Interview with Sweden’s Ambassador, Svante Kilander, as the Embassy hosts its first Nigerian theatre production of Swedish playwright, August Strindberg’s Dance of Death 1. Kilander spoke to Books &Art of the country’s dedication to the promotion and exchange of culture via literature.
How did you get to host this production at the embassy?
I have known Jerry (the producer) for a couple of years and we have been discussing if it could be possible to cooperate on something like this and (a lot of furniture that we have moved around and it turned out to be a convenient stage) the embassy itself that triggered the idea to do this. We discussed which play would be the better suited to the make-shift stage that wouldn’t include too many actors [and decided on the Dance of Death 1.
What more is the embassy doing to promote culture in Nigeria?
About a year-and-a-half ago, we had a seminar and workshop in Nigeria on children’s literature. This year we are having this. From time to time we do things like this. We are just two years in the city and we hope to do more over time.
Having seen the culture of the people, what do you think about their approach to theatre?
We had about 60 people in the audience today, so we have about 120 very dynamic culture personalities in dramatists, journalists, actors and the production also viewed at the Nigerian Law School, Bwari and Baze University. We need to get into contact with these people. As you may have noticed, there are not many expatriates here; we organized a production such as this is to reach out to the Nigerian audience. The expatriates are not the target of this event. Today’s event is an introduction of Swedish literature to Nigeria, in a manner that makes it easy for people to follow events explicitly.
How will this work both ways, so that what is being done here can be replicated by Nigerians in Sweden?
Well, I think that Chinua Achebe, Soyinka and Chimamanda [Adichie] are very well known in Sweden and they have a lot of readership over there. Thus, Nigerian culture is not alien to the Swedes. That is why I think it is interesting to have a Swedish (literature) playwright’s work performed by a Nigerian theatre group.
How does the embassy intend to sustain this?
We will discuss it more with Jerry, because we have a lot of contemporary playwrights who I’ll like Jerry to look at and, maybe, we can do another production, next year. The three main actors were good. I have read this play many times in high school.
What did you think of the translation?
It was a good one. Certain things were emphasized and that is what art is all about.
How would you rate the play, on a scale of one to ten?
It was a very good performance. I don’t know; a ten, perhaps.
Culled from: www.leadership.ng