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We Were to Live Here, Together: Notes on Strangeness, Othering, Dramaturgy, Ethics, and Aesthetics

Conference paper
Authors Kristina Hagström-Ståhl
Published in International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress, Theatre and Migration, Belgrade
Publication year 2018
Published at Academy of Music and Drama
Language en
Subject categories Performing Art Studies, Performing Arts


In “What is Epic Theatre?”, Walter Benjamin reflects on the act of interruption as a political, dramaturgical, and aesthetic strategy for the theatre. To exemplify he outlines a scene of bourgeois family conflict, into which a stranger enters – interrupting the action and providing a new and defamiliarizing perspective on the situation at hand. With this point of departure, my paper examines the political and aesthetic potential of Kristian Hallberg’s We were to live here, together, which I directed at Folkteatern in Gothenburg in 2017. Set in contemporary Sweden, this play subtly brings the private sphere of a married, middle-aged, middle-class, white couple into a confrontation with social precarity and exclusion. Here, the entry – onto the stage, into the middle-class home, and by extension into the arena of public life – of a stranger/Other, in the shape of a homeless Eastern European Roma woman, disrupts and makes strange the course of everyday life, the politics of hospitality, and not least the relation between Sweden’s majority population and so-called ”EU migrants.” My presentation analyzes the drama and its contextualization in the social sphere and migration politics of contemporary Sweden/Europe, while simultaneously considering the aesthetic, ethical and technical/practical challenges involved in working with this text as a director.

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