Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Glögg Time Again!

Shortly after Halloween, the neon "Glögg Time" sign goes up at Simon's in Andersonville. It stays up until around Valentine's Day. While glögg is traditionally a Christmas drink, I welcome it's staying power in our cold and dark Chicago. At Simon's they even serve it with a gingerbread cookie. If you're successfully able to break your cookie into three pieces (using your knuckle), good luck will come to you.

I first had glögg in Sweden during the local Lucia festival. It's a ways off, but St. Lucia Day usually falls on December 13th. I'm sure there will be a handful of celebrations in Chicago. They usually involve candles, singing, and lussekatter. Oh man, lussekatter are good.

You can make your own glögg too. There are a bunch of recipes out there, but these look good.
Recipe 1
Recipe 2
Recipe 3

Oh yeah, you get major points if you can pronounce glögg correctly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Found in Translation

We were really really lucky to have Sarah Cameron Sunde, of Oslo Elsewhere and New George, onboard as our translator for Verkeleg/Reality (the Norwegian play in the Nordic Spirit festival).

Sarah is awesome! Click here for more about her.

She also sent us her thoughts on the recent translation process for Gyrid Axe Øvsteng's Verkeleg:

While I was translating REALITY, I made sure to reach out to Gyrid to find out what was most important to her, since sometimes a translator has to choose between meaning and poetry. Gyrid responded that the rhythm was of utmost importance. So I worked from a rhythmic perspective, trying to move her voice into contemporary American English, getting as close as I could with meaning and word choices.

Once I had a draft that I felt solid enough with, I sent it over to Gyrid to read. She responded with several comments and thoughts, which was so useful for completing my next draft. Then, in early September, I was lucky enough to be in Norway and we were able to meet in person. We hashed through several of the challenging parts of the text together. We were able to come up with some new solutions, and I walked away with a better sense of words to search for in the next phase of the translation. I was so happy to have that opportunity to work through a few of those tricky bits together because nuances are what differentiate a good translation from a great translation, and there is always much to be found in the collaboration between playwright and translator.

I came back to the States and completed my final draft that was read in Chicago. A translation always needs time and space in-between drafts so that a translator can approach it with fresh eyes. I am grateful to have had time in-between drafts, the support of Akvavit in Chicago, and a fine collaboration with Gyrid.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nordic Spirit - postmortem at a glance

So Nordic Spirit 2010 is officially over. *sigh of relief* This festival was the first Akvavit Theatre event, and it went as well as we could have hoped. Over the entire weekend, we had 250 people who generously gave their time and feedback, and that's not even including the actors, directors, and volunteers.

We'll be compiling our notes as well as the recordings of the post-show talk-backs. Anyone want to volunteer to transcribe the audio tapes? Tack! We're also keeping an eye out for other feedback about the event. Brendan McCall of Ensemble Free Theater Norway was gracious enough to moderate our post-show discussion for Verkeleg/Reality and recently posted his thoughts here.

Verkeleg is even being considered for other American theatre festivals after its introduction during Nordic Spirit, which, obviously, is very exciting for us. This is a big part of why we formed Akvavit - to get new Nordic plays in front of American audiences.

I forget sometimes, that not everyone has the same Nordic knowledge base as I do. The actors I worked with in the Danish and Icelandic plays mentioned that they knew very little to nothing about Nordic theatre. After the readings, I heard the following:

- Now I'm going to do research...
- I want to know more about Nordic theatre!
- Someone needs to do this play!
- I want to hear about what you're doing next.

Woohoo! So yeah, it feels good. Not only are we working to increase exposure of new plays and playwrights, but we're shining a spotlight on Nordic theatre. We're saying, "Hey Chicago, come take a look at this!" After this weekend, it sounds like Chicago may be interested in what we have to offer. I'm holding my thumbs...

Thanks again to all of the actors, directors, students, playwrights, translators, and scholars who made this festival happen. And a big thank you to everyone who attended! Festival photos and discussion notes are being compiled shortly. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nordic Spirit - how to get to North Park University this weekend.

The theatre at North Park (also called the Lecture Hall Auditorium on campus maps) is located directly behind Old Main at 3225 W. Foster. We'll have signage on campus as well.

You can take the 92 (Foster) bus to Kedzie and you're right there. There is also ample free parking on either Spaulding heading north or Sawyer heading south.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jeppson's Malört and Chicago: a love story

Apparently, Chicago is one of the only places you can find Jeppson's Malört. Malört, a distilled beverage, is the name of a Swedish style of schnapps, flavored with wormwood. The word malört is the Swedish word for the wormwood plant. In the late 1930's Chicago attorney, George Brode, purchased the formula from Swedish immigrant Carl Jeppson.

Jeppson's Malört is certainly not easy to drink (for many), and has been marketed for its "aggressive unpalatability." However, many establishments in Chicago have taken on the challenge of including this self proclaimed "rugged and unrelenting" 70 proof spirit in their drink menus. This article lists a few of the places to try.

Check Jeppson's Malört out on Facebook here.

Here's my favorite find so far: video made by Shawn Rosenblatt of his friends after tasting malört.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nordic =

When I think of "Nordic" here are a few things that come to mind: pear cider, Ikea, silence, sill, hearts, akvavit, Marimekko, and that Nordic blue that I can't describe but could identify on sight.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Want more?

Are you totally into what we're doing? Or just interested in Nordic happenings?

You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Join us in Chicago in October

Nordic Spirit: A festival of new Nordic plays
October 7-10, 2010
North Park University, Chicago

Join us for a festival of script-in-hand staged readings of new Nordic plays from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark in English translation. All five of these plays are being presented for the first time in North America!

Friday, October 8 at 7PM Sweden
Fem Gånger Gud (God Five Times)
by Jonas Hassen Khemiri

Saturday, October 9 at 2PM Denmark
Rødt og grønt (Red and Green)
by Astrid Saalbach
This play opened at Stockholm City Theatre in March 2010, followed by the premiere in April at The Royal National Theatre in Copenhagen.

Saturday, October 9 at 7PM Finland
by Leea Klemola
Ms. Klemola has been described as the avatar of Finnish theatre.

Sunday, October 10 at 2PM Norway
Verkeleg (Reality)
by Gyrid Axe Øvsteng
We're excited about this first time English translation by Sarah Cameron Sunde!

Sunday, October 10 at 7PM Iceland
by Bjarni Jónsson

Location: North Park University--Chicago
3225 W. Foster Ave
$10 per reading/ $25 for series (Students with ID--Free)
for more information, email

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So loon car fee - but what does it mean?

SÅ LUNKAR VI is a traditional Swedish snapsvisa. Swedes sing this song during Midsommar, kräftskivor, and other times of celebration and it usually involves akvavit or other spirit. Since not everyone we know speaks Swedish, we found a way for non-Swedish speaking people to sing and celebrate with us!

So Loon Car Fee is a version that spells out the Swedish words phonetically (in English, really) so anyone can follow along. The words might not make sense, but at least you'll sound like everyone else, right? The point is to have a good time and get to the end so you can skål.

The title roughly translates to "here we go trotting." That's how we feel sometimes.

Fredmans Sång nr. 21

Så lunkar vi så småningom
från Backibuller och tumult,
när döden ropar: Granne kom,
ditt timglas är nu fyllt!
Du, gubbe fäll din krycka ner -
och du, du yngling, lyd min lag,
den skönsta nymf, som åt dig ler,
inunder armen tar!

Tycker du att graven är för djup,
nå, välan så tag dig då en sup,
tag dig sen dito en, dito två, dito tre,
så dör du nöjdare!

So loon car fee sews moaning “Om”
front back in bull her oak two malt,
near turd hen rhubarb: Granny come,
deed Tim Gloss air new volt!
Dew, goo bud fail Dean creek car near-
oak dew, do inkling, lead mean log,
den sure stone imp, some oat day leer,
in noon dare arm hen tar!

Tick her do hot cry van air fur you,
Nobel end sew dog day dough end soup,
dog day send ditto end, ditto toe, ditto tray, so turd you nerd away!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Akvavit or aquavit (English pronunciation: /ˈɑːkwəviːt/, /ˈɑːkvəviːt/; also akevitt in Norwegian) is a flavored spirit that is produced in Scandinavia and typically contains 40% alcohol by volume. Its name comes from aqua vitae, the Latin for "water of life".

Akvavit (the spirit) is quite tasty. Akvavit (the theatre company) is us!

This is our first official post. Woohoo! We're a theatre company in Chicago focusing on new Nordic works (translated from the source languages). We're not talking Strindberg or Ibsen (nothing against them, they have their place in theatre history) - the plays we produce are relevant and fresh, and introduce Chicago audiences to what's going on right now culturally and socially in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.

Our formal mission statement reads like this:

Our mission is to investigate and encourage discussion about what “Nordic” means and how it is perceived through translated theatre performance. The plays we produce will give Nordic countries a strong voice in North America while contributing to the vibrant intercultural theatre scene already thriving in Chicago.

You can find out more about us on our site: