Interview with actor and producer Tryggvi Gunnarsson

31. Jan 2013

Tryggvi The theatre play, Punch written by an international group called Sticks&Stones is premiering in Akureyri Theater on the 22nd of February. PAI contacted its Icelandic member Tryggvi Gunnarsson, actor and producer, and asked him a few questions about Sticks&Stones new piece.

Tell us more about Punch, its inspiration and ideology?

Punch is built on the medieval tale of Punch and Judy. Originally a very violent puppet play, popular in Britain and on mainland Europe, the story line can simply be described as that of a man who uses a stick to kill everyone he encounters. In fact this play is where the phrase “slap-stick” originates from. We use this story as a base for a devised performance on staged violence as entertainment. We search for new ways to portray the violence, explore the nature of it, and try to deconstruct the traditional ways of looking at it, only to reconstruct it to our liking. Meanwhile the question: “Why do we love both watching violence as well as performing it?” is looming over us.

What is Sticks&Stones and how did this international group coalesce?

Sticks & Stones is a young company and this is our first full scale production. Nevertheless we are quite familiar with each other, since we all went through the Norwegian Theatre Academy. In a sense the group in its current format is a part of a larger consortium of young contemporary theatre makers. The core of this consortium are former students of the Academy and various artists from different traditions and disciplines, and we freely make and re-make new groups and relationships, based on interest and availability.

Since Sticks&Stones is an international group, how did you end up premiering this piece in Iceland?

There are two reasons why Punch is produced in Iceland. First, we are funded by the Norwegian Culture Fund and each Norwegian crown gets us much further in Iceland. Everyone was also enthusiastic about an Icelandic adventure, so that helped. The second reason for being here is Ragnheiður Skúladóttir and Leikfélag Akureyrar (LA). They jumped at the opportunity to host us and the reception has been truly exceptional. There is something special happening in LA, not only in a local sense, but also for the whole Icelandic theatre scene. We are just truly grateful for being part of the revival that's taking place there and hope our contribution will matter.

What is next for Sticks&Stones? Are you going on tour?

Once we are done here in Akureyri we go south to Reyjavík and show the piece in Norðurpóllinn Theatre. Later on, in June to be specific, we travel to Stavanger and have a Norway premiere at Tou Senen. There are plans to show Punch next winter in Denmark and Germany, but since there are no signatures on the papers yet we keep the details to ourselves for now.

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