Right now, I´m working my ass off in the theatre, where I´m part of a play that opens this saturday at
Det Norske Teatret in Oslo. The play is called Mourning Becomes Elektra (or Sorga kler Elektra in Norwegian), written by the American playwright Eugene O´Neill. It´s a rewrite of the oldest surviving play in the world, a Greek tragedy called The Oresteia, written by Aeschylus. He wrote it about 2.500 years ago, and the premiere was at the Festival of Dionysus in 458 BC. Pretty cool.

Starting off with a man and his son coming home from the war (King Agamemnon coming home from the Trojan War in the original play, and General Ezra Mannon coming home from the American Civil War in O´Neill´s updated version), the play features plenty of adultery, incestuous love, ice cold revenge and murder.

And in this staging, music is also a big part of the play. There´s a live jazz trio on stage, consisting of Steinar Nickelsen on B3 organ and analog synth, Erik Nylander on drums, and yours truly on the guitar. The reportoire is varied to say the least, spanning all the way from classic jazz ballads via The Doors and Deep Purple to freely improvised experimental soundscapes. It´s a lot of fun, but also very challenging: everything has to be totally in tune, everyone has to breathe the same rythm for the whole thing to work. The actors do the singing, but it´s nothing like a traditional Broadway musical.

Instead, we´re aiming for a seamless synthesis of music and text, sometimes performing dialogue, song and music simultaneously. Sound confusing? Yep. When we started rehearsing, it was really confusing. But we´re starting to get the hang of it now. It´s all about listening and being present in the moment: we musicians have to know the text well enough to understand what drives the actors and their characters, and they have to listen to the music and let us in. When we pull it off, it´s a magical experience. If you get the chance, come check it out. It´s something else.

Some snapshots from the rehearsals (you´ll find more and better photos if you click the links above):

PS! Saw the cover design for Season One today. Looking really sharp! Stay tuned for final release date…


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