Alaska is based on texts by Danielle Sarréra (1932-1949). After Sarréra took her own life, three notebooks containing four short prose pieces were found in her apartment at Monmartre. These texts, written with fervour that suggests autobiographical content, deal with incest and death.
“The Cranium Drill Knight – this is the Christ that lives in me, and drills his way through my cranium day by day, like a needle”
Review of Alaska by Jon Refsdal Moe – Morgenbladet:
Painful, but beautiful.
Lars Øyno and the Theatre of Cruelty with a great performance at Black Box.
It is pleasure that the Black Box Theatre has chosen “Alaska”, a performance by Lars Øyno as the opening “Performance of the month” – series for 2001. This theatre artist has throughout the years worked contrary to the directions stipulated by what we could call ”good taste”, and his Theatre of Cruelty has several times filled stages in abandoned factories, merely to be ignored by a united ”cultural elite”.
Even though Oslo is a small city, the distance theatrically between Borgen in the old city area, where Øyno’s last performance was staged, (based on the text by Conte de Lautreamont), and Aker Brygge is large. We therefore hope the Theatre of Cruelty will be staged in the more institutionalised environments, and that this small step into the warmth of the establishment will provide Lars Øyno’s visionary – and totally unique theatre aesthetics – with the attention and audience it deserves.
The source of the performance is however far from pleasant. Behind the innocent title lies the tragic story of a 17 year old suicidal with disturbed sexuality. When the 17 year old Daniella Sarrera committed suicide in 1949 she left behind four short essays with the title ”Le Chevalier de Trepan” and ”Alaska” is based on these texts.
”Le Chevalier de Trepan” is an extremely painful, but beautiful confession, and even though we recall that not even Lautreamont came to be 20, we forgive Øyno for his fascination of the early dead. This director is sober in dealing with these essays and the performance is never near being speculative.
As always when Lars Øyno is involved, and as the name of the group reveals, it is the surrealist Antonin Artaud’s theatre manifestos that have inspired their theatrical expression.
But Alaska is miles away from the raw confrontational aesthetics that Artaud’s so often is linked up to, and which has been seen in Øyno’s earlier performances. Rather than to seek the sixties avant-garde violent expression, Øyno has here been inspired by Artaud’s idea of theatre as an incarnation of poetry. In Alaskas white, naked and static pictures, with Hanne Dieserud’s minimalistic controlled acting, Øyno resembles most of all the director Robert Wilson, whose dwelling and strong visual tableaux has made him a post-modern guru über alles. We talk of course about of Robert Wilson with funding from the Norwegian Cultural Council, without gigantic staging, and without old rock stars such as Lou Reed and Tom Waits to compose the music.
A good alternative is the trio “When” who works in a nice crossing point between ambient techno and organic noise. The bands permanent presence on stage accentuates the staging being more of an installation than an illusion, to the point where fiction in a long sequence totally dissolves and becomes a concert, while the rest of the stage is blackened out.
Alaska is actually a very strange performance, and Lars Øyno is a very strange director. If you have more then an average interest of theatre, you should go and see it. Strange performances are a rarity in Norway these days. And strange theatre is often very nice.