REYKJAVÍK ENSEMBLE International Theatre Company is founded and artistically directed by Pálína Jónsdóttir, theatre and opera director, together with her collaborator Ewa Marcinek, project manager and writer. Together with a group of international artists they plan to build a new entity within the Icelandic theatre scene—a theatre platform enabling artistic participation of professional artists of all languages and backgrounds, who are marginalized in the cultural sector and hence absent from the current Icelandic theatre scene / reality.
“Shortly after my homecoming from New York, where I lived, studied and worked with international theatre artists, I realized that the town of Reykjavík was full of foreign born artists. Finally, I thought to myself, Iceland is becoming a multinational and multicultural society. However, these talents were invisible from the theatrical scene,” said Pálína Jónsdóttir.
Pálína Jónsdóttir is a theatre and opera director. A graduate of the Columbia University MFA Theatre Directing program (2017), Pálína was awarded a Student Fellowship in Directing for her outstanding directorial achievement. Pálína directed the box office hit Ég heiti Guðrún by Rikke Wölch at the National Theatre, Trouble in Tahiti by Leonard Bernstein, Darkside by Tom Stoppard and Pink Floyd. She assistant directed The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner for Opera San Jose and Mata Hari, opera theatre for Prototype Festival in NYC. Her thesis production Babette’s Feast, ran at The Connelly Theater in NYC. She served as directing candidate with Robert Lepage for L’ Amour de Loin at The Metropolitan Opera. Her production Völva at the National Theatre earned a Gríma, Icelandic Performing Arts Award. Pálína began her career in the performing arts as a dancer and actor and has performed numerous roles both on stage and in films.
“The concept of establishing international theatre had been an old dream of mine. At the point of being back and feeling a bit like an immigrant myself, without a solid theatre community, it became an inescapable necessity to venture into creating Reykjavik Ensemble and embrace the human wealth, found in these foreign born artists and Icelandic artists that have no or minute standing within the official theatre establishments.”
Inspired by Kantor
Last summer Pálína gathered a group of Polish artists living in Iceland, whom she invited to collaborate on her new piece inspired by the work of Polish theatre master Tadeusz Kantor. In 2020 there will be thirty years since Kantor’s death and his visit to Iceland at the Reykjavik Arts Festival in 1990. His work inspired Pálína and shaped her vision of theatre work.
“Kantor’s work opened up a new portal for my passion and understanding of theatre. His theatre ignited a fire in my belly that still burns now almost thirty years after the experience of seeing I Shall Never Return that played at the Reykjavík Arts Festival. That’s how powerful theatre can be. Polish theatre artists are, it seems, inherently gifted and Iceland is blessed that they want to live and work here. My heart raced with the thought that I could possibly find Polish artists and inspire them to work with me on building a theatre performance, honoring the legacy of Kantor. I found them one by one and they embraced the idea and so did Vigdís Jakobsdóttir, the artistic director of Reykjavík Arts Festival, who has programmed, Ég kem alltaf aftur, for her upcoming 2020 festival, where the piece will be showcased as work in progress.”
Within the group of Polish artists was Ewa Marcinek, an emerging writer with a long experience of managing cultural projects. Ewa is one of the founding members of Ós Pressan, a multilingual writing collective, a poet at bilingual cabaret Poetry Brothel and author collaborating with Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature.
The Ensemble Is Born
Pálína shared with Ewa her idea of starting an international theatre company and the couple hit it off immediately.
“We applied to the art residency program at IÐNÓ. We got an access to the office and event space. IÐNÓ gave us a home and a base to start. The next step was to apply for all the local grants and map the opportunities at home and abroad,” said Ewa.
Through the past months Pálína and Ewa have been meeting artists, activists and local cultural institutions interested in making the project happen. They’ve applied for support at Icelandic and foreign funds.
“We wait with great anticipation for the conclusions from the art and culture funds that we have appealed to and we welcome individual sponsors and supporters,” said Ewa.
The next important step in creating an international theatre was meeting the crowd, the professional artist living in Iceland that would like to join forces with Reykjavík Ensemble. In the autumn Pálína and Ewa hosted three panel meetings and organized two open auditions for actors and performers in IÐNÓ and Tjarnarbíó.
“Until now we have connected with over sixty professionals eager to work with us and there are more artists that we would like to meet and invite to collaborate with Reykjavik Ensemble - Said Pálína. - We plan to cluster and nurture the international community of professional theatre artists living in Reykjavik. We want to give them a real opportunity to collaborate with creating jobs for them according to their education and work experience and support their artistic growth”.
For more information, please contact:
International Theatre Company
International Theatre Company