Scandinavian American Theater Company in ‘Home Sweet Home’

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

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 is 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 playwriting division of Aarhus Theatre, Denmark, later that year and his plays have since been produced in theaters all over Denmark and Scandinavia.

This is the English language debut for “Home Sweet Home” and its first American production. The translation is by actress Lisa Pettersson in collaboration with the company of SATC. The part of Carsten will be performed by Albert Bendix (Denmark). Iben will be played by Lisa Pettersson (Sweden-USA). The part of Kim will be played by an American actor, Brian Smolin.

Director Christoffer Berdal, one of Denmark’s most soughtafter directors.

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.

Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC), the first-ever Scandinavian-American theater company in New York, was founded in 2009 by a group of New York-based Scandinavian theater professionals wishing to introduce the new generation of Scandinavian playwrights to an American audience. In the last twenty years, contemporary Scandinavian plays have successfully broken through generational barriers to open the world of theater to a new and younger audience. This new wave of theater reflects the new Scandinavian society both stylistically and dramatically. SATC’s mission is to present high-quality, cutting-edge productions of contemporary Scandinavian plays as well as fresh interpretations of Scandinavian classics. Being a multilingual company, it plans to also make a unique contribution to the NY cultural scene by acting Scandinavian plays in their original languages as well as English, sometimes in repertory with alternating languages.

The troupe is managed by an Artistic Board of seven members, all theater professionals living in New York, representing the fields of acting, directing, choreography, film and theater management. They are Albert Bendix (Denmark), Anette Norgaard (Denmark), Henning Hegland (Norway), Elin Eggertsdottir (Iceland), Sebastian Nyman Agdur (Sweden), Vigdis Hentze Olsen (Faroe Islands) and Lisa Pettersson (Sweden, USA). Their backgrounds are detailed on the company’s website, “As Scandinavians, we have a lot to share, and it extends beyond our common regional roots. It’s about the tradition and the culture we hail from,” said Pettersson to an interviewer from the Danish newspaper Politiken.

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SCANDINAVIA ON STAGE- Danish dramaturg Jesper Bergmann (L) and Danish playwright Line Knutzon (R) at Scandinavia On Stage conference in NY, 2001. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff.)

There has been a dream for a NY-based Scandinavian-American theater troupe ever since “Scandinavia On Stage” in April 2001, when American theater professionals met with Scandinavian playwrights during a two-day conference and showcase of theater from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Held at the (then newly-built) Scandinavia House, the conference examined trends in contemporary Scandinavian drama, bringing American theater professionals face to face with playwrights and artistic directors from such institutions as the Norwegian National Theater, the Royal Theater in Copenhagen and the City Theaters of Reykjavik and Stockholm. The conference was the brainchild of Irene Krarup, then Vice Consul of the Culture and Information Department at the Royal Danish Consulate in NYC, who organized it as a joint project of all the Scandinavian consulates in New York. To read in-depth journalistic coverage of the conference, please visit

Future mainstage productions of SATC will include a Finnish play (TBA) directed by Sebastian Agdur (Spring 2011) and “Pinocchio’s Ashes” by Jokum Rohde (Denmark), directed by Henning Hegland (Fall 2011).

SATC also presents a Contemporary Reading Series, offering five plays annually, all free to the public. The series is co-presented by Scandinavia House, the Consulate General of Denmark in New York and the Swedish Consulate General in New York. The season’s first reading will be “For Sheer Love Of Me” by Anna Krogerus (Finland), directed by Kathleen Amshoff, on October 18. The play is winner of the 2006 Finnish Critics Association Award. Subsequent readings this season will be held December 6, January 31 and May 23. All will take place at 7:30 PM in Scandinavia House, Park Avenue between 37th and 38th Street, where the company presented its debut production, an adaptation of Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” by Craig Lucas, last June.

Performances are November 11 to 28, 2010 at the 9th Space at PS122, 150 First Ave. at E. 9th St. The website of Scandinavian American Theater Company is Previews are November 11 and 12; the show opens November 13 and runs through November 28 on the following dates: First Week: 11/11-14; Second Week: 11/15, 11/18-21; Third Week: 11/22-23, 11/26-28. Performances are Mondays through Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 4:30 and 7:30, Sundays at 4:30. A performance has been added for Fri., Nov. 19 at 10:00 PM. There is no 4:30 performance on 11/13 (opening night). Online ticketing is available at Tickets are $25 general admission and $18 for seniors and students. The box office number is 212-362-3101. Group sales for groups of ten to twenty are $15/ticket.