The Pocket Theatre was first conceived by Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson, artist and writer, in 1989. It incidentally began one day when the artist realized that he had forgotten an appointment he had with several actors at a studio. He also discovered that he did not have enough material for the appointment. As a result, he sat down and spontaneously wrote some texts for video work.
Two years later, Thorvaldur was asked to continue with this work on a weekly basis for the National Broadcasting Company, Ras 2, in Iceland. A fellow Icelandic artist and writer, Hallgrimur Helgason had seen Thorvaldurs work at an exhibition and encouraged Thorvaldur to continue with similar work for radio. Subsequently, Thorvaldur wrote series of short-plays for radio, that were broadcasted weekly for a whole year, obtaining the name Pocket Theatre only few minutes before the first broadcasting.
The Pocket Theatre playlets vary in form and structure. Some of them are devised as simple dialogues, others are merely fantasies only to be understood by the reader and impossible to put on stage. The only thing they have in common is their length, 1 to 2 minutes in performance.
Before Christmas of 1992, a collection of the Pocket Theatre playlets, under the name “Angel in the Audience”, was published by the Bjartur Publishing Company, The book soon became a cult among Icelandic performance artists, writers and theatre people.
During the last years, the Pocket Theatre has increasingly been seen on television as well as on the stages of larger theatres in Iceland. The artist himself has used the playlets as an inspiration in several of his theatre pieces and never lets the collection “Angel in the Audience” out of sight.
Read a sample radio play: