Jeg fikk en utfordring på facebook fra min gode fortellervenn Birgit Lehner i Wien. I løpet av fem dager skulle jeg poste fem ulike beskrivelser av ting som har inspirert meg kunstnerisk og hatt en påvirkning på mine valg og veier. Det ble ganske interessant. Fordi utfordreren ikke kan norsk, måtte det gå på engelsk.

foss i Mørkridsdalen

foss i Mørkridsdalen

This was my contribution to a game on facebook called ARTISTIC CHALLENGE.. The game consisted in posting during five consecutive days a status per day concerning one’s artistic path and in nominating each day two friends to do likewise.

My first inspiration was the wild nature in western Norway. I grew up with few books and almost no art. So I didn t go into storytelling because of inspiration, but because I was missing something. The lack of colours, art, creativity forced me to create what wasn t there. So I created other worlds and situations – stories.

But all along the wild nature was there. The Summer vacation was often spent with my family in my fathers home in Skjolden. (Western Norway) The sound of water falling from the mountains, long walks and hours in silence made a deep impact on me. In the roaming sound of falling water I learnt to listen to my inner voice. Sometimes I thought I could hear my own name callen out in the roaming water. This is the reason why I like the folk tales and the Norwegian tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe. I have been there, I have seen the goblins, the

ved Eide gård

ved Eide gård

gnomes and the elves. I heard the shriek of Nøkken and met with trolls. This was my first world. I still return to this world in Skjolden from time to I time. And whenever I go there my ears open up and I hear my own name callen out in the roaming water and write down the stories that come to me.

My father did not mean to inspire me to become an actor, a storyteller or any other risky things. In fact, he was terrified when I started to work with drama, theater and storytelling. He wanted me to become a librarian, married to a priest, like an honest person. But without knowing it he lead me on the «wrong» road.

My Father was a hard working man, but some nights I begged him to tell me stories. Whenever I begged for a story, he got very serious and paused for a long while. At last the story came, beautiful, shy and clear. He never told fairytales, only stories from his own childhood in Skjolden. When the story came along, he was actually there, in the story. His words were few and the pauses between the sentences many. In the pauses the images and inner landscapes grew in my mind and in the room between us.

He told me about a childhood with no comforting light between oneself and the darkness outside the door. The grown ups told him about goblins and trolls before he was sent out in this darkness to fetch milk from farmers. They told him so because they believed in an underworld, something was there luring in the darkness and he should watch out! I inherited a world of wild nature, darkness, goblins, elves and trolls. I had to become a storyteller, what else should I have done? Familien Bolstad

I went on, as I grew up, begging him for more stories. Sometimes he told a few things, but I knew he had so much more. One day he suddenly gave me a handwritten book with all his stories from his childhood. He had written them down without telling anybody. It was the most precious gift he ever gave me. No, my father did not want to inspire me, but he inspired me, and he still does. His voice is with me.


The first Theater performance I remember seeing was Shakespeares”Midsummer Night´s Dream”. I was in a way, seduced by this performance which took place in a sweaty gym at school. The actors were professional and came a long way from Oslo with ”Riksteateret”. They performed on the floor with the audience sitting in a circle around them. I watched, listened and smelled. What a miracle. The stinky gym I knew so well from ballgames and other kinds of torture, had been changed into a magic wood with trees and leaves and wonderful creatures. Suddenly Puck approached me with a funny flower in his hand. He spoke to me and asked me to smell. A moment later it exploded in his hand right in front of my nose. I want this kind of theatre: Close, magic and with a funny smell, reaching out and exploding in my face.

I am still wild about Shakespeare, even if we don t know if he really existed. When I studied drama and theatre, Shakespeare was always one of my main themes.
In London, with my son, I went to Shakespeare’s Globe (The reconstruction of The Globe Theater, an elizabethan playhouse from 1599) and saw a fantastic performance played in a very shakespearian, playful and magic way.

I am sorry to say that there aren t many performances I remember in this way. Very seldom theater explodes in my face. But I should mention ”Scrooge” and ”Alice in wonderland”, directed by Kenneth Dean and performed during the eighties in Oslo. The room was small, the audience brave and the actors young.The Globe

I should also mention a magic theater in my neighborhood, Vestfold. Stella Polaris is a mythic theater led by Per Spildra Borg and Merethe Klingen. Their performance on Borrehaugene, Drømmespill (Dream play) was magic and close to nature, history, saga, ritual and dreams.

When I studied drama and theater I was lead into storytelling as an art of performance. Storytelling can be magic and colourful without exploding flowers and reconstructions of elizabethan playhouses. It takes place in the most colourful places of all: the words and the mind. Hmm.

But still … I would like to smell that flower again … I wonder how he did it.

A path goes from Horten to Borre Park (Borrehaugene). Many times I have been walking this way under the leaves, listening to the sea, the wind, the trees and my ancesters. The Borre Park is a mystic landscape with nine moulds. In ancient times kings and queens were buried in these moulds with ships and props. Walking up and down these moulds and hills, sitting under trees thinking about stories and projects to start, made me turn to the old saga stories of Snorre, Saxo and the sagas of Island. The landscape inspired me to make my own versions of the stories. ”Kristin Kongsdatter”, ”Åsa den lyse”, ”Ragnhilds drøm” and many other stories were born here.

From Borre Park the path contiues in to another wood, Fjugstad. Edvard Munch was walking under these trees many a time on his way to his summer house in Åsgårdstrand.
His paintings can be seen in this landscape. MOT SKOGEN was performed during the summer 2013, and took the audience into the wood, along this path of Edvard Munch. Storytelling, dance and music played with the landscape and made magic nights.Tone og Anne

From Borre my path went on to a small church on the south-west coast of Norway. King Magnus was born in Etne. He lived during the 1100-century and was the first king in Norway who was actually crowned by the church. His father, Erling Skakke, ordered this church to be built for his son at Stødle. I was asked to write and tell a story about Kristin, mother of the king, wife of Erling Skakke. Telling the story about a person who really existed in a place where she actually has been, was great. Etne is full of saga and history. The place inspires me to make more stories.

From Etne my path goes back to Horten and Løvøya outside Horten. Here there is another church of stone. It was built on the ruins of a church from the 1200 th century. There is a beautiful well under the trees here. People drop coins and make wishes. It is said that the water has a healing power. When I was asked to do something for schoolchildren about this place, on this place, I was so happy. And I was glad there were so little history. The less history, the more legends and fantasy.cropped-5e147-stc3b8dle_kyrkje_2_foto_atle_aas_thumb.jpg

To do storytelling in a landscape, and know that here on this spot all these things happened, or could have happened, has been an important part of my storytelling the last ten years. It is great.
And it often places me outside in the wind and the rain, playing with the wild nature that I love so much.


maskedans 2The darkness took me by surprise every night on Bali. Suddenly it was pitch dark. It was so different from the soft light of the Scandinavian summernights.
But here the darkness was full of spirits, colours and sounds. Smell of food. Music from a great orchestra of insects. The sound of the drums from the village where gods and heroes woke up every night and danced, sang and played the old stories. Every night there were perfomances at the temple place. There were dance, puppet theatre and mask play. The old stories from Ramayana and Mahabarata were danced and told over and over again. I was a very young storyteller at this time at the beginning of my career. And I wondered if this was real. In this world culture was appreciated, art was important and artists loved. It took me by surprise and it inspired me in several ways.

Visiting other countries and different cultures often makes us see our own country and culture in another light. In Norway the storytellers were drawing lines between theatre and storytelling.
This is theatre – this is storytelling.
This is dance – this is storytelling.
We were defending our artistic independence from theatre with all our energy. In doing so we almost forgot we had maskedansbodies and voices. Storytellers were sitting on their hands because they were afraid of destroying the inner images., or standing awkwardly still in the middle of the stage in honour of the inner images. In the darkness of the nights on Bali I could see how small we were. The body is always there, the stage is all around us, there is music in the body and the voice. If we let it free it will all play and sing with the story.

I was also inspired to look for myth and ritual in my own culture. I took up the runes, the Norse and Christian mythology and the sagastories from Snorre, Saxo and Island. I don´t always agree with the myth so I always try to find my own story in the story. I look for the stories that are not told, the stories behind the lines, the stories of the wife and the children and the slaves. So many others have told the stories of the viking warriors. They can do without me.

These questions are important for me:
Whose story is this?
What gods and heroes am I giving my voice to?
Is there a hidden myth behind what I do now?
In what temple am I playing and singing?

As a performer I am always standing on someones temple place, and there are always some gods and heroes involved. A free artist is never free, but we still have some choices.

This was my last post of artistic challenge. And, yes, it was a challenge. Thank you for following me.