The Jewish Theatre

Culture & Society

The Jewish Theatre in Stockholm, exixted 1995 to 2015. Working in what was originally a 19th century skittle alley in Stockholm’s royal park, Proventus enabled Pia Forsgren, Theatre manager and Artistic director with a distinguished background in classical theatre, to develop a Jewish Theatre. It became a challenging and experimental stage for the exploration of definitions of contemporary drama and performance. Under Forsgren’s leadership, the theatre specialized in integrating environments with its performances, making use of architecture, and technology as well as live performers. Rather than rely on a regular repertoire, the Jewish Theatre commissioned or choreographed works that continually reconfigure the theatre space. The productions of the Jewish Theatre used the whole of the building, blurring audience and performance space, abolishing not just the proscenium but the idea of a stage too, close to performance art.

Forsgren’s view of the theatre moved away from the formal conception of drama, and into a series of intense mixed media performances drawing on music, sound and light as well as text. The theatre has worked with existing plays, as well as specially commissioned pieces. Departing from the traditional model of theatres that have to carry the weight of a permanent company, and a conventional model of long production runs, she mounted a wide variety of very different productions for short periods. She collaborated with a rich variety of writers, musicians and performers as well as video artists and dj:s to create her performances. All presented in the intimate surroundings of the theatre to audiences sometimes numbered in hundreds rather than thousands, a privilege that was made possible by Proventus which freed it from the constraints of commercial theatre. The space itself was designed for maximum freedom, allowing it to be constantly transformed from one performance to the next, and allowed the theatre to blur the boundaries between one cultural form and another.

In spring 2013 Pia Forsgren and Proventus announced that a new path is entered, and that the actual theatre building will close.

-I have fulfilled my task, sayd Pia Forsgren, which was to introduce innovative performing arts in a Jewish context, at our beautiful stage on Djurgården.

-The Jewish Theatre has won an important and faithful audience, warmly applauding on all sides. Such a response gives strength and has encouraged my ambition to create artistic spaces that give hope for a democratic society and bridges the isolation of individuals and groups, Pia Forsgren concludes.