What Happened in 2003

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October 28, 2003


My trip to Iceland was great fun, just as I expected. It’s like walking into a home made mental hospital where everybody has at least five major roles to play and expect you to join in, no matter what. I love it. I felt at home. Iceland is a roller coaster ride of contradictory natural forces, twenty types of weather, colorful family members, beautiful friends, stressful business meetings, ego boosting media participation, intense writing, bad golf playing, enthusiastic planning, last minute wrap up, insane coffee drinking and more hellos and goodbyes than you will ever be able to remember. It is a privilege to be Icelandic. Specially when you don’t live there.

LA news

Since back in LA I have had many different and also difficult experiences, but all for the better when you look at the big picture. That is how life works. Let’s say I have been back to school. Sounds mysterious enough?
Ok. Here are the main news:
* I decided to postpone the publication of the last Betterby book till next year. It wasn’t ready. Sometimes you just know, even though it’s a bitch to have to admit it. And of course I’m very happy with this decision. A printed book is difficult to fix. It will be published in October 2004 and then it will be as good as it gets.
* The play I am writing for Mr. Arnar Jonsson, is, on the other hand, almost finished. The premiere is planned at the end of November in Reykjavik and I’m starting to be very optimistic about the whole thing.

* Theater Trier in Germany is having the German speaking premiere of my play And Bjork, of course... November 13. This performance is a part of a theatre festival called Act In (see their website). They were kind enough to invite me to attend, and most likely I’ll be there. It is interesting to see how your local jokes are doing in a foreign language. Besides I have a great respect for German theatre and it is an honor to be a small part of it for a short while.
* There seem to be, by the way, good theatre-vibes in Europe these days. Just now I am signing up with an agent that will take care of the French speaking areas in Europe for me. Before I had a similar contract with Vischer Verlag in Munchen focusing on German speaking areas. Overseeing this all is my main agent: Nordiska Strakosch in Denmark.
* More bragging: My girlfriend Helena is still making waves in her video-dance world. She has been selected as a finalist in a German competition, based on her idea for a film called “Zimmer”. She gets some money to make a pilot and in January it will be announced who of the six finalists gets the big prize; a production of his or her idea; read about this competition.
August 17, 2003 Brief update:

I’m flying to Iceland tomorrow morning, taking part in an interesting event at EIDAR in the east part of the country. EIDAR is a beautiful place in the country side next to one of the greatest rivers in Iceland; a former school functioning as a hotel in the summer time. EIDAR is now privatly owned and the idea is to transform the whole area, a huge piece of land and several different buildings, into something interesting... but what? The meeting is a kind of a brainstorming workshop where some tvelve artists, curators, arcitects etc. focus on questions like; What is possible to do here? What is needed here? And for whom? ould this place make a difference in the world? Why not?

This is a rare opportunity for all participants to take part in a creative cultural project of a large scale, before it’s shaped by some ignorant politicians or investors, as too often happens.

These last weeks I have been focusing on writing. My fourth and last Betterby book (or Blidfinn, as it’s better known in Europe) is building up in my computer, slowly but surely. It will hopefully be published beginning of November.

Yesterday I finished the first tight draft of a monologue for one of my favourite Icelandic actor, mr. Arnar Jonsson. His 40th anniversary as a professional actor is September 21. and this play, premiered that day, is ment to celebrate his remarkable carrier. I´m honored to be part of this event and hope my play will live up to it. His son, Thorleifur, the new sputnic director in Iceland will direct.

Yesterday evening we had a late-summer-mini-art festival in our garden her in Sherman Oaks, showing few things me and Helena have been doing and introducing works from some of our friends as well. Deborah Greenfield danced flamenco, Jennifer Woodson showed photos, actors like Nanna Sigurdardottir, John Marzilli and John Worshim were to be seen on videos (besides being visible in the garden) and everybody had something creative to offer in their conversations. Between 40 and 50 friends showed up and we all had great time.

July 10, 2003. OPENINGS at the Bergamont Station yesterday.
It was a beautiful LA situation; it took us less time to drive from the valley down to Santa Monica
than we used finding a parking place down there. I asked why it had to be so (hating it) and Helena said “Why not?” (enjoying it). But we both asked the same question after seeing the shows: What is it that is so terribly wrong in this (so called) contemporary art world? All the ART is more or less perfect from a technical point of view and there is little bit of everything on display; paintings, video, photos, sculptures etc… but who cares? And why should someone care? There were no real questions asked, no one seemed to be touched by anything for any possible reason, and the most remarkable thing is that after all these years of artists trying to bring the power of creativity back into our society, the “ART” is more isolated and meaningless in our life than ever before. And that is probably the point: “ART” is never going to be the liberating force for those searching for their creative function in life. The “ART” has already lost it’s potential to be a part of our daily activities, explorations, dreams, struggles and growth. And that is fine, as long as “ART” is acknowledged as what it is; an isolated factory of people making objects. Visual ART is never going to be a significant part of the divine and ever changing playground we all are sharing and enjoying, here and now.

June 28, 2003 PLAYWRIGHT of the year…
I told you earlier about the nominations my play And Björk, of course… got for the Icelandic Theatre Awards (the Icelandic Tony’s). The result was announced in a glamorous ceremony at the National Theatre June 16 and I won in the category Playwright of the year. It’s an honour for me of course…, but everybody who saw the play must agree that my contribution to the project benefited greatly from Benedikt Erlingsson being the director and the remarkable cast and crew behind him. This is not one more of these Oscar speeches, this is the reality. This production was a very unique experience for me as a writer and I find the award an important nod to everybody who want to make a theatre that is not by the book, but based on doing what you like to do, no matter what. But to make it work, you better find people to work with that trusts your text. Meaning: People that trusts them selves.

June 26, 2003 DENMARK was fun!
June 16 – 20 I made a small workshop in Aarhus Denmark, as part of the exhibition project “Feast/Hospitality”. It was a wonderful experience. Both because the team behind the project made everything seem smooth and easy and the young people taking part was so pleasant to work with. They finished the workshop by making a poster project, based on the WANTED idea from Romania (see here below) doing a great job in short time. The future of Denmark is truly bright if this people are representing their younger generations.

June 9, 2003 Great news! Saturday evening Helena, my girlfriend, won first prize in the dance-theatre competition she was taking part in at the Reykjavik City Theatre! Images from her work, OPEN SOURCE, will come here soon.

Today, I’m finishing my first little-bit-more-than-a-draft version of a new play for the City Theatre that will be performed next autumn. It’s called SEKT ER KENND in Icelandic, but I have no idea how to translate it into English. Tomorrow, Tuesday, they start rehearsing for an open reading scheduled next week. The play is taking place in the library next door to the theatre and is about this woman, a prize winning news reporter who steps in to the library while waiting for a journalist to show up to make an interview. While waiting, the reporter is engaged in a kind of an interview she didn’t prepare for...

June 7, 2003 Finally! A sign of life. I won’t bother you with too many details but it’s safe to say that life has been full of great people, exciting new books and stimulating surprises since I wrote in March.
Currently I’m enjoying life more than ever. Enjoyment (based on gratitude) is turning into being my most important task in life. The garden around our house is in full bloom, the birds are singing like crazy and only keep quiet while eating the food I give them or drink from the small fountain we made and I can see and hear through the office door while working. I love it.
As often before, many interesting projects are in the making that you ’ll hear about when the time is right.

Here are few samples, new and old:

In a week I’ll fly to Denmark to make a new work and give a workshop in an exhibition in Aarhus, called Hospitality. You can see all about it on their page: http://www.rum46.dk/engelskomgaestebud.html
I’ll give a rapport when I’m back.

I want to remind you to check out regularly the Inspire newsletter you find at www.fullyalivecoaching.com
I wrote a new article there few weeks ago, called OUT OF THE HOLE, AND INTO THE WHOLE. The title is stolen, like so many good things, from a postcard my girlfriend bought in a shop here in LA. The article, (mostly home made) like the whole newsletter, is focusing on AWARENESS. Read it and tell me what you think!

At the end of March I shot a video-movie, called SHORT, with great help from my girlfriend Helena, (the real filmmaker in the house). We had eight actors in our garden the whole day and with the minimum amount of guidance from me they created a radiant atmosphere of creativity and beauty. We had so much fun! All text was improvised and all I had to do was to take care the actors were in a good mood and feeling safe. The material looks promising and I plan to make it into at least 26 min. film later this summer.

Beginning of April, I took off to Iasi in Romania to make a new work for the “PROPHETIC CORNERS” exhibition I have mentioned earlier. What a beautiful experience! The organizers had done their homework and I was able to do what I had to do in just two-three days. We met with 13 young individuals (13-17 years old) who were willing to take part in the project. They are all highly talented people and it is of great importance for their country that they will find opportunities to grow and bloom. Together we created posters that now have been put up all around the city, showing these 13 faces and names, explaining why they are “wanted for the future of Romania.” The posters look like they are from the police, searching for dangerous criminals, but when you read them you find out that they are of a very different nature.

Helena Jonsdottir, my beloved girlfriend, filmmaker, dancer, choreographer, interior designer, life consultant and mentor, went to Estonia in April to meet artists and producers there, preparing for her possible part as an art director and even a dancer in a new and exciting production. It’s a dance film, made in collaboration with the Estonian TV. More details later.
She also stopped by in Denmark to be at the premiere of the project MOVING NORTH - Ten Short Dance Films, but her film “While the Cat’s Away” was one of the films featured there. I’m very proud of Helena’s contribution, specially since I know the whole clumsy, conservative and sometimes plain stupid story behind the smooth Scandinavian curtains. I’m sitting on my hands now, poking with my nose... I won’t write more.
At this very moment, her latest production OPEN SOURCE is having its premiere in the Reykjavik City Theatre. It’s a part of a contest, competing with eight other new works from other choreographers and directors. I shall stop writing now and start praying!

And talking about the Reykjavik City Theatre. My play, And Björk, of course... the theatre showed last year, has been nominated as the best production in Iceland 2002-2003. An to add to my pride (and pressure) I was nominated as the playwright of the year, Benedikt Erlingsson as the director of the year for Björk... and Harpa Arnardottir (Asta in Björk...) as the best actress in a leading role, as well. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in the National Theatre June 16. I’ll be giving a lecture in Aarhus at the same time. Cool.

March 17, 2003 In the last two days I was reminded once more what helpful tools the Internet and our beloved email can be. I have been receiving very interesting and positive responses from open-minded individuals who came across some of my writings in the “Inspire” newsletter. It’s always encouraging to find out that something you wanted to share with others actually is coming across. I really love the opportunities the web has created for more openness, as a relaxed and casual platform for discussion. That’s also when art works best. When it is casual enough to be encouraging

March 15, 2003 Today a new “Inspire” newsletter was published at the Fully Alive Coaching web page I’m fortunate enough to be a part of. Since November I have been a creative coach at this wonderful place Gudni Gunnarsson has created here in Los Angeles, as well as on the web. It´s based on his seven Fully Alive Coaching steps and reinforced with his Rope Yoga sessions at his home studio. I encourage you to sign up immediately as a subscriber of the newsletter and enjoy the articles you find there. Gudni and a few others, who together make very strong and effective food for the soul and body, write them. Check it out: www.fullyalivecoaching.com
March 12, 2003 Olafur Johannesson, one of the most talented filmmakers around, is now in the middle of a production process, making a film based on my novel “Gentleman’s Tale” from 2001. I’m not sure what he calls the film in English, but when he was here in LA last year, working on the script with me, we called it “The Big Plan”. Probably it has some other name now. It looks like it will be shot this spring. Since his script, that I can’t take any real credit for, is simply great, I’m very optimistic.
In 1998 Olafur and Ragnar Santos and myself made the film “Jesus is Closer to Home” in the Red light district in Amsterdam. You can see QuickTime fragments from it on my page.
March 10, 2003 The “PROPHETIC CORNERS” exhibition in the city of Iasi in Romania is getting closer, opening May 30. It is curated by Anders Kreuger from Sweden and seems to be a very interesting event. I will make a new work there called “WANTED”, focusing on the teenagers of the city, faced with questions like; who is waiting for them? if there is any need for them in their country? and if their talent has any chance of being recognized in the near future? I´ll go to Romania soon to prepare the project.
March 7, 2003 Preperation for the one man show in Gothenborg Konsthalle, opening January 2004, is now in full swing. Other venues are soon to be announced, but it is decided that the exhibition’s last stop will be in Reykjavik Art Museum.
March 4, 2003 Yesterday evening my latest short film, ICELAND, was shown on the Icelandic State TV. It is a small documentary, based on interviews with Icelanders who love their country very much. I have heard all kind of reactions, mostly positive. But Icelanders are very positive by nature anyhow, so I don´t know what to believe.
March 1st, 2003 Got great news today: I have been rewarded with 6 month writer’s grant from the Ministry of Culture and Education in Iceland.
February 24, 2003 Today rehersals started with some of my favourite actors here in LA, for three 20 min. plays that will most likely be staged in a small theatre in North Hollywood. They were translated by my good friend Dr. Karl T Esrason. Hopefully the content is as good as the translation.
February 9, 2003 This morning I took part in a rather unique performance here at the Stavanger Swimming pool in Norway. I was asked to read from one of my Betterby books, in coordination with synchronized swimmers making the most beautiful images in and around the swimming pool. I couldn´t follow the whole procedure, standing myself in a white bathrobe on the lower diving board (I was not put on the highest one for some reason) but when I saw the video a librarian in the audience shot for me, I realized how impressive this whole thing was.
February 7, 2003 On my way to Stavanger in Norway, where I was invited to take part in a conference about children books, I decided to drop by Helsingborg in Sweden and check out how my Pocket Plays were developing in the Stadsteater (The City Theatre). I was delighted to see how the director, Göran Stangertz, had managed to combine 13 of my Pocket Plays in a very beliveable and yet crazy combination of one world - looking surprisingly alike our own. Many of these plays were actually written NOT to be staged except in the readers head, so it was quite a ride to see some of these great Swedish actors bring them to life. The premier will be February 27.
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