Tereza Hofová, Jan Cina, Þóranna Dögg Björnsdóttir, Aid Kid
The theatrical adaptation of the novel Mánisteinn, or The Moonstone in English, is a continuation of the successful Czech-Icelandic theatre project Skugga Baldur, which won the Theater News (Divadelní noviny) Alternative Theatre of the Year Award in 2016 and is still being performed at Studio Hrdinů in Prague.
This time around, the Czech-Icelandic creative team and its partners aim to create a platform for an open discussion on the living conditions and rights of the queer community in Iceland, but especially in the Czech Republic. The perception of sexual minorities by the heteronormative majority society is still burdened with certain stereotypes, false ideas, prejudices and clichés, which are often and significantly reflected in the way the LGBT community is portrayed in the context of theatre and film production.
The attempt to shift this perception themes stems naturally from the production’s literary source; Sjón’s novella Mánisteinn (Moonstone: The Story of the Boy Who Never Was). While the focus here is on the inner experience of the world through the eyes of a lonely boy whose fate is determined by his sexual orientation and lack of family background, the main and pervasive motif is the freedom and independence of an individual who accepts his “otherness” – “hinsegin” in Icelandic – as natural and realizes the possibility to live as an autonomous human being, regardless of the evaluations and judgments of those around him.
The story is set in Reykjavik in 1918, the last year of the First World War, when Icelanders are celebrating the victory of a centuries-old struggle for independence, while at the same time the Spanish flu epidemic is breaking out and the Katla volcano erupts. In this liminal moment of life-threatening, permanent movement, and the regrouping of forces, the story’s two main character, the boy Máni (the Moon) and the girl Sól (the Sun), meet. The thematic storyline of the theatrical adaptation of Mánisteinn thus follows the platonic, yet intense and fateful relationship of this central couple. Mani and Sól represent two poles, the inverted and interconnected male and female principle contained simultaneously in a dual being – the unbridled Irma Vep, the heroine represented by the real-life actress of the silent film era, Musidora, famous for her androgynous appearance. Another essential motif is the beginning of film screenings and the establishment of the first cinemas in Reykjavik, where the boy Máni finds refuge and discovers his passion for film.
Tjarnarbíó (the Icelandic Performing Arts Centre) and Samtökin ‘78 (the National Queer Association of Iceland) are project partners. Thanks to collaboration with these two organizations, the facilities and space for the performance of the production in Iceland and the entire accompanying program will be provided. A series of public discussions with the audience led by literary scholar Ásta Kristín Benediktsdóttir who is specialised in Icelandic modern literature is particularly noteworthy.