EU Collective Plays

Kort om prosjektet

THE COLLECTIVE PLAYS! aims at promoting the creation of plays which are the result of a collaboration of playwrights of different nationalities.

The playwrights meet and cooperate to create a narrative structure which is organic but at the same time incorporates different perspectives, styles, languages and idioms.

In this dimension, the final play’s draft is entrust to one playwright who never tries to homologate the different styles but, on the contrary, tries to highlight their contrasts by creating a collective narrative structure which resembles a cubist painting.


  • Promoting international cooperation between playwrights and theatre organizations of different nationalities in the creation and staging of collective plays in order to internationalize and/or strengthen their international reputation, careers and activities at a European and global level
  • Testing an enlargement of theatre audience by the diffusion of narratives characterized by “internal dialogism”
  • Stimulating the interest of audiences in European creative works by enlarging the idea of European citizenship through polyphonic plays
  • Testing new forms of manageable transnational theatre groups and productions
  • Staging showcase of Collective Plays within an important European Festivals

Prosjektleder hos KHiO: Gianluca Iumiento

Mer informasjon:

Project log


Forming the artistic committee

In 2015, Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo (KHiO) initiated a series of meetings wherein we analyzed the logistics of the different tasks associated with our participation in the EU Collective Plays project. KHiO, like many similar institutions, possessed sufficient administrative resources to administer the European project; however, at the time, we did not have a specialized department with the specific competence to successfully bring the project to fruition.

In our first meetings, we attempted to separate the tasks between outright administrative tasks and artistic tasks. We decided that Merit Kristiansen, who is in charge of accounting at KHiO, would take charge of the financial documentation of the project.

In August 2015, we established an artistic committee designed to discuss Castagno’s theories and ideas around Polyvocality, and then to subsequently administer the different workshops that comprise the EU Collective Plays project. The committee includes: Gianluca Iumiento (playwright, actor, and director), Øystein Stene (novelist, playwright, director, and dramaturg), Jesper Halle (playwright), and Tale Næss (playwright and dramaturg). The group gathers periodically to read plays and to discuss them within the framework of Polyvocality.

The selected plays discussed come not only from projects that the four committee members are developing in their individual artistic practices, but also from the tradition of plays written in the northern European countries.

The committee’s goal is to discuss how the polyvocal playwriting develops within the framework of Scandinavian theater, how directors respond to polyvocal texts in practice, how both actors and directors read polyvocal plays, and finally, what strategies are implemented to stage polyvocal material. The committee held meetings at KHiO, in Denmark (in 2016), and it has continuing dialogue concerning the numerous activities of the EU Collective Plays project.


Master's Projects on Dialogism and Polyvocality

The Master’s Degree Theatre students at KHiO – including: directors, actors, playwrights, set designers, and costume designers – engaged in an eight-week workshop, guided by Jesper Halle and Petter Width Kristiansen, where they discussed the theories of Polyvocality and dialogism. Using the practical exercises from Castagno’s book, New Playwright Strategies, they developed three texts, which they then staged at the end of the workshop.

The resulting projects discussed Polyvocality as a result of the interaction between the different theatrical entities: The writer reacted to the room created by the set designer, the actors transformed the text through improvisation, the directors practically developed new text using device techniques that the writer then implemented into the existing play.

At the conclusion of the eight-week project, we debuted the plays for public audiences at KHiO, with free admission. The three shows were:

Speiderjenter (Girl Scouts) written by Hanne Ramsdal; directed by Ludvig Uhlbors; with actors Sarah Macdonald Berge, Karin Klouman, and Tarjei Westby; costume design by Matilda Söderling; and set design by Tora Troe Gudmunsen.

Kauk, a musical written by Siri Broch Johansen; directed by Martin Lotherington; with actors Arturo Tovar, Lina Hindrum, and Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfinnsen; and set design of Signe Gerda Landfald.–3URtQ

Alekanuk (Wrong Place) written by Maja Bohne Johnsen; directed by Eirik Fauske; with actors Kjersti Aas Stenby and Morten Espeland; and set design by Mari Lotherington.

Hybrid Plays

In May 2016, we had our first workshop centered on “Hybrid Plays”.

We selected three plays written by established playwrights from Norway, Italy and Montenegro, and we asked three young writers, each under 30 years-old, to write new versions of the existing work. The goal was to create an active dialogism process between two writers of two different nations, and across two generations.

Our goal was to answer the questions: How does one adapt a play from one cultural and social context to another? What specific adaptations are required to convert the spoken dialogue into a new language?

Each writer responded to the task in different ways. One writer developed and wrote an imaginative dialogue between the original playwright and herself. Others wrote completely new scenes inspired by the events and characters of the original play.

The first title the workshop explored was Who the Hell Started All This (The Hurtling Stillness) written by Dejan Dukovski, then rewritten in Norwegian by Agate Øksendal Kaupang. The play was directed by Øystein Ulsberg Brager with actors Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfinnsen, Sarah Macdonald Berge, Lina Hindrum, Karin Margrethe Klouman, Kjersti Aas Stenby, Arturo Tovar and Tarjei Westby.

After a dramatic reading of the text, Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento moderated a debate about Polyvocality and Hybrid Plays with both the audience and the artists involved. We used this opportunity to disseminate central aspects described by Paul Castagno in his book to the audience about the topic of Hybrid Plays.

That same performance of Who the Hell Started All This was further workshopped by some of the actors, without the original director, in August 2016. The actors that continued to work on Who the Hell Started All This were Tarjei Westby, Karin Klouman, Sarah Macdonald Berge, and Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfissen, and the work was directed during the second workshop by Arturo Tovar.

The resulting staging crafted during the second workshop was shown at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, Italy during the OUTIS Tramedautore festival on Saturday, September 17, 2016. Gianluca Iumiento worked as the project’s dramaturg during our time in Milan.

The second Hybrid Plays project was Fritiden eller mørke er lys, rewritten by Jovana Bojovic from Gian Maria Cervo’s original play, The Free Time. The text was adapted into Norwegian by Jon Kværne. The project was staged at KHiO in October 2017, directed by Herman Bernhoft, with actors Olavus Frostad Udbye and Petter Winther Gåre.

The show was followed by a debate between the Italian author Gian Maria Cervo, the artists involved, and the audience about Polyvocality and Hybrid Plays. This debate was moderated by Gianluca Iumiento.

The third Hybrid Plays project was Da Saltet ikke var den eneste krystallen, rewritten by Joele Anastasi based on Jesper Halle’s play Lille Skogen. The text was adapted from the original Italian into Norwegian by Nelly Winterhalder.

The show took place in Oslo at KHiO in October and was directed by Nelly Winterhalder, with actors Maria Omarsdottir Austgulen, Kim Jøran Olsen, Eva Ragnhild Jørgensen Tysse, Ragnhild Meling Enoksen, Leo Magnus de la Nuez, and Kristine Cornelie Margrete Hartgen.


During the month of August 2016, KHiO master’s degree acting students traveled to Viterbo, Italy, to devise three new plays. The actors worked with three writers: Tale Næss, Nelly Winterhalder, and Maja Bohne Johnsen. These three plays were staged collectively under the title, The Moai Project. The show played in different locations in Vitorchiano (VI), Italy.

Moai was a site-specific project, where three different playwrights wrote three unique texts starting from a common theme, and using three connected locations in the same town. In the end the show was staged as a single performance where the audience moved from one location to another perceiving the differences between the dialogues and texts, the acting styles, and the locations.

The three texts presented were:

Sfuggendo written by Maja Bohne Johnsen, with actors Karin Klouman, Per Vidar Gornitzka Anfissen, and Tarjei Westby.

Corridors and Rooms written by Tale Næss, with actress Sarah Macdonald Berge.

Per alltid slutter altid written by Nelly Winterhalder, with actors Arturo Tovar and Lina Hindrum.

The Moai Project was co-produced with the Festival Quartieri dell’Arte in Viterbo. The festival was responsible for most of the video, photographs, attendance tracking, and web documentation for the event.

Det er Ales

In September 2016, the Festival Quartieri dell’Arte di Viterbo also co-produced the project, Det er Ales. The show premiered in Italy, in both Norwegian and Italian. Following the performance in Viterbo, Det er Ales played at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. The project was directed by Gianluca Iumiento based on Jon Fosse’s novel of the same name.

The novel was adapted for the stage by Maria Sand. Maria works using techniques from Castagno’s book to deconstruct and recombine the text from literature forms to theatrical forms. The result is an interesting Polyvocal text where the characters talk to each other exclusively in the third person.

Det er Ales was co-produced with Det Norske Teatret in Oslo where it was later performed in Italian by Gianluca Iumiento, Maria Sand, and Daniela Giordano; and in Norwegian, by Maria Sand, Elisabeth Sand and Oddgeir Thune.

The play joined the Det Norske Teatret repertory from January 2017 until the end of May 2017.

Darkness – The Enemy Inside

During the fall of 2016, KHiO established the writing group, the Nordic Group, to produce a Polyvocal text titled, Darkness – The Enemy Inside. The group is composed of five playwrights: Tale Næss (head writer and dramaturg), Gianluca Iumiento, Sigbjørn Skåden, Kristin Eriksdottir, and Albert Ostermeier.

The group will also collaborate with some external dramaturgs with competence in different languages, due to the fact that our authors intend to produce texts in five different languages: Norwegian, Sami, Islandic, German, and Italian. Daniela Giordano and Øystein Stene are among the external dramaturgs that will give feedback on the group’s texts.

The group met at KHiO the first time in December 2016 to kick off the writing project.

The Free Time

As a part of our 2016 activities, KHiO is also co-producing a performance of The Free Time written by Gian Maria Cervo and the Presnyakov Brothers. KHiO has financed the Presnyakov Brothers fee and a part of the expenses related to their writing activity with Gian Maria Cervo. Documentation of the authors’ meetings in Italy was taken by the Festival Quartieri dell’Arte in Viterbo. KHiO will continue in a co-producer function in 2017.

Other activity

KHiO has also participated in co-founding and administration of a writing competition dedicated to the memory of Matteo Latino. Tale Næss and Gianluca Iumiento participated in the selection of the texts and their authors that won the competition, and KHiO supported financially the event.

In November 2016, KHiO hired Rose-Marie Aker as Personal Assistant of Gianluca Iumiento, administrative coordinator of the activities of KHiO within EU COLLECTIVE PLAYS and further Producer of Oslo International Acting Festival.

Rose took the place of Robin Rigels within the project.


Darkness – The Enemy Inside in Icelandic

The Nordic Group continued to meet several times in 2017 to write and further develop their texts. The first meeting was in Reykjavik in February 2017. The meeting was hosted by the City Theater of Reykjavik where the group received a room and facilities in order to work and write.

During the trip to Reykjavik, KHiO introduced the project to one of the theater’s resident dramaturgs. As a result of this residency in Iceland, the City Theater will produce a short reading and performance of the play Darkness – The Enemy Inside in Icelandic language.

The Nordic Group met again in Oslo in May 2017, and for the first time playwright Albert Ostermeir personally attended.

The Free Time workshop

The latest meeting of the Nordic Group was in Oslo in August 2017. During this meeting, the Nordic Group had the opportunity to exchange dialogue and ideas with the group writing The Free Time, due to the fact that both Gian Maria Cervo and the Presnyakov Brothers were present in Oslo workshopping their play.

On August 28th, KHiO organized a reading and presentation of parts of the text for The Free Time. The presentation was open to the public and was followed by a debate moderated by Gianluca Iumiento. Actress Sarah MacDonald Berge performed the reading during the event. We used this opportunity to discuss Polyvocality with both the Presnaykov Brothers and Gian Maria Cervo, and the writers from the Nordic Group, and fostered an active debate between the two writing teams.

Upcoming activity


KHiO is also working on a Hybrid Plays project around the writings of Seneca, the Latin playwright. The project will end in 2018 with a workshop for the KHiO actors exploring the legacy of Seneca’s writing, and researching Seneca particularly as one of the first examples of Polyvocal writing in the history of theater.

Latinist Carla Innesti is working as dramaturg translating portions of the Latin texts. We have also contacted Karl Kristian R. Kirchhoff, an expert Latinist from the University of Oslo who is translating Seneca’s tragedies from Latin into Norwegian.

We are currently having a dialogue with scholar Hans Thies Lehmann, who wrote about Seneca in his latest book The Pre-dramatic Theater.

We are working with two experts from KHiO web administration, Maia Strand and Even Onsager in order to create a dedicated website on where all of the activities and events from the EU COLLECTIVE PLAYS project will be documented and reported.

In October 2017, the Nordic Group will deliver the final draft of their play, Darkness – The Enemy Inside.

Throughout 2017, we have been working on the planning and organization of the Oslo International Acting Festival, which will focus on the theme of Polyvocality and the Polyvocal Actor, or the Actor in Polyvocal Time. 

The festival program will be launched in October 2017 and it will include debates open to the public, international workshops with a closed number of participants, a final writing and staging of the event (called CON-TESTO), readings of a selection of the plays developed under the project EU COLLECTIVE PLAYS including Darkness – The Enemy Inside and The Free Time.


  • Oslo International Acting Festival
  • Seneca Hybrid Plays
  • Staging of Darkness The Enemy Inside
  • Readings and workshops of “The Free Time” and “Darkness – the enemy inside”
  • “Darkness” will be read and presented also at City Theater in Reykjavik and at The Artic Theater in Tromsø.
  • Disseminations seminars in several Folkehøgskoler in Norway
  • Dissemination Articles on different Magazines from Jesper Halle, Øystein Stene, Gianluca Iumiento and Tale Næss