Home Entertainment Theatre American Debut for Danish Director Christoffer Berdal

American Debut for Danish Director Christoffer Berdal

Christoffer Berd, director
Christoffer Berd, director
Portrait of director Christoffer Berdal courtesy of Scandinavian American Theater Company.

Christoffer Berdal, one of Denmark’s most sought-after directors, is making his American debut with “Home Sweet Home,” a psychological drama by Andreas Garfield, which will be presented by Scandinavian American Theater Company (www.satcnyc.org) from November 11 to 28 at the 9th Space at PS122, 150 First Ave.

The play deals with the toll on Scandinavian soldiers from peacekeeping and the agony of popular indifference to their sacrifice. It was prominently recognized in Denmark’s equivalent of the Tony Awards in 2007. Scandinavian American Theater Company is an emerging troupe that will be offering New York audiences daring and innovative works from Scandinavia’s burgeoning theater scene.

Christoffer Berdal, born 1967, was awarded the Reumert Awards’ Talent Prize in 1999, the year after he graduated from the Danish National School of Theatre. Working mostly in Denmark, he directes plays in all genres, from classics to musicals to notable new Danish and International dramas. He comes to New York fresh from his critically acclaimed production of the Danish classic “Jeppe of the Hill” by Ludvig Holberg on the main stage at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, the most celebrated stage in Denmark.

This summer, Berdal and his colleague Runi Lewirissa lived and worked in Jordan rehearsing a play in the enormous refugee camp Zarqa, outside of the capital Amman. Believing that theater can prevent radicalization in the Middle East, the two directors are working to bestow their young cast members with a sense of possibility. Their production, “Who Are We,” is based on the participants’ own stories, thoughts and dreams. It will premiere April 21, 2011 in Zarqa. Subsequently, the show will play in Amman and tour refugee camps all across Jordan. The play is a project of C:NTACT, a foundation created under the framework of the Betty Nansen Theater in Copenhagen, which has an international branch with the mission to create identity-nurturing theater projects in areas of conflict around the world.

Berdal has worked at the major theaters all over Denmark as well as internationally. He is a returning director at Groennegaards Teatret, the Danish equivalent of Shakespeare in Park in Copenhagen. Berdal has also taught at the national theatre schools across Denmark, including The National Film School of Denmark and the Aarhus Theatre Playwright School. He is a multiple recipient of the Danish Arts Counsel’s competitive travel and work grants (one of them is to direct this production). His other awards include the prestigious Teaterkatten in 2008 for Director of the Year, Preben Neergaards Honorary Grant in 2008 and Erling Schroeder’s Memorial Grant in 2003.

In the past two seasons, there have been one or two distinguished plays Off-off Broadway reflecting the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. This play reveals the traumatic experience of war and the unsympathetic indifference of home as refracted through a Nordic country. Denmark has been a strong supporter of international peacekeeping and has soldiers currently serving in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Somalia. In the play Kim, a former Sergeant in the Danish army, and his girlfriend Iben, an editor of women’s magazines, are preparing a “welcome home” dinner for Carsten, Kim’s lifelong friend and once his Captain in the army. Cartsten has recently returned from service in Iraq and arrives for dinner handsome and fit. But during the evening, the couple are confronted with a person whose personality has become dark and secretive and whose understanding of life has become radically different from theirs. A pleasant reunion becomes a fatal evening where all three characters’ relationships, values and principles are tested. The play is fictional, but was inspired by a true story.

“Home Sweet Home” (Hjem Kaere Hjem) was a sensation in 2007 when it premiered at Teater Grob in Copenhagen, a well-known venue for experimental theater and new work. Since then, Teater Grob has toured the play around Denmark. The year of its debut, playwright Andreas Garfield won the prestigious Talent Prize in the Reumert Awards, Denmark’s equivalent of the Tony Awards. “Home Sweet Home” was also nominated in the categories of Best Play and Best Leading Actor and won in the category of Best Supporting Actor. This recognition was exceptional since the playwright was a student at the time. He graduated from the playwrighting division of Aarhus Theatre, Denmark, later that year and his plays have since been produced in theaters all over Denmark and Scandinavia.

Home Sweet Home Lisa Pettersson (Sweden) and Albert Bendix (Denmark). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

General Admission is $25, for seniors and students $18. Group sales for parties of ten or more are available for $15. Please call the box office at 212-362-3101 or for online ticketing visit www.satcnyc.org.

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