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

Newsletter #June

Thank you everyone who came to our annual meeting at Teater Galeasen! We have several new board members, and new chairman is Petra Brylander, Head of Uppsala City Theater. The Education Committee also has some new representatives and we welcome the new committee chairman Simon Norrthon. Read about the board and committees here.

After the annual meeting, Stina Oscarsson held a panel talk called “Culture as a co-player or counter-power in a declining democracy – a talk about currents in Europe and Sweden”. We also presented the latest Freemuse report with figures on which countries in the world are the highest or increasing the most regarding threats, violence, censorship and self-censorship. Panel participants Astrid Menasanch Tobiesen and Arne Ruth contributed eye-opening and wise reflections and many lively and inspiring conversations occurred after the seminar. Read the Freemuse Report here.

I participated in May at a European conference with the On The Move Network in Lisbon, and as usual there were many interesting conversations about the various conditions and course of events in Europe, as well as some other countries. Most people are surprised about hearing about the political situation in Sweden, and colleagues from e.g. Poland, Hungary and Spain are talking about how fast things change. At the same time, there is such an unprecedented power in what is created in theaters, institutions and independent groups in Europe, and the counter-movement against the restriction of artistic freedom is both alive and strong.

Swedish ASSITEJ and Scensverige – Swedish ITI were commissioned by the Swedish Institute to coordinate international guests to the Bibu Children’s and Youth Festival in Helsingborg in May. We were able to welcome guests from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Estonia, Turkey, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Germany, Pakistan, Belgium, Norway and South Africa. In addition to seeing performances, our guests attended seminars, conversations and mingles. Every day we also had a program item entitled “Coffee with Bibu”, which served as a meeting place for exchange, reflection and conversation between foreign guests and Swedish practitioners. Here, Pelle Hanæus led talks about the performances of the festival and on trends in the Swedish performing arts with questions about gender, gender equality, HBTQ and representation on stage.

Scensverige arranged a packed seminar on hbtq perspective in performing arts for children and youth, and Joakim Rindå from Riksteatern moderated a panel with playwright Isabel Cruz Liljegren, directors/actors/artistic directors Mattias Brunn and Johanna Salander.

At our mingle we opened the opportunity to submit seminar proposals to the 2019 Perfoming Arts Biennale in Sundsvall and Härnösand – the winner of the competition is announced in the next newsletter.

For the third year we arrange “Proud Performing Arts” at Stockholm Pride. What started as a pilot project in 2016 has grown very fast and now we have both a national network and together with our members we have programs in Växjö, Malmö, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Gävle, Jönköping and Umeå. Stockholm and Gothenburg are this year hosting EuroPride and Scensverige- Swedish ITI is in charge of stages at the Stockholm City Theater / Unga Klara and Bältesspännar Park and Storan in Göteborg, with funding from the Swedish Arts Council, Stockholm City, Kulturkalaset and Theater Center West.

In Stockholm Aug 1-3, we also have the opportunity, in cooperation with the Swedish Institute, to invite foreign guests and will host the first international workgroup meeting in the new Proud Performing Arts network. Come and enjoy the program with shows from both institutions and independent producers from different parts of Sweden, as well as shows and panel discussions with guests from Russia, Georgia, Spain, England, South Africa, India and the United States. When we have announced the meeting through various international organizations, the response has been great. There seems to have been an urgency in an international arena and to get acquainted with the experiences of others, see and talk about each other’s artistry and ideas, and support and help the LGBT+ artists become visible. Many work and live in very exposed positions. To gather so many in Sweden and also talk about and understand all the amazing things that happen and what works are created and will be created with great artistic height will give everyone, both artists and audiences, an unforgettable experience.

Read the fresh program here.

Best regards,

Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director Scensverige – Swedish ITI

Foto Peter Knutson

Newsletter #December

Thank you to all the council members and others who took part in the council meeting and the seminar afternoon at Stockholm Uniarts! Many interesting thoughts, suggestions and reflections on subjects internship, master’s level and residence. Exciting how the residence form is spreading from the dance world (where it’s most common) to several art forms. For the houses that have the opportunity, it is a very rewarding process to open up rehearsal spaces and offer stage technicians and dramaturg support to artists with a production idea that can be tested. Thanks to the Swedish ITI Education Committee that organized the seminars, we aim for an even bigger salon next fall so more people can take part in the event!

In November, the IETM conference was held in Brussels, and I was able to meet with Brussels-based ILGA (International Gay and Lesbian Association) Europe about the coming international network within ITI (International Theater Institute), which we initiated. They were very positive about the idea and would like to help us gain access to their large network, in order to locate and gather performing artists in the HBTQ sphere. At the beginning of next year we will send an open call to all ITI centers around the world, hoping to get international guests to Stockholm and Gothenburg, which this summer host EuroPride.

Next week is the European Council for all European ITI centers. We will talk about how we can further enable cross-border cooperation, and how our organization can be a driving party.

The year is coming to an end, and we want to give an extra welcome all new members! Those who have become members this year are:
Big Wind, Centrum för scenisk rörelse och eget skapande, Figurteaterkompaniet, Göteborgs dans- och teaterfestival, Karavan Scenkonstkollektiv, Kompani Giraff, Kulturakademin Trappan, Operalabb, Operaimprovisatörerna, Stockholm Fringe Festival, Teater Martin Mutter, Teater Tribunalen and Teresia Björk.

We have just launched this years performing arts quiz, in which no one so far has managed to get everything right. If you understand Swedish, please give it a try!

Newsletter #September

Fall season at last!

Not a day goes by without some of our members announcing their packed, challenging, inspiring and unpredictable programs. Not to mention all the exciting courses, seminars and training opportunities that are announced. Now it’s our painful luxury problem to try to catch everything before it’s too late. My tip is to be on full speed already in September because more and more premiers are coming.

Scensverige – Swedish ITI is a member’s organization where both institutions, city theaters, national theatres, independent producers, universities, unions, festivals, alliances and employer’s organizations are members. Each member appoints its representatives to the Council, meeting in the spring for the annual meeting and the autumn of the Council meeting. At the autumn council meeting it is common for the Education Committee to arrange a seminar or panel call etc. In the autumn we will try something new. Instead of just organizing a seminar for council members, we will open the doors of everyone who is attached to any member, ie everyone in the staff, the ensembles, the students, and others after the short council meeting. The event will take place in Stockholm on November 27th, with the preliminary time 2-4 pm. We will get back with venue and program information, but be sure to book the date! The subject will be very relevant and the Education Committee represents all the artistic universities in the country. We are planning to place these council meetings in cities other than Stockholm in the future, so do not despair if it’s too far for you to go this time. Here you can see all our members.

We are very pleased that we have had Kompani Giraff, Karavan Performing Arts Collective, Culture Academy Trappan, Opera Improvisers, Theater Tribunal and Theater Martin Mutter welcome as new members!

Scensverige’s network Proud Performance, for performing arts with LGBT perspective, is currently investigating different ways of informing and mobilizing to facilitate both practitioners and bookers to find and learn from each other. There is a Facebook group that you can apply to join if you want to find shows to see or book, or look for artistic collaborators for your next project. The group was formerly known as the HBTQ Network of Riksteatern, but has now changed name to Stolt Scenkonst, and is moderated by me and Joakim Rindå of Riksteatern. Unfortunately, if you don’t read Swedish you will need to run things through a translation program.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Scensverige – Swedish ITI is going to be contact center for LGBT performing arts of global ITI. We will soon take the first steps in organizing the beginning of this work group/network. All ITI centers will be contacted, but please don´t hesitate to contact me if you want to.

Best wishes for a creative autumn,

Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director Scensverige – Swedish ITI



Newsletter #August

What a wonderful and important summer!
Thank you everyone who enlightened our summer with performing arts around the world. You are creating so many different experiences while defying bad weather and in some cases uncertain financing is so valuable. Not least you attract many first-time visitors to shows and make them curious about the enchanted world of performing arts. Right now there are plenty of rehearsals in all kinds of venues in preparation of the fall season.

Scensverige is the Swedish Center of ITI (International Theater Institute), which was founded by Unesco in 1948. In July, the 35th World Congress was held in the Unesco World Heritage City of Segovia, Spain. This was my first congress as new Managing Director. The theme was Act! Performing Arts Transforming the World, and present were representatives from over 62 countries attending general meetings, committee meetings, regional annual meetings, workshops, talks and performances. It was a thrilling experience to sit in the old abbey, now university auditorium, and listen to colleagues from countries with completely different conditions and realities, both better and worse than ours.

Scensverige’s former, now retired, head of operations/secretary general Ann Mari Engel (picture), who has worked with ITI since 1976, was honoured for her work in the Executive Council, and now bears the title Honorary Member. In her new role, she will, among other things, continue to be active in the Action Commitee for Artist’s Rights.

A new board was elected, consisting of members from the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Italy, China, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Germany, India, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Vietnam. More about the board members here.

A troubling development in many places around the world right now is that politicians are engaging in detail management of art. Several countries in Europe, Africa and South America gave fresh testimonies on the subject. Our colleague from Israel wanted support from ITI regarding worrying restrictions that hamper the Israeli artists. This year, the well-established theater festival in Acco was cancelled because of performances that were not accepted by the authorities.

New global network of performing arts with a LGBTQ perspective
Our American colleague Jorge Ortoll, responsible for the Network for Heritage, Indigenous Cultures & Migration, raised the question as to why there is no spotlight on LGBTQ issues in ITI. Scensverige decided to form a working group on a global network of performing arts with a LGBTQ perspective. The interest is great from many countries to be active in this group, which will cooperate with some of the committees.

“Proud Performing Arts” is getting bigger
We are thrilled to see the Scensverige investment in Proud Performing Arts spreading and generating curiosity and enthusiasm. Last year we tested the concept during Stockholm Pride, and this year we already have a national network that currently consists of Scensverige, Folkteatern Gävleborg, Regionteatern Blekinge Kronoberg, Dansstationen i Malmö, Riksteatern, Stockholms Stadsteater Skärholmen, Unga Klara, Norrlandsoperan and West Pride. During Stockholm Pride we had guest performances from DonnaDonna from Malmö (The shall find us together), Teater Martin Mutter from Örebro (Article 3), Folkteatern Gävleborg (Transaction, upper right picture) and Riksteatern / Folkteatern Gävleborg (The Land Within). We had many worthwhile collaborations over these five days; The Stadsteatern Skärholmen organized an evening of readings, panel talks and an excerpt from the upcoming performance “Getting rid of Eddy”, Unstraight Museum and Lesbisk Makt arranged an daytime party with music, poetry slam, readings and dancing, together with Lesbisk Makt we also organized “Lesbian Brunch & Queer Drama”, including readings of excerpts from five newly written, upcoming works, Nilleteatern organized the panel talk “Trans on stage”, Riksteatern “It’s here it’s queer”, RFSL/RFSU held after talks and the Norm Critical Workgroup of the Theatre Union held a dragking workshop. We also arranged a celebrated stand-up evening with, among others, British comedian Bethany Black.

Thanks to all the organizations and members involved, thank you Fri Scen and Unga Klara for letting us use your premises, and thanks to the Arts Council and Stockholm City and Malmö City for the foundation.

The following week Proud Stage Art in Malmö Pride was held, with Dansstationen as the host and Chris Schenlaer as project manager. Among the performances were “The Land Within”, as well as July Appons “Life is Hard and Then You Die – Part 3” and “Everything remains”. The performance “Gender Fuck(er)”, vogue ball with House of Ninja and a conversation with Saga Becker and Yolanda Bohm, as well as workshop with RFSL, Drag Queen Story Hour and the launch ceremony at the Blå Båten was included in this three-day program.
Now we go on to Stolt Scenkonst on Gävle Pride, here you can see the program.

Enjoy the last sun before we finally meet in the dark theaters again!

Kind regards,
Ulricha Johnson, Managing Director Scensverige

Newsletter #June

Thank you for a fantastic Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2017!

Norrköping welcomed us all with sunny and warm weather, and we were 1400 biennial visitors, including guests from 26 countries. This year’s program consisted of 136 activities and the number of personal performance visits amounted to almost 9000.

Congratulations to the prize winner of the year, which was announced at the biennial party – Tilde Björfors (Swedish Theatre Critics Association award for theatre), Malin Hellkvist Sellén (Swedish Theatre Critics Association award for dance as well as the Swedish Directors Association director’s prize Iris), The performance Paper by Marionetteatern (Swedish Theatre Critics Associations award for childrens theatre) and Clowns Without Borders (Swedish Assitej Prix d´ASSITEJ). We would also like to thank and congratulate Wuthering Heights from Moment:teater that now unofficially holds the biennial record with 40 performances in five days.

We at Scensverige get lots of e-mails from people who want to thank us for the quality of the exciting selected shows and seminars this year, and we are happy about that! There are also some that have questioned the selection and presented critique about how the selection was done. We welcome all views and think it’s good that there is a discussion. Let’s keep the conversation alive until the next biennial in 2019!

We would like to give special thanks to the selection committee and the program group who did a great job in designing the program this year. Thank you everyone, actors, producers and organizations that participated in performances and seminars, you make the biennial what it is – at the same time broad and sharp, fun, stubborn, loving, committed and up to date.

As for the 2019 biennial, it is not yet clear which city will host the event. We have a number of interested municipalities and institutions that have notified us of their interest, and the board of Scensverige is currently working on the issue.

We would like to thank Östgötateatern and their fantastic staff who did a great job, the Scenkonstbolaget with their amazing symphony orchestra that helped the opening ceremony become something extraordinary. Upplev Norrköping / Norrköping, Louis de Geer Konsert och Kongress, as well as the region of Östergötland.

Thank you also to the Cultural Council for the confidence to let us handle this large arrangement, and to the Swedish Institute, which made sure that many long-distance guests had the opportunity to attend. And not least the Swedish cultural councils, who contributed with both exciting perspectives and guests.

Now we are preparing to program this year’s edition of Stolt Scenkonst at Stockholm Pride, the first week of August. During Växjö Pride a few weeks ago, we started the national network Stolt Scenkonst to spread and increase the availability of performing arts with LGBT perspectives. Our present constellation consists of Scensverige and the members Riksteatern, Blekinge Kronoberg Regional Theater, Danstationen in Malmö, Unga Klara, Folkteatern in Gävleborg  and West Pride. We are welcoming additions to the network, and will have meetings in Stockholm and Malmö Pride.

In July, the International Theater Institute’s World Congress takes place in Segovia, Spain. More information about this and the Swedish participation will be available in the next newsletter.

Make good use of the rest of June – make sure that you see all the performances you missed, before the theaters close and the summer season begins.

Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director

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



Newsletter #April

We´ve finally released the tickets for all the performances and seminars at the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts! We can´t wait to see you in Norrköping 23rd-28th May. If tickets to your most desired performances run out, don´t despair, things can often work out at the festival when people return and trade tickets.

We proudly present the international guest performances at the Biennal! The world famous Compagnie Marie Chouinard from Canada will come with a full evening performance which will be played twice on the main stage of the Louis de Geer Concert and Congress Hall. The first piece is this iconic choreographer´s reinterpretation of Rite of Spring. The other piece is Henri Michaux: Mouvements, based on a book by Michaux with poetry and flowing images.

We also offer a guest appearance by acclaimed Icelandic Kridpleir Theater Group. The show Crisis Meeting deals with an attempt to be transparent in working on an application to the Art´s Council. The performance is described as a blend between anarchy, sit-com and Samuel Beckett.

I´m currently in Cardiff for a European conference and general assembly with Europe on the Move. We are representatives from 14 countries here, and the very generous Wales Art´s Council are hosting us.

Ann Mari Engel, who is Sweden’s board member of the International Theater Institute, just took part in a meeting in Moscow, planning the ITI World Congress in Segovia in Spain in July. The congress should have been held last year in Brazil, but was canceled because of the shaky political situation.

Our fantastic project manager and communicator Lovisa Björkman is soon going on parental leave, and Johanna Broman will take her place for a while. Johanna has a deep knowledge of the industry and we are delighted that she has chosen to come to us. She´s worked at Riksteatern, Folkoperan, the Museum of Modern Art, Jupither and Josephsson, among others.

We are very happy for the response from the Arts Council and the City of Stockholm regarding Proud Performing Arts (Stolt Scenkonst) at Pride! We are thrilled to get to do this mini-performing arts festival with shows and seminars again in Pride House in Stockholm, and this year broaden the geographical perspective to Malmö.


Ulricha Johnson
Managing Director

Read the full newsletter here.
Look at all Swedish premieres in April here.

Newsletter #December

I have now worked as managing director for a year. It has been a wonderful, exciting and busy year, and I’m only now starting to grasp the both broad and specialized work this organization does.

In the beginning of the year, our organization was called Teaterunionen – Swedish ITI, but we have now changed name to Scensverige – Swedish ITI. Discussions regarding name change have been held for years, and now we and our members found a name to agree on and be proud of.

We are a national and a neutral member’s organization for producers, unions, institutions and universities of all performing arts genres, and it is important that our work is essential for our members. It is also very important for us that we nurture our international contacts. We want to thank all members, partners and contributors for this year and also welcome all of our new members and contacts.

Through this year we have arranged and participated in many different projects. For example New Nordic Drama in the Faroe Islands, the ITI conference and Monodrama Festival in the United Arab Emirates, Stockholm Pride Festival, the Swedish Focus on Maribor Theatre Festival in Slovenia, Swedstage in Stockholm, Europe on the Move conference in Germany and conducted a pilot study for Queer Voices of Russia in Russia. Our latest trip was in November on occasion of Swedish Theme at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Scensverige’s former director Ann Mari Engel remains in ITI’s Executive Committee until the next World Congress, and has during the year participated in board- and committee meetings. The ITI World Congress, which was supposed to take place in May 2015 in Brazil, is now being planned for Spain in July 2017.

During the remaining part of this year we will mostly work with the The Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts that will take place May 23-28 2017. We are looking forward to both welcoming international guest performances as well as international guests, so if you are interested in Swedish performing arts, please stay updated on the festival work!

Ulricha Johnson,
Managing Director Scensverige Swedish ITI

Read the full newsletter here.

Newsletter #November

We have had a very nice October and are now full of impressions and inspiration!

We participated in Festival Borštnikovo Srečanje (Maribor Theatre Festival), which this year was dedicated to Swedish playwriting and theatre. During the first week of the festival, the book Contemporary Swedish Drama (edited by Alja Predan) was released, featuring translations of four contemporary plays selected by Edward Bromberg in collaboration with Alja Predan.

The Swedish focus also included an introductory lecture by Ulricha Johnson, the director of the Swedish ITI, as well as the first staged reading of the play Medea’s Children (S. Osten and P. Lysander), a conversation with translator Vida Sebastian and director Michael Cock, staged readings of Dissection of a Snowfall (S. Stridsberg) and I Call Upon My Brother (J. H. Khemiri) followed by a conversation with translator Mita Gustinčič Pahor. The focus was concluded with the staged reading of Where is Everybody? (M. Unge) and a conversation with translator Silvana Orel Kos and Ulricha Johnson.

The festival also presented “Wuthering Heights” by moment:teater and the “This is Not a Love Story” by Gunilla Heilborn. Everything was very well received and the festival management and we were very pleased!

A few days later in October, 23-26 to be exact, the third edition of Swedstage started – a major sales event in which 60 international theatre directors, festival bookers, artistic directors, etc. from all over the world came to Stockholm to see what Swedish performing arts has to offer. The performance program included shows for children, youth and adults and was very well received by the guests. We want to thank everyone who took the time to participate and provide assistance in various ways!

Later in November we will go to St. Petersburg with a bunch of translated plays, and arrange readings and talks around new Swedish drama. The playwrights Paula Stenström Öhman and Rasmus Lindberg will go with us, as well as a performance by Unga Klara and a number of playwrights students from the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. We are very much looking forward to spread information about Swedish performing arts in Russia!

Ulricha Johnson, managing director

Read the full newsletter here.