Breivik play creates a stir

Café Teatret artistic director says arts have a right to search for answers

With the memory of the Utøya massacre and Oslo bombing still fresh on many peopleÂ’s minds, a local theatre company has created an uproar by planning ‘Manifesto 2083Â’, a play based on the views of the man behind the attacks, confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik. 

Christian Lollike of Café Teatret is using Breivik’s manifesto as the starting point for a play. The manifesto, entitled ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence’, outlines Breivik’s extreme right-wing, anti-Islamic views.

The play will be directed by Lollike and feature actor Olaf Højgaard performing as Breivik and delivering the manifesto as a monologue. The announcement of the play has come under heavy criticism, but Højgaard explained to Politiken newspaper that best way to deal with last summer’s tragedy is to approach it head-on.

Many accused Lollike of trying to exploit a tragedy. One of the people to speak up against the play most vehemently was Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti (DF).

“I find it deeply embarrassing, distasteful and shameful,” she wrote on her Facebook profile. “Personally, I would be ashamed to go in and see the show. [Breivik] can sit back and rub his hands together because he gets all the publicity he longs for.”

She added that while she believes people are free to express themselves artistically, she wouldnÂ’t choose this means of expressing herself and that she hopes that Breivik rots in prison.

Brievik’s manifesto praised Denmark as “the only Scandinavian country with some spine left” when it comes to the “ideological war” against Islam – comments many feel were directed towards the policies of DF and its past attacks on multiculturalism.

Ragnar Eikeland, who lost his son at Utøya and is a leader of a support group for family members of victims of the attack, said he found the play “so offensive that I really have no words”.

“It will be an extra burden for [the victimsÂ’ families] to know that it will be performed while the court case is underway,” he told Norway’s NTB news bureau. “No-one should do something that spreads BreivikÂ’s opinions.”

Lollike defended his plans in a written submission to Politiken, saying that the dramatisation could help to answer some of the questions raised by the attack.

“Is it not precisely the task of art to help understand how something so terrible could happen?” he wrote. “Where do we go with our anger, our pain, our frustration and the big ‘why’? How could this happen? What kind of mindset and view of humanity has he filled his mind with, and where does it come from? Writers, journalists and analysts have sought to answer these questions based on the manifesto. They have a right to. DoesnÂ’t theatre – based on BreivikÂ’s manifesto and with the critical and analytical resources of the performing arts – have the right to examine these same questions?”