International business school cast brings Greek tragedy to Copenhagen stage

International theatre is probably not the first thing you’d associate with Copenhagen Business School. But newcomers and established performers are hoping to change that with their adaptation of the Greek tragedy Elektra.

International business school cast brings Greek tragedy to Copenhagen stage
Some of the cast of CBS Theatre's 'Elektra'. Photo: CBS Theatre

A cold wind blows – sounds familiar? – across Ancient Greece. The king of Argos, hero of the Trojan war, is dead. The princess Elektra has sworn revenge on his killer, the queen…and her mother. Her opportunity arrives when her brother Orestes comes home to avenge their father.

In the absence of a new season of Game of Thrones this year, Copenhagen Business School's CBS Theatre is offering alternative intrigue and murder in an adaptation of Euripides’ ‘Elektra’.

Despite its ancient origins, some of Elektra’s themes remain ominously relevant today. 

“It is about being so locked on achieving one thing that it ends up being your downfall. Klytemnestra isn't capable of fully taking responsibility for taking away Elektra's father from her and Elektra isn't capable of forgiving her mother,” says Kristine Helms, who plays Princess Elektra. 

Somewhat ironically, Greece is absent from the very international cast of Elektra, which features performers from Norway, Germany, Slovenia, Guatemala, Sweden, Italy and Denmark. 

Director and founder of CBS Theatre, Marley Hasselbach, is himself Dutch. 

“I knew there was this gap at CBS. It was case competition after case competition – not a lot of artsy things. I did a lot of theatre in The Netherlands and transitioned into directing two years ago in Amsterdam. When I moved to Copenhagen, I wanted to continue working with performing arts, and so I started CBS Theatre,” Hasselbach says. 

The CBS production follows in the footsteps of Boeing Boeing, which performed to sold-out audiences in March last year.

Norwegian Jakob Espen plays Orestes, brother to Elektra. Espen is a CBS student studying for an MSc in Business Administration and Innovation Healthcare – and rather new to treading the boards. 

“I wanted to try something new and meet new people. It was mostly the social aspect, really. I was once in a school play, but that was a long time ago,” the Norwegian says. 

Orestes is a rather intense role to play, with a high degree of physicality, which appeals to Espen. 

“I really like the physical aspect of the role. I find that aspect much easier to be comfortable with,” he says.

The cast also features a couple of actors with more experience. Pejman Khorsand-Jamal, who plays the Ward, has trained in cities including New York, Berlin, and London, and appeared on several Copenhagen stages. So, what drew Pejman to join the CBS production? 

“I have been interested in experimenting with Greek theatre for some time,” he says. 

“There is a lot of dialogue in it, which makes it a very different acting experience, and that really appealed to me.” 

The role of Klytemnestra, Elektra’s murderous mother, is played by Annethia Lilballe, who has appeared in numerous radio and TV shows in Denmark. 

“For me, it means sharing my professional experience with people younger than me, which is satisfying and meaningful. We have a wonderful connection and we all do our best to create a great process and result. The level of commitment means a lot,” Lilballe says. 

Two of the cast members, Helms and Victoria Elvirose Rishøj, a member of the chorus, have been so inspired by their positive experiences on the amateur stage in Copenhagen that they are now in the process of looking at acting school options. 

So will our international forces align, or will the evil – perhaps in the form of lights, sound and costume changes – lead us to tragedy? Either way, you’re in for a treat.

Elektra opens on the Stage at Huset-KBH on March 21st and runs until March 25th.

Tickets are available now and can be purchased here.

By Malene Ford 

READ ALSO: Why a Danish 'bloodbath' is coming back to Stockholm, almost 500 years later


Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends

French actors, stage technicians and other members of the performing arts ended a more-than-two-month occupation of the famous Odéon theatre in Paris on Sunday, allowing the show to go on after this week's easing of Covid-19 curbs.

Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends
A picture taken on January 26, 2011 in Paris shows the facade of the Odéon theatre. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

The protesters took down the banners they had slung across the facade of the venue in the Left Bank as they left at dawn, leaving just one inscribed “See you soon”.

“We’re reopening!,” theatre director Stéphane Braunschweig exclaimed on the venue’s website, adding that it was “a relief and a great joy to be able to finally celebrate the reunion of the artists with the public.”

The Odéon, one of France’s six national theatres, was one of around 100 venues that were occupied in recent weeks by people working in arts and entertainment.

The protesters are demanding that the government extend a special Covid relief programme for “intermittents” — performers, musicians, technicians and other people who live from contract to contract in arts and entertainment.

READ ALSO: Protesters occupy French theatres to demand an end to closure of cultural spaces

With theatres shut since October due to the pandemic, the occupations had gone largely unnoticed by the general public until this week when cultural venues were finally cleared to reopen.

The Odéon, which was inaugurated by Marie-Antoinette in 1782, had planned to mark the reopening in style, by staging Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece “The Glass Menagerie”, with cinema star Isabelle Huppert as a former southern belle mourning the comforts of her youth.

But the protests scuppered the first five performances, with management saying the venue was blocked — a claim the protesters denied.

“What we wanted was for it (the performance) to go ahead, along with an occupation allowing us to speak out and hang our banners. We don’t want to stop the show,” Denis Gravouil, head of the performing arts chapter of the militant CGT union, said on Sunday.

Two other major theatres — the Colline theatre in eastern Paris and the National Theatre of Strasbourg — have also been affected by the protests.
France has one of the world’s most generous support systems for self-employed people in the arts and media, providing unemployment benefit to those who can prove they have worked at least 507 hours over the past 12 months.

But with venues closed for nearly seven months, and strict capacity limits imposed on those that reopened this week, the “intermittents” complained they could not make up their hours.

The government had already extended a year-long deadline for them to return to work by four months.

The “intermittents” are pushing for a year-long extension instead.