LÄNK is an ongoing project at Riksteatern (The Swedish National Touring Theatre) in which young companies are given the possibility to work with new, specially commissioned plays. The project began in 2010 when we felt compelled to respond to the demand for interesting plays for large companies of young actors in schools and other theatre programs, specifically plays with many female or gender neutral roles. Contemporary plays in Sweden are typically written for small casts. Few classic plays have an abundance of meaty roles for young women. We realized that we might need to commission plays to fill the void. And then we stumbled on The National Theatre’s project, Connections.
The National Theatre in London had been commissioning plays for young companies for almost two decades, ten plays every second year initially, but finally every year. We studied their program, tailored it to fit the Swedish theatre and school systems, and launched our first LÄNK with five new Swedish plays and one play from NT Connections. This was in 2011. It was an instant success. Right now, sixty companies in Sweden are producing one of the plays from our third cycle as we begin to commission a fresh half dozen plays for our fourth.
Open to all ensembles with participants from 15-20 years of age, LÄNK bridges the gap between young amateur theatre and the world of professional theatre in Sweden. The project is national and strives to prepare young people for careers in professional theatre, encourages their involvement in regional and local theatre associations and works to build an active and informed theatre audience for the years to come.
LÄNK is a collaborative project involving many of Riksteatern’s theatre associations, regional theatre consultants, the National Association of Amateur Theatres (ATR) and many of the country’s regional or municipal theatres. The project is designed to take place every second year, a phase of commissioning and play development followed by a year of ensemble rehearsals, performances and regional festivals. The cycle ends with a national festival at Riksteatern and the publication of the LÄNK plays in an anthology.
We enjoy continued collaboration with The National Theatre in London, exchanging experiences and scripts and are part of a growing International Connections network that also includes partners such as Det Norske Teatret in Oslo, Nuori Nättyämö in Helsinki, Teatro Litta in Milano, Culturgest in Lisbon and most recently AFTEC in Hong Kong. We hope to stay intimately involved in strengthening this international community while developing our own project on Swedish soil.
Several of LÄNKs plays are now translated into English and will be used in different international contexts including the possible publication of an anthology in English within the next year. The translated plays are Hyenas by Anders Duus, Gone by Sofia Fredén, Trudy’s True Self by Rasmus Lindberg, It’s a Free Country by Mirja Unge and Bye bye baby by Åsa Lindholm.
Anyone wishing more information about LÄNK or wishing to read any of these plays should take contact with project director, Edward Buffalo Bromberg, at Riksteatern.
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