordic countries and English theatre professionals is precious. It is great validation; a glimmer of light and hope in these lockdown times. To feel that your words and story are interesting enough to be translated into another language … What a gift.”
New Nordic Voices is a new translation programme for emerging Nordic playwrights. The scheme aims to enable Nordic talent to find an audience overseas, gaining further recognition through the translation of their text. The selected texts from the participating countries, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland form part of a showcase 29 March – 2 April 2021, hoping to give the contemporary Nordic voices a platform.
As a part of our article series, we want to shift the focus to our amazing playwrights.
Get to know them better through these interviews, and what theatre is like in their country, before the showcase of the first ever translation of their play. This time we visit Norway, as we zoom in on Norwegian playwright Daria Glenter and her play ‘Ring Ring Ring’.
How did you get into writing, and what’s your journey been to where you are now?
During my early childhood in Russia, I grew up an only child in a home full of books. I was curious and read up on different topics, and noticed that writing, to me, was enjoyable. During my teenage years, in Norway, books and films were an escape for me, and constituted a big part of the world I lived in. The interest in writing grew, and though there were some dry periods, I enjoyed writing stories and making up characters. At 19 I got the opportunity to join a development programme for young playwrights at the regional theatre in the city of Trondheim. That was the place where I truly tapped into the raw nature of my writing.
At 20, RING RING RING was the first full-length play I completed after joining the playwrights’ development programme. Since then, I have studied comparative literature and theatre at NTNU Trondheim, and creative writing in Sweden. Right now I work as a playwright in residence at Teater Innlandet through a development programme for young artists, which is a great gift. The theme of the play I am currently writing is bulimia nervosa.
How would you describe yourself as a writer?
I find it easier to retell what others have said about me as a writer, than to describe myself by my own virtue only. My writing has been described as poetic on several occasions; I like the description and agree with it. Poetry opens a space where big lines can be drawn in few words, and with great nuance. That I love.
The themes I write about tend to be dark and uncomfortable. I wish to penetrate the dark, because, as cliché as it sounds, you do only know light consciously to the degree you have a conscious relationship with the darkness.
Tell us about your play and your starting point for writing it.
This one play, RING RING RING, originated from a sweet mix of frustrations. Frustrations regarding the materialistic aspect of Christmas, the religious aspect of Christmas, the excruciating familial situations people experience around Christmas time, with a great bullion of a 20-year-old Daria’s depressive worldview to marinate the frustrations in. I lived in Russia until my 11th year; there, our big celebration night is the New Year’s Eve, that is when the big parties and the exchanges of gifts happen. Christmas in my childhood was a religious holiday in January that my family did not particularly participate in. When we made our move to Norway and started celebrating Christmas every year, it felt more like a theatrical event than a holiday. The unanswered questions and frustrations about Western Christmas celebration built up, and in a dance with forces I dare not start to describe, RING RING RING was written forth in a coffee and music-induced frenzy.
How would you describe theatre in Norway, what are the main styles and themes?
My ability to speak on this matter is limited, as I am quite new to the industry. The type of theatre I would say I have seen the least of in Norway, are realistic kitchen dramas.
I do hear that the Scandinavian theatre is moody and poetic.
In the last years there has been an increase in the number of theatre adaptions of books (literature) on Norwegian stages.
How do you feel about your work coming to the UK?
Being a part of this program is such an honor! I am grateful for the opportunity Cut the Cord grants to us to professionally translate our work into English and introduce it to the English theatre scene. Forming new connections with playwrights from other Nordic countries and English theatre professionals is precious. It is a great validation; a glimmer of light and hope in these lockdown times.
And it is also super cool, to feel that your words and story are interesting enough to be translated into another language … What a gift. It is difficult to process that this is happening to me. And working with such passionate, skillful people who really want to try and make this work during the corona times… Creds to you! And that such people wish to collaborate with me, on my work. Wow! And my play, written in the 3rd biggest city of Norway is going to London - It is my English debut!! My debut outside of Norway, at all! Who knows what this will lead to. Hopefully something great – which it already is.
How has your translator supported you throughout this process?
My translator, Charlotte Barslund, has been lovely. Her attentiveness to the ambiguity of the poetic language in the play warms my heart. She keeps me up to date with the progress of the translation and has sent me several drafts of the play in English so I could “ok” them. She makes herself available to me if I have questions – I feel like I can reach out and get an answer quickly. It is a pleasure to work with her!
What do you think Nordic plays can bring to theatres and audiences around the world?
This one is difficult for me to answer, as I have little experience with theatre outside Norway! Purely in terms of how our production periods are structured, it seems to me that a career in Norwegian theatre is more compatible with a family life, compared to the traditions I have been introduced to in e.g. the UK. Theatre is a place where we can practice empathy for people who are different than us, through watching their stories play out on a stage. Theatre and drama can promote psychological healing, and it is good if in the process of healing others, we do not injure someone else; the children of theatre professionals who need time with their parents, or our partners and loved ones who do not get the support they need because our working hours are so long, and the work is so intense that our resources are dry when we return home after a day at the production site.
This is, though, a field I know little about, and it would for sure be beneficial to learn more.
Daria Glenter is a Norwegian-Russian playwright, currently employed as a playwright-in-residence at Teater Innlandet, Norway, through a national talent programme. She has studied comparative literature and theatre studies at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, as well as creative writing at Biskops Arnö Författaskola in Sweden. Glenter was the Norwegian representative at Interplay Europe 2016. RING RING RING is her first full-length play, debuting at the Norwegian Playwriting Festival (Norsk Dramatikkfestival) in 2019, to great reviews; Norsk Shakspearetidsskrift called the play “the best text of the festival”. The fields that inspire Glenter are philosophy, religion, psychology and nature.
Ring Ring Ring
written by Daria Glenter, translated by Charlotte Barslund
It is dark, cold and lonely. Whom should we pray to - The shining lights, the kitschy gifts, the snowfall or the sellers? It is Christmas, it is time for redemption, it is time for forgiveness, it is time to come together and share the warmth. Carry on the traditions. For the good of us all. Or so we think. Loneliness meets religious doubt, meets sexual frustrations, familial trouble, a capitalised holiday and a total absence of contact with one’s emotions. A disoriented longing for warmth, and a panicked flight when that warmth is found. RING RING RING is a play that attempts to ask questions, to answer them and to find a foothold in a world in dissolution.