Norwegian Hamlet wins the Russian hearts

Norwegian Hamlet in Arkhangelsk is a Barents Kult project. Photo: Rune Alexandersen

Hålogaland Theater performed Hamlet in Arkhangelsk. Many of the audience said that the performance stands out from all the other Hamlet interpretations they have seen before.


On Saturday in the Arkhangelsk Drama Theater a theatrical performance of the Norwegian Hålogaland Theater was carried out. Arkhangelsk audience was looking forward for that. The Russian-Norwegian project between the two theaters was brought to life as a part of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat program “Barents Kult”.

The performance was better than anyone was expecting. The audience was amazed by the professionalism of the actors as well as of the technical workers. Many people who came to see Hamlet pointed out that the performance stands out from all the other Hamlet interpretations they have seen before. Nina Wester and her Hamlet directing got a lot of positive reviews. According to many viewers the she is highly talented and possesses a particularly original view on the Shakespeare’s play.

Photo: Rune Alexandersen

On the way of the project implementation appeared several problems. For example the properties had a trip from Tromso to Arkhangelsk, which took not just two days as it was expected, but almost a week. The car got stuck at the customs, and then broke down not far from Arkhangelsk. By the efforts of both theaters and the Office of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in Arkhangelsk, which was coordinating the project, all the obstacles were eliminated.

According to Frank Kjåsos, the actor playing Hamlet, they were very nervous as they did not know how Russian public, which grew up on classics, would react – Norwegian Hamlet lives in modern times. Speaking about his acting, Frank says: “Before I started acting I tried to think about what new aspects of Hamlet I can reveal to the audience, which has seen thousands of different Hamlets before. I tried to show the sorrow of a loss of the people he loved, despair because of the hopeless situation he faced, because no one was listening and no one was looking for the truth and justice.”

Hålogaland Theater back-stage in Arkhangelsk. Photo: Rune Alexsandersen

The evening performance gathered around 600 people. The audience was watching with bated breath, it was crying and laughing with the characters. At the end of the performance the audience exploded with applause and kept the actors on stage for a long time. People from the audience would come on stage and give the actors flowers. “It was a big surprise for us, we do not have this tradition in Norway, and it was such a pleasure!”- says Frank. 

“Hamlet” in interview with regional TV in Arkhangelsk. Photo: Rune Alexandersen 

According to the Chief of the Arkhangelsk Drama Theater, people will be calling and asking about the next Hamlet performance by the Hålogaland Theater on the Arkhangelsk stage for a long time.

Text: Ksenia Kipurova