Swedish theater adapts Bible to the stage
STOCKHOLM - Agence France-PresseA play based on the entire Bible will premiere in Sweden this week in what the playwright said on Feb. 9 will be the world’s first attempt to adapt both the Old and New Testaments to the stage.
“It is very exciting. And it is amazing that we have actually managed to do this. It was a gigantic task,” said Niklas Raadstroem, who has spent the past two years working on “The Bible” opened at the Gothenburg Stadsteater in southwestern Sweden on Feb. 9.
“I know Max Reinhardt put up the Old Testament on Broadway in 1936 (The Eternal Road), but we have searched for others who have done both the Old and New Testaments, and found no examples,” he told AFP, adding: “We seem to be the first.”
With 15 actors, three musicians and two extras on stage interpreting around 90 different roles during the four hour and 40 minute play, Raadstroem said he had struggled to draw a continuous storyline from the material.
“This is not just a book, but an entire library of books ... and the different parts often seemed like they were trying to push and pull us in different directions. It hasn’t been easy,” he said.
Writing process of the play
When writing the play, Raadstroem said he had tried to “ignore the past 2,000 years of interpretation history and go straight to the Bible texts, the stories inside.”
It was also important, he said, to approach the material in a serious manner without irony, out of respect for both believers and non-believers, and to interpret it “so it becomes meaningful and relevant to us today.”“I hope to de-dramatise the conflict often seen between the secular and the holy. The Bible is relevant to everybody” in traditionally Christian cultures, Raadstroem said, adding he had yet to see any signs the play would give rise to controversy.The play will show at the Stadsteater several times a week through May 8.