• Black Box teater
  • Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival
  • 12–16 March 2024
  • OITF’24 / Day #1
A Festival in a Critical Point in Time in the Norwegian Sphere
By Grace Tabea Tenga
This year’s Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival is emerging in a time where artists and their diverse practices are increasingly under pressure from multiple holds, both locally and internationally. In Norway there are many parallel circumstances that seem determined to spell doom over independent performance artists. Last year, theater studies at its last stronghold at the University of Bergen was about to be discontinued as a subject. This sent shockwaves through the Norwegian theatres, directors, actors alike, that the scholarly traditions of theater are rendered superfluous, in the country of Ibsen. Culture journalism in general and art criticism in particular is disappearing from mainstream media and being relegated to the ranks of niche publications that are chronically underfunded. It has been a long time since performance art had a broad appeal in Norway, and this process may further narrow down the performing arts field out of the general public's view. This does not help as online harassment of performing artists’ practices online has provoked people to deem this type of performance art as wasteful government spending.
Will independent artists that challenge norms cease to provoke the status quo, as the threats of ridicule and defunding loom large? Will theatre spaces end up serving the needs of the establishment and the upkeep of middle class interests above highlighting sharp takes on society as a whole? It is a development that garners concern among many arts practitioners.
In 2024, the festival program is more streamlined, with an emphasis on performing arts that in various ways pose a critical lens upon their respective contexts. From the former Danish administered district Faroe Islands in Castle of Joy, a disembodied robot taking the place of the performer in The Companion, the intergenerational processing of trauma in the dance performance FIGURING AGE of the Hungarian Boglárka Börcsök and Andreas Bolm to the class critique of a stratified Britain in TOM by the queer collective BULLYACHE, they all approach their immediate surroundings with larger questions regarding current themes of concern. There is also an entire day dedicated to the epistemologies and discourses of the Indigenous people of Norway, the Sápmi, following the line of last year's festival that was entirely dedicated to the Sápmi ways of living and struggling to fulfill their Indigenous rights under Norwegian rule.
We hope the 2024 edition of Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival at Black Box teater can initiate processes of thoughts and reflections that will hopefully linger on.

Black Box teater has invited dancer and art critic Grace Tabea Tenga to write a series of daily reflections on the festival