With the Stockholm Fringe Festival (STOFF) in full swing, unconventional theatre performances have come out of hiding with the help of STOFF’s non-profit organisation to promote performance theatre and installation-art.
This brief but diverse period of mainstream-challenging performance is Stockholm’s recipe for rescuing budding young artists treading water in a sea of creative possibilities.
Held mostly at Kulturhuset in central Stockholm, STOFF provides a bountiful number of shows to attend, and though tickets are required for some, many are free.
Visitors can even take part in the emerging artistic scene at workshops held between shows.
One such workshop is dubbed a ‘contemporary devised piece’ bordering on the surreal – during which festival goers can meet with the Edinburgh-based group Creative Electric on Saturday at Kulturhuset and see first hand what the description entails.
The STOFF programme also offers such gems as street performances put together by French cultural association Itinéraire Bis, as a showcase portraying the nature of typical stupefied tourists we know so well, while UK-native Hannah Sullivan leads a lecture and discussion on her research project into cross-cultural performance and its potential as a universal language.
Also in the spotlight is playwright Nick Field, born in a tiny village in rural England and currently based in London.
A man of many talents, his work as a short film maker was featured as part of ‘BBC Big Screens’, and leading theatre companies including The Royal Court have commissioned and produced his original plays.
At STOFF, Nick Field is appearing as the Spoken Word enthusiast, and on Friday at Dramalabbet in Södermalm he brings Swedes his one-man show ‘The Cosmos, The Cosmetics.’
Ahead of the show, Field speaks to The Local about his portrayal of finding one’s place in the world, the use of lipstick, and how Stockholm residents are in fact secretly Brits.
The Local: What is your show about?
Nick Field: The show is a journey of discovery through underground culture of the UK.
In my youth I probably went through every phase possible: Goth, hippie, techno-cyber-raver and such, so it’s the tragic-comic story of that search for a place to belong, and also an exploration of identity, and how the memories of experiences we carry shape us.
It’s a very intimate solo performance that is part story-telling, part physical theatre, and involves slapping on a lot of make-up during the show.
TL: Why have you chosen to perform in Stockholm?
NF: I came to Stockholm last year to perform some short pieces and give writing workshops and I really fell in love with the city.
It’s such a beautiful and interesting place, and I really enjoyed performing and working with people here, so I was looking for an excuse to come back.
The festival also looked like a really exciting opportunity, and so I was thrilled when my show was selected.
TL: How does performing abroad compare to performing at home?
NF: There’s always the concern that people might not understand the references, or the humour might be different if performing abroad, but in Stockholm it seems everyone has amazing English and a real grasp of the British sense of humour and cultural references.
TL: What is the extent of your involvement in the Fringe Festival and how has your STOFF experience been so far?
NF: I performed an extract of the piece at the launch party that was really fun, there were a lot of performers giving a taste of their work and it was very exciting to see such a range of performances from so many different countries.
I watched some full performances on the Kulturhuset roof as well and there’s such diversity in the work, from the shocking to the very funny.
I think it’s the coolest arts festival I’ve been to, it’s been brilliantly put together and it’s a very exciting addition to the Stockholm culture scene.
TL: Why should people come see your show?
NF: I think everyone can see something of themselves in the journey I’ve created, that sense of trying to work out who you are and being drawn to different subcultures is a familiar and relatable experience that people have responded to massively when I’ve played it in the UK.
There’s also a lot of humour in the piece and the performance is very much about a connection between the audience and myself, with a rich strand of poetry running through it.