newsletter march 2020

Newsletter March 2021

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With great admiration, we are following the country’s performing artists, rehearsals with masks and protective visors, go to the premiere and eventually packing everything in boxes with anticipation of the new theatre season which will arrive when the time is right.

We were glad to receive so many suggestions for seminars, discussions and workshops for our semi-digital Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts which will happen this year on May 18-21! The program scheduling is already in the process and if, by any luck that destiny, vaccines and the Public Health Authority allow it, several events and performances will take place live in their respective hometowns as well as being available on the website.

Take part of our latest announcements with publications, tips, open calls and events. On Saturday 27th of March is the celebration of the World Theatre Day, which was instituted by the International Theatre Institute in Paris in 1961. This year the actress Helen Mirren wrote a global message, which she finishes as such:
”The creative urge of writers, designers, dancers, singers, actors, musicians, directors, will never be suffocated and in the very near future will flourish again with a new energy and a new understanding of the world we all share. I can’t wait!”

Best regards,
Ulricha Johnson
Managing director
Swedish Performing Arts Coalition

Read the newsletter here.

newsletter december 2020

Newsletter #December 2020

Swedish Performing Arts Coalition is the Swedish Centre of the International Theater Institute (ITI). It was created by the initiative of the first UNESCO Director General Sir Julian Huxley and the playwright and novelist JB Priestly in 1948, and has over a hundred centers all over the world. We had our last General Assembly in Spain 2017 with 62 countries represented, but this year it will be presented online. Our head quarter in Shanghai is planning a digital General Assembly 10-15 December, and some parts of the program is open to the public. Visit their facebook page to read more!

Did you miss Swedstage Online or would like to share it with someone who didn’t have the opportunity to see it? Explore the full program on the Swedstage website! 

Swedish Performing Arts Coalition was  invited to participate in the event Sustainable Leadership in the Arts which was part of the Nordic Talks series with the Nordic Council of Ministers for International Leadership Week in November 2020. The 3-day event included 3 free online panels with Nordic and UK artistic leaders discussing their organisations’ positive practices and what changes need to be made for the future. Ulricha Johnson participated in the talk about Diversity and Inclusivity with Fin Kennedy from Tamasha Theatre Company and Lars Werner Thomsen from Glad Teater. Visit Cut the cord’s website to read more.

Due to Covid-19, the next edition of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in Västerås is postponed to 2022. In 2021, we will present a semi-digital version of the Biennal. We will share more updated information on our website soon.

Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updated information about our work!

Best regards,
Ulricha Johnson
Managing director
Swedish Performing Arts Coalition

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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 #December 2019

We are very happy to announce that Västerås (Westeros for Game of Thrones fans!) will be the city for the next Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in May 2021! It will be incredibly fun to invite everyone to Västmanland’s Theater, where Niklas Hjulström is the Executive and Artistic Leader. Västerås and Västmanland have a history of a rich and innovative cultural life, and many exciting cultural personalities. Västmanland’s Theater has over the years done a fantastic anchoring work and creates a lot of commitment in the region. In addition, Scensverige will celebrate 70 years as Swedish Center of International Theatre Institute, so this biennial will become extra festive in several ways. 

Contemporary Russia exchange plans
Scensverige has just returned from Moscow, where we met Russian partners for an exchange of contemporary drama between our countries. The project was initiated by the Cultural Councelor Stefan Ingvarsson at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, and we have had planning meetings with the Meyerhold Center, which is a unique house with three stages that are open to independent performing arts. They work with a comprehensive residency program to encourage non-established creators to enter the industry. Now we would like to know which Swedish institutions, venues or performing arts presenters who are interested in being part of staged readings of a number of newly written Russian plays during 2021. 

While in Moscow we also took the opportunity to visit the Gogol Center and show our support to the director and artistic director Kirill Serebrennikov via his management staff. Serebrennikov has been released from a house arrest after 20 months, but still faces imprisonment on charges of financial crime, and his passport is seized. Most people agree that the crime is fabricated and that the detention is because his work is provocative. We also visited our Russian sister organization within the International Theater Institute, which has its office at the Rainkin School of Performing Arts, and had additional meetings with Elektroteatern and Theater Doc, who visited Proud Performing Arts during Stockholm Pride 2018 with the play Out of the closet. The director was earlier this year forced to police interrogation after saboteurs sent in a 15-year-old with false ID documents in the audience, thus stopping the performance under the gay propaganda law for minors. Despite troublesome gray zones, Russian performing arts is blooming, and young, modern creators are attracting lots of audiences to productions that address societal issues.

International festival in Fujairah
The International Monodrama Festival in Fujairah in February have requested suggestions for a Swedish production, we are now investigating who would suit the festival. The arranger is the United Arab Emirates ITI Center, who offer international productions to a local audience, as well as seminars and artistic talks to create understanding and ties across borders. 
European Council meeting
Since out last newsletter we’ve also been to a European Council meeting during the Maribor Theater Festival in Slovenia. Our European Council is one of all regional councils of the International Theater Institute, which is our main organization. We met colleagues from 19 countries and had many thoughtful and lively discussions about cultural policy, gender equality, diversity, LGBTQ +, the conflicts in Turkey, the threat to freedom of expression in Hungary, refugee projects in Switzerland, prison projects in Italy, the social significance of the theater in Belgium and Macedonia among many others. 

We have also this fall had creative days in Tbilisi, where we are working on a project with local partners and our colleagues at the Georgian ITI center. With funding from the Swedish Institute we are striving to strengthen our bonds with different Georgian communities. More info to come!

Come see us in New York, and join the Proud Performing Arts
In January we travel to New York to initiate collaborations between our members and US partners. We participate in APAP, ISPA and Under the Radar, and have good guidance in the conference jungle by Elin Norquist, who after work at the Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Music Agency, is our consultant. On January 14 we will take our international LGBTQIA network Proud Performing Arts to a further level. We are hosting a long table talk at Scandinavia House, with both American and Swedish participants. The talk is ally inclusive and we direct our work both to organizations who want to take their LGBT+ work further and artists who identify as or work with LGBT+ perspectives. Please get in touch if you want more info on this. We wish you all the best for the holidays and the new year. And remember the best gifts are performing arts experiences!

Photo: From the production “Den sårade divan”, Folkteatern Gävleborg
Photographer: Tomas van der Kaaij

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.