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Review Fri Mar 22 2013

Gjenganger: A Nordic Presence in Chicago Theater

Akvavit Theatre_Winter1.jpg

Gjenganger--a word I can't pronounce, no matter how hard I try; a word that is an adaptation of another difficult word: Gengangare--most often translated as "ghosts", but more exactly meaning "those who walk again." Gjenganger is a word that is the title of three unique plays by Jon Fosse, each of which is familiar to the other in the way that it seems they are different repetitions, again, walkers of each other, hence the title.

The plays are brought to the Chicago theater scene by Akvavit Theater Company, whose mission is to produce contemporary Nordic plays to encourage a discussion about how the culture is perceived and how it exists on a more global scale. Akvavit Theater's production of Gjenganger, composed respectively of William Bullion's A Summer's Day , Breahan Eve Pautsch's Autumn Dream, and Paul S. Holmquist's Winter, gives Chicago theatergoers a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to experience a type of theater quite different from anything else in the city.

On the surface, the three plays are hard to swallow. The majority of the action is composed of dialogue, of which much of the language is quite repetitive, and the acting takes place in a single, elongated one-act on a simple one or two-piece set. Yet, digging into Fosse's themes and way of writing helps to illuminate the cryptic performances.

Scholars stress that Fosse relies heavily on language as a means to develop the relationship human beings have with reality. This repetitive style is meant to describe more closely things that cannot be described by words. It's a bit of a puzzle for the mind to handle. Fosse also relies on the opposite of language, silence, to emphasize the space that grows in human relationships and the temporality of humanity as a whole.

These plays are not easy to see; they require the mind to work to understand them. There is a reason the world loves the writing of Jon Fosse and the feeling of mysticism it evokes from its audiences--to understand this is worth the effort.

Gjenganger plays through March 24 at DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St.; Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30pm, Sunday, 3pm. Tickets are $15-$22 and are available online or by calling 800-595-4849.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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