The culture week in Bengtsfors 2018 was introduced at the open-air Theater in Billingsfors on July 21. Sara Vogel-Rödin, culture manager in Bengtsfors municipality, made the opening speech. Per-Åke Hall talked about the history of the open air theater and then there were two theatrical performances. A new version of a previous chronicle play about the long history of Billingsfors Factory was performed by the local theatre company. And finally, Kulturföreningen Strömmar in Dalsland made a short performance introducing itself to the local audience.

This was Kulturföreningen Strömmar in Dalsland’s first event.The cultural association was still in its infancy when we were asked to be part of this Bengtsfors summer event. But we already worked efficiently. We had studied parts of the local history and we had read about the water spirits Näcken and Sjöråa as rulers of nature in ancient popular belief. We had interviewed people in Laxarby about events in mills and rapids. And when our first script was finished, we had exactly four weeks until the performance was going to take place.

Johanna Nordling Kuusisto and Rebecca Lager. The place is the classic open air theater in Billingsfors. Photo: David Dickson

Johanna Nordling Kuusisto and Rebecca Lager took on he task with us, Tania and David. Towards the end, we also engaged Michael Mentgen from Fröskog’s Östersbyn.

We staged a nice little show. Rebecca, as introducer of our Cultural Association, was interrupted by the evil water spirit Näcken’s voice from nowhere, which made her wonder if the whole of reality might be a fairy-tale. In that fairy-tale mood, Mats i Låbyn’s grandfather Georg Erhard rose from his grave and told about how he’d been on the point of drowning that time back in the 1930s when the dam of the water wheel broke. His tale and dance set the scene for the wise and powerful Sjöråa revealing Näcken’s responsibility for the accident and to tell us how she saved Georg from the flooding water.

Thus the image of nature as animated by spirits was drawn. Spirits of nature that both help and thwart human endeavours were suggested as part of a faith that had existed for eons, alongside both Aesir faith and Christianity. Finally, Michael Mentgen told about liberating dance as a method of opening up for the imagination. As a whole, this short performance gave the audience a picture of how Kulturföreningen Strömmar i Dalsland wants to work, creating artistic events. 

Casting:

Presentation: Rebecca Lager. Näcken, the Evil Water Spirit: David Dickson. Sjöråa, the Water Nymph: Johanna Nordling Kuusisto. Georg Erhard: David Dickson. Director: Tatiana Pismenskaya.

Georg Erhard enters the stage. Photo: Tatiana Pismenskaya