Newsletter #June 2020

Together with our members, we have created a state of the nation address. In the industry, we often talk and write messages and manifestos about the importance of performing arts, theater, art, and culture. We wanted to investigate whether it’s possible to write a kind of message which is art in itself. The playwrights Alexandra Loonin and Ebba Petrén have written a fantastic text, which can be listened to and read over and over again. It is both abstract and concrete, and very human. The fact that so many of our members wanted to be involved in recording audio and film on their own gives the film a touching quality and we are so happy for everyone´s efforts and commitment. Doing something together even though we can’t meet live feels special at times like these. See ”State of the relationship” here and please help us spread it!

Global Pride
In this digital period, all Pride Festivals around the world have cancelled live activities. The Swedish Pride organization invited us to submit a contribution from our ITI Proud Performing Arts LGBTQ+ Network to the digital event Global Pride, where films and greetings from all over the world will be broadcast on June 27th. We keep our thumbs that as many of our proposals as possible get selected!

Proud Performing Arts
Regarding our Proud Performing Arts Festival in collaboration with Parkteatern and MDT in Stockholm at the end of July, we are still awaiting a decision. Either we run with a limited audience or try to arrange the performances later this year. Stockholm Pride has postponed their events to November. Digital solutions can also be made to a certain extent, we will get back with more info about this!

As there is great uncertainty about how the pandemic will develop, the Swedish Performing Arts Coalition and ASSITEJ Sweden have decided to suspend Swedstage 2020 in the form we are used to. Current circumstances make it difficult to organize international festivals. Instead, we will arrange a digital showcase program, October 18-20: Swedstage Online. There, we will show the variety of Swedish performing arts through a number of short clips from selected productions, as well as conversations with the creators and others.

A physical Swedstage will be arranged in 2021, more about this after the summer. If you have questions or want to know more, contact us at,

Keep spreading our newly translated plays 
Contemporary Swedish drama runs the gamut from menstrual musicals to urgent depictions of our era, from dystopian futures to a critical view of our economic system, by way of Greek drama that plays out in the psychiatric ward. Each Swedish playwright presented here is different from the next. Each inhabits their own unique position and perspective and allows their divergent life experiences to be reflected in their words. Taken as a whole, these works offer something for every target audience and paint a picture of our society and world.

Here you will find ten voices, translated by Rachel Willson Broyles, that together comprise a palette that can illustrate the current state of Swedish drama. And yet this is merely a fragment of a staggering and many-faceted chorus of voices. We hope that the curiosity sparked by this selection will lead to more Swedish playwrights’ work being read, moving audiences, and being produced all over the world. While the Swedish experience is unique, reading and the performing arts are universal.

New staff at Scensverige
This autumn we welcome Sandra Karlung to Scensverige! During the spring, she did an internship through the cultural science program at Stockholm University, and we are very happy that she stays, as our administrator.

Performing Arts Summer
We wish you a lovely summer and send extra love to the summer productions that will be conducted with a limited audience, we urge everyone to book a ticket for them!

Newsletter #July

Unwinnable –Bethany Black will be performed at Proud Performing Arts in Stockholm.

Thank you for a wonderful, intense and inspiring Performing Arts Biennial! This year’s biennial in Sundsvall and Härnösand presented 22 productions with 60 events and 138 seminars. We are so happy for the positive and constructive feedback and would like to thank all 1500 people from 16 countries who contributed their time, expertise and energy to create this lively meeting place. It is clear that there´s a great need to gather, celebrate and focus on issues and deep talks that concern our industries and our future. We´re deep diving into the evaluations and have already started planning for the next biennial, 2021! Both the selection committee and the next city are soon to be decided, we´ll make sure to let you know!

Proud Performing Arts 
Proud Performing Arts is just finished in Malmö, and was a great success.
Right now we are working with this year’s event at Stockholm Pride from July 30th until August 2nd.  Take a peak at the program here! 
This year we´re cooperating with the Park Theater of Stockholm City Theatre in the beautiful island of Djurgården, as well as the Modern Museum and the Modern Dance Theatre. Many members are involved, the City of Stockholm has contributed and we have also made a staff exchange from Stockholm City Theater – curator and producer Terry Johnson, former producer at Dansstationen in Malmö. We are grateful that the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Institute continue to support our national and international network and we will arrange the 3rd official meeting with the ITI Proud Performing Arts LGBTQ + Workgroup with guests from Algeria, Congo, Turkey, USA, Finland, South Africa and Sweden. Read more about the network here: xxx
We will also welcome several new members to our national network, currently consisting of 9 large organizations and producers all over Sweden.  

International networking
We visited Miami in June at our American sister organization Theater Communication Group´s (TCG) national conference. The themes focused a lot on audience work in local communities, race issues and anti-racism, class issues, feminism, inclusion and strengthening of LGBTQ people, indigenous people and underrepresented groups in society. We presented our international Proud Performing Arts network and welcomed TCG, Peacock Rebellion, Fresh Meat and Theater Offensive to the network.

In Copenhagen, we recently participated in a Nordic future meeting, invited by the Nordic Council of Ministers to be a part of their priorities for the next few years. It was very interesting and we look forward to being further involved in strengthening and evolving Nordic co-operation!

The summer season is up and running and buzzing with performing arts! Both the established summer operas and summer theaters and a lot of new initiatives, both with dance companies, site-specific performance and drama in new places. Do not miss the summer experiences and support your local producer by bringing acquaintances who don´t have the habit of looking up performing arts!

Best regards,

Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director Scensverige – Swedish ITI


Tomorrow, May 25 2018, the new Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is put into force throughout the EU. GDPR replaces the Swedish Personal Data Act (PUL) and will strengthen your privacy in data processing of your personal information so that you can feel safe.

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Best regards,


Newsletter #April and May

At Scensverige – Swedish ITI we declare spring and we’ve got started with things we were waiting for. We have received funding from the Swedish Arts Council for Proud Performing Arts, and are currently planning the program for performing arts and/or seminars at seven festivals – Växjö Pride, Malmö Pride, Stockholm EuroPride, Gothenburg EuroPride, Gävle Pride, Jönköping Qom Ut and Umeå Festival Normal. To EuroPride we have also been commissioned by the Swedish Institute to invite international guests. We have made a global announcement through the International Theater Institute, where we initiated an international workgroup. The group will have its first meeting in Stockholm in August. Please let us know if you or someone you know would like to engage.
The Swedish shows we hope to present come from our member organizations and independent performing arts producers who work actively with LGBT+ perceptive, and the international tracks we currently work with are Georgia, Russia, Spain, Ghana, Finland and the United States.

From the Swedish Institute we have again this year been assigned  together with ASSITEJ to invite international guests to both the Bibu (Biennale for Children and Youngsters) in Helsingborg in May. Be sure to meet these colleagues! Everyday there will be an opportunity to meet the guests informally at “Fika with Bibu”. Over a cup of coffee we talk about the performances of the festival as well as trends and tendencies in the Swedish performing arts. At the time of writing, guests from Latvia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Estonia, Turkey, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Germany, Pakistan, Belgium and Korea have been confirmed. See Bibu’s website for schedule.
Thursday, May 17th, we also arrange at the Bibu seminar “We´ve really come a long way in Sweden with this LGBT thing, haven´t we?”, Where moderator Joakim Rindå from Riksteatern talks with playwright Isabel Cruz Liljegren, actor Simon Rodriguez, artistic leader from Ögonblickteatern Johanna Salander and artistic leader at the Folkteatern Gävleborg Mattias Brunn on performing arts with HBTQ + perspective aimed at children and young people.
That evening, we invite you to a mingle at Tivoli in Helsingborg where we inform about our activities and arrange a competition for the best idea for seminar/panel talk/ workshop for the Swedish Biennale of Performing Arts. The winner will, together with us, arrange their proposed seminar and get a free biennial pass! The competition will also be posted on Facebook.

The selection committees from the Swedish Biennale of Performing Arts and Swedstage are working intensenly in seeing and discussing performances. There is a lot of interesting shows on Swedish stages right now, and it will be exciting to see what festival program we will get.
We visited Sundsvall last week for the start-up meeting with the Scenkonst Västernorrland Mikael Flodström and our future biennial coordinator Mira Helenius, currently dance director of Norrdans. We are now working on creating a steering group and starting the inventory of theater and seminar rooms in Sundsvall and Härnösand. Save the dates 14-19 May 2019! And of course the Swedstage dates 21-24 October 2018.

On April 5th, I and Björn Wiman from Dagens Nyheter interviewed the Swedish Television culture news regarding visa problems for international guests. Hopefully, they will push this to a higher instance. Swedish ITI wrote its first concrete proposal for a solution to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already in 2005. The proposal wanted all authorities and embassies to work towards common guidelines instead of an embassy stopping a guest from a certain country that we received money from the Swedish Institute to invite.

Do not miss our annual meeting on 7th of May in Stockholm! At 13:00 to 14:30, the meeting will be held for our council representatives, and after that we open the doors to all interested, as we will arrange a seminar. More info about location and content will come!

Best regards,

Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director Scensverige – Swedish ITI

Foto Peter Knutson

Newsletter #March

The performing arts spring is in full bloom and for those who want to see everything it’s busy these days. Check out the premieres of the month in Sweden here!

We have two important reminders:

1. Do not wait too long to nominate your performance to the The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2019! The selection committee is working hard to see as much as they can around Sweden, make sure that they make it to your show. The Biennial takes place in Sundsvall and Härnösand in May 2019.

2. The call for productions to Swedstage closes on April 15! A large number of foreign bookers and guests come to Stockholm from 21-24 October to see an intense program of Swedish productions for children, young people and adults. Read more about it here.
The Proud Performing Arts program at various Pride Festivals is underway. Through our wide national network and partners, this year we will be able to offer performing arts, seminars och talks with lgbt + perspectives at Pride in Växjö, Malmö, Gävle and Jönköping, as well as EuroPride in Stockholm and Gothenburg! We will also invite a number of international guests with funding from the Swedish Institute.

World Theater Day is celebrated on March 27 worldwide. Every year a message is written by a selected artist, the first being Jean Cocteau in 1962. Since the initiator, our main organization ITI (International Theater Institute), celebrates 80 years this year, it is celebrated with five messages from all continents (defined by UNESCO). Those who wrote this year’s world theater message are Ram Gopal Bajaj (India), Maya Zbib (Lebanon), Simon McBurney (United Kingdom), Sabina Berman (Mexico) and Wêrê Wèrê Liking (Ivory Coast).

Here you can read the messages, translated into 50 different languages. 
The Swedish translations will be posted shortly! If you are in Paris on World Theater Day, there will be a big celebration in the UNESCO building.

Scensveriges annual meeting will take place in Stockholm on the 7th of May, 13-16.30. At the meeting, all the council members who represent our members gather. Among other things, it will be an exciting filling choice on the chairman’s post, and a presentation of our future plans. Just as after the November meeting, we will open the doors for everyone after the first hour. What happens at 14-16.30 is being planned, we will return with location and seminar content!

In May, we will arrange a seminar at Bibu with the heading “Haven´t we come a long way in Sweden with this lgbt-thing?”, where a panel of Isabel Cruz Liljegren, Simon Rodriguez, Johanna Salander and Mattias Brunn will talk about the work of performing arts directed at children and young people, moderated by Joakim Rindå. We will also invite you to a mingle where we repeat the popular concept “Propose a seminar to The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts and win a free biennial pass”. This year we have again, together with Assitej, been commissioned by the Swedish Institute to invite international guests, come and see them!

Best regards,
Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director Scensverige – Swedish ITI

Foto Peter Knutson

Newsletter #May

It’s finally May! Biennial month!

Correcting and planning this year’s biennial schedule is like having the world’s largest candy bag with sweet, salty, sour, creamy and some crunchy nuts. How will anyone be able to take part in all these sharp and exciting performances and seminars? Nobody´s experience will be like someone else’s.

In previous biennals, the egg trick has spread, ie walk around with some boiled eggs in your pocket to see more and not have to eat. This year we have a new solution, every day you can enjoy your lunch at Louis de Geer Concert and Congress while listening to various podcasts recorded on a specially designed stage. You do not even need to be without performing arts when you want to relax for a while with refreshments in the afternoons,  we run a new talk show concept on the same stage, where different hosts invite guests to talk about what they want. In the evenings there will be food even after normal restaurant hours for those who need to reload. A little later different things will happen, do not miss Friday’s “Coffee, cake and karaoke” where you can let your inner Justin Bieber come out, or why not finally show that you should have played Kristina from Duvemåla or Cavaradossi in Tosca! Haven’t you already bought your biennial pass, do it here.

It is very exciting to welcome so many international guests to the biennale. At the participating lists we currently have performing arts people from Bangladesh, Kenya, Rwanda, USA, Germany, Canada, Island, South Africa, Palestine, Turkey, China, Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland And Russia.

We are pleased to announce that we have received contributions from Stockholm City, The Swedish Art´s Council and Malmö City to arrange Proud Performing Arts at Pride this summer! We will go to Växjö Pride next week and formally launch a national network of institutions and organizations that will work together to make the queer performances more widely distributed and to make it easier for producers and audiences to find each other. The program for Malmö Pride is set, but we are still receiving ideas from our members about seminars, readings and performances for Stockholm Pride.

As many know, we are part of the global organization ITI-International Theater Institute. In July, the World Congress is taking place in Segovia, Spain, and a dance symposium is organized.


Ulricha Johnson

Managing Director



World Dance Day, Saturday April 29th

This year’s World Dance Day Message is based on choreographer Trisha Brown’s thoughts about the art that she loved and created, through her long and celebrated career.

I became a dancer because of my desire to fly. The transcendence of gravity was always something that moved me. There is no secret meaning in my dances. They are a spiritual exercise in a physical form.

Dance communicates and expands the universal language of communication, giving birth to joy, beauty and the advancement of human knowledge. Dance is about creativity…again and again…in the thinking, in the making, in the doing, and in the performing. Our bodies are a tool for expression and not a medium for representation. This notion liberates our creativity, which is the essential lesson and gift of art-making.

The life of an artist does not end with age, as some critics believe. Dance is made of people, people and ideas. As an audience, you can take the creative impulse home with you and apply it to your daily life.

*This message is for dance professionals and dance admirers all over the world. It is published also as a tribute to Trisha Brown who passed away on 18 March 2017.
The message has been put together from her written works and statements by her close collaborator Susan Rosenberg. It shares her vision about her work and the values that it reflects.

Trisha Brown was one of the pioneers of postmodern choreography and founded, among other things, the Trisha Brown Dance Company in New York in the 70’s. She has created over 100 dance works since 1961 and was the first female choreographer to receive the sought after MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Genius Award.”
In 2003, Brown was honored with the National Medal of Arts.

World Theatre Day Message

The message author of 2017 is Isabelle Huppert, the theatre and cinema actress from France.

So, here we are once more. Gathered again in Spring, 55 years since our inaugural meeting, to celebrate World Theatre Day. Just one day, 24 hours, is dedicated to celebrating theatre around the world. And here we are in Paris, the premier city in the world for attracting international theatre groups, to venerate the art of theatre.

Paris is a world city, fit to contain the globes theatre traditions in a day of celebration; from here in France’s capital we can transport ourselves to Japan by experiencing Noh and Bunraku theatre, trace a line from here to thoughts and expressions as diverse as Peking Opera and Kathakali; the stage allows us to linger between Greece and Scandinavia as we envelope ourselves in Aeschylus and Ibsen, Sophocles and Strindberg; it allows us to flit between Britain and Italy as we reverberate between Sarah Kane and Prinadello. Within these twenty-four hours we may be taken from France to Russia, from Racine and Moliere to Chekhov; we can even cross the Atlantic as a bolt of inspiration to serve on a Campus in California, enticing a young student there to reinvent and make their name in theatre.
Indeed, theatre has such a thriving life that it defies space and time; its most contemporary pieces are nourished by the achievements of past centuries, and even the most classical repertories become modern and vital each time they are played anew. Theatre is always reborn from its ashes, shedding only its previous conventions in its new-fangled forms: that is how it stays alive.

World Theatre Day then, is obviously no ordinary day to be lumped in with the procession of others. It grants us access to an immense space-time continuum via the sheer majesty of the global canon. To enable me the ability to conceptualise this, allow me to quote a French playwright, as brilliant as he was discreet, Jean Tardieu: When thinking of space, Tardieu says it is sensible to ask “what is the longest path from one to another?”…For time, he suggests measuring, “in tenths of a second, the time it takes to pronounce the word ‘eternity’”…For space-time, however, he says: “before you fall asleep , fix your mind upon two points of space, and calculate the time it takes, in a dream, to go from one to the other”. It is the phrase in a dream that has always stuck with me. It seems as though Tardieu and Bob Wilson met. We can also summarise the temporal uniqueness of World Theatre day by quoting the words of Samuel Beckett, who makes the character Winnie say, in his expeditious style: “Oh what a beautiful day it will have been”. When thinking of this message, that I feel honoured to have been asked to write, I remembered all the dreams of all these scenes. As such, it is fair to say that I did not come to this UNESCO hall alone; every character I have ever played is here with me, roles that seem to leave when the curtain falls, but who have carved out an underground life within me, waiting to assist or destroy the roles that follow; Phaedra, Araminte, Orlando, Hedda Gabbler, Medea, Merteuil, Blanche DuBois….Also supplementing me as I stand before you today are all the characters I loved and applauded as a spectator. And so it is, therefore, that I belong to the world. I am Greek, African, Syrian, Venetian, Russian, Brazilian, Persian, Roman, Japanese, a New Yorker, a Marseillais, Filipino, Argentinian, Norwegian, Korean, German, Austrian, English – a true citizen of the world, by virtue of the personal ensemble that exists within me. For it is here, on the stage and in the theatre, that we find true globalization.

On World Theatre Day in 1964, Laurence Olivier announced that, after more than a century of struggle, a National Theatre has just been created in the United Kingdom, which he immediately wanted to morph into an international theatre, at least in terms of its repertoire. He knew well that Shakespeare belonged to the world. In researching the writing of this message, I was glad to learn that the inaugural World Theatre Day message of 1962 was entrusted to Jean Cocteau, a fitting candidate due to his authoring of the book ‘Around the World Again in 80 Days’. This made me realise that I have gone around the world differently. I did it in 80 shows or 80 movies. I include movies in this as I do not differentiate between playing theatre and playing movies, which surprises even me each time I say it, but it is true, that’s how it is, I see no difference between the two.

Speaking here I am not myself, I am not an actress, I am just one of the many people that theatre uses as a conduit to exist, and it is my duty to be receptive to this – or, in other words, we do not make theatre exist, it is rather thanks to theatre that we exist. The theatre is very strong. It resists and survives everything, wars, censors, penury.

It is enough to say that “the stage is a naked scene from an indeterminate time” – all’s it needs is an actor. Or an actress. What are they going to do? What are they going to say? Will they talk? The public waits, it will know, for without the public there is no theatre – never forget this. One person alone is an audience. But let’s hope there are not too many empty seats! Productions of Ionesco’s productions are always full, and he represents this artistic valour candidly and beautifully by having, at the end of one of his plays, and old lady say; “Yes, Yes, die in full glory. Let’s die to enter the legend…at least we will have our street…”

World Theatre Day has existed for 55 years now. In 55 years, I am the eighth woman to be invited to pronounce a message – if you can call this a ‘message’ that is. My predecessors (oh, how the male of the species imposes itself!) spoke about the theatre of imagination, freedom, and originality in order to evoke beauty, multiculturalism and pose unanswerable questions. In 2013, just four years ago, Dario Fo said: “The only solution to the crisis lies in the hope of the great witch-hunt against us, especially against young people who want to learn the art of theatre: thus a new diaspora of actors will emerge, who will undoubtedly draw from this constraint unimaginable benefits by finding a new representation”. Unimaginable Benefits – sounds like a nice formula, worthy to be included in any political rhetoric, don’t you think?…

As I am in Paris, shortly before a presidential election, I would like to suggest that those who apparently yearn to govern us should be aware of the unimaginable benefits brought about by theatre. But I would also like to stress, no witch-hunt!

Theatre is for me represents the other it is dialogue, and it is the absence of hatred. ‘Friendship between peoples’ – now, I do not know too much about what this means, but I believe in community, in friendship between spectators and actors, in the lasting union between all the peoples theatre brings together – translators, educators, costume designers, stage artists, academics, practitioners and audiences. Theatre protects us; it shelters us…I believe that theatre loves us…as much as we love it…

I remember an old-fashioned stage director I worked for, who, before the nightly raising of the curtain would yell, with full-throated firmness ‘Make way for theatre!’ – and these shall be my last words tonight.

Newsletter #February

We are very much looking forward to the performing arts year 2017!

We are currently focusing on the planning of our largest event of the year; Scenkonstbiennalen – the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts. The biennial is Sweden’s largest festival for performing arts, and it is an important gathering place for those working within the profession. For international visitors the festival also serves as a window into the world of Swedish performing arts.

The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2017 is held May 23-28 in the beautiful city of Norrköping, which is situated approximately 130 kilometres south of Sweden’s capital Stockholm. The festival includes jury selected performances, student productions and international guest performances as well as a variety of seminars, workshops, meetings, parties and much more. The full festival program will be published in March at

If you wish to join us, please send an email to and we’ll do our best to help out!

After the Biennial, we are looking forward to meeting our international colleagues at the ITI World Congress in Segovia, Spain. As the world is closing its boarders, the international collaborations and relations are more important than ever. Even if 2016 was the year of political depravation in many ways, we look brightly into 2017 and hope the year will bring lots of artistically important and fascinating experiences.

Ulricha Johnson

Managing Director, Scensverige – Swedish ITI


Read the full newsletter here.


The office is closed for vacation for a few weeks.

If you’re in Stockholm, we are working with Stockholm Pride so meet us at Pride House July 28 and 29!

Otherwise, we are back in the office on August 15th.

Hope you all have a great summer!