Úlfhamssaga – A theatrical adventure where a powerful ancient Nordic story is told in a very visual way through dance, music and drama. It was created by María Ellingsen in a collaboration with Nordic artist and was performed by a group of eleven artists, including actors, dancers and a singers. Úflhamssaga was performed for a full house for three months in Iceland in the fall 2004. It was a great success both with critics and audience and received 7 nominations for the Icelandic theater awards for best script, lights, music, costumes, masks, and show of the year. It was invited to Faroe Islands in September 2005 where again it was received with sold out performances and great reviews.
More about Úlfhamsaga
The Story: A story tells us of a King Hálfdán who is under a ghosts spell and changes into a wolf in winter, unable to rule his kingdom. His queen Hildur is fed up and murders her husband and offers her son Úlfhamur the kingdom on the condition that he marries her. He refuses and flees to the forest with his three blood brothers. Queen Hildur puts evil spells on them all. One blood brother meets his untimely death, two fall in love with birds and pursue them endlessly and Úlfhamur disappears naked into the grave of the female ghost Defense, never to return unless a woman is willing to take his place. “Úlfhamur sheds his clothes as he leaves the human world an walks into the arms of the beast that awaits him. He will not be able to return on his own accord…” After many adventures and terrifying trials, the spell is broken by Ótta who sacrifices her self by taking Úlfhams place in the grave. Then together with his sister Dagbjört and Atram the brother of Ótta, Úlfhamur takes charge and they come just in time to rescue the blood brothers, by catching birds who turn out to be women under a evil spell As a group they now unite win the battle with the ghost Defense to save Ótta from a terrible death.
To tell this powerful story about the need to tame the destructive powers of human nature. A story where opposites, dark and light, male and female need to unite to solve problems and insure the victory of good over evil. A story of love in its most beautiful form. A story of incredible adventure as well as great depth and intuition. A brilliant symbolic story about how a disrubted world is healed through love.
The making of Úlfhamssaga
After discovering the ancient material, preserved in verse called “Rímur” María put together a group of Nordic artist; ancient poetry versus dance theatre. She had a vision of a theatrical event in a very stylised form where we hear music with a very primitive Nordic tone while the story unfolds in strong visuals, dance and drama. “Rímur” being the tradition of telling a story through the singing of poetry gave us a starting point in music and rhythm which is quite unusual.
The original group of collaborators
From Iceland: María Ellingsen actress/director, educated at the Experimental Theater wing of New York University.
Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson who is an artist and set designer
From Faroe Islands: Eivör Pálsdóttir, young powerful singer with very strong roots in her tradition of Rímur.
From Finland: Rejo Kela, a unique experimental dancer who usually creates his own performances out in nature.
We worked together on finding a form for the piece where dance, music, visuals and drama could meet. Then we did a workshop with the performers improvising with the material and then a light designer, costume designer, video artist and a mask makers came on board to participate in creating the world of Úlfhamssaga. And as we had hoped, the outcome was a unique very un-naturalistic production, which brought the audience on an exiting and heartfelt journey into another world.