There Is Nothing Like a Dane

Hotel Pro Forma and the Odin Teatret

Odin is marked by both the intense physicality of their training and performances, and by their world travels, during which they mount shows and "barter" performances with the local populaces. At La MaMa, the company will offer demonstrations of their work process— for dollars, not trade— and present seven different plays: Mythos, Ode to Progress, Doña Musica's Butterflies, White as Jasmin, Itsi Bitsi, Judith, and The Castle of Holstebro II.

Operation: Orfeo: That Ol' Flat Magic
photo: Roberto Fortuna
Operation: Orfeo: That Ol' Flat Magic

Though the two companies once created a performance together, Hotel Pro Forma's dreamy visuals and the Odin's more earnest physicality draw quite a contrast. Direct comparisons aren't exactly fair, but casual conversations around Copenhagen indicate a current drift away from the Odin, which is seen by some as representing Danish theater's past more than its future. Thirtysomething Danish playwright Jens Albinus, who once studied with the Odin, describes the group as "like a monastery" and believes Danish theater has moved on. His History of Infamy— a sharply acted riff on bourgeois complacency recently performed at Copenhagen's downtownish Kaleidoskop theater— shares some of the Odin Teatret's physicality, but has a clear '90s edge. Well-regarded playwright Astrid Saalbach says the Odin Teatret "reminds me of how naive we once were." With both companies in town, New York audiences have the opportunity to make up their own minds— though longtime Odin actor Jan Ferslev offers his own analysis of the state of Danish theater: "If you only go with what's fashionable," he notes, "you're fucked."

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