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How to Tell Love Stories. Honestly.
Playwright Nora Bryde Gjertsen on how to write a love story with both the thrill and the sting.

Nora Bryde Gjertsen is a young, new playwright. Her latest production “Bumpy”, playing at Akershus Teater, follows a young woman Pia (Bryde Gjertsen) – a clumsy, brave person who strikes up a bumpy romance with fellow student Philip (Sindre Bråthen Tjørsvaag), who already happens to be in a relationship. Benedicte Søreng wonderfully doubles as a Disneyesque fairy godmother and as Pia’s co-conspiring best friend. The play is about the struggle between what the heart wants, and what common sense would rather have you do.

Playwright-actor-producer. Nora Bryde Gjertsen as Pia and Sindre Bråthen Tjørsvaag as Philip in Bryde Gjertsen’s latest play Bumpy, in which she contradicts the Disney princess version of life with real-life awkwardness. (Photo: L-P Lorentzen)

Sound like a cliché? It doesn’t feel like one. So why don’t we ever get tired of hearing about it? Bumpy exemplifies how a good plot line can make any old love story feel original, as the funny and honest tone of voice makes the heartbreak a bit lighter, making us all see our own flaws and weirdness as we chase true love.

The play ridicules the Disney version of true love, and in an interview from stage, conducted by Katinka Rydin Berge, artistic director of Vega Theatre, Bryde Gjertsen says the princess version of love should be challenged more often:

“It´s important because it can give a wrong picture of reality. People don’t always make the right decisions when they’re in love. I want to show it’s pretty normal, actually,” she says.

In the end, Pia and Prince Charming don´t end up together. Instead, they´ve both just evolved emotionally and, hopefully, gotten a little bit wiser for next time. Maybe it was more about standing up for herself and understanding what she needs and wants in a relationship in the end?

“Movies like Sleeping Beauty give you a different image. The prince is a complete stranger, riding through the woods, rescues the princess and sweeps her off her feet. She never even questions the guy before marrying him, and ta-da! they live happily ever after. We need to question how healthy it is to feed this illusion of love to little girls and boys. Reality is quite different, nuanced and complicated. People fall in love with their best friends, they fall in love with two or even three people at once, they never get into relationships, they never get out of relationships, they cheat. Sometimes, shit just happens. I wanted to make a platform where we can talk about those things with young people.”

The audience snickers and agrees. It’s easy to relate. We’ve all dreamed that Mr or Mrs. Right shows up on the door step, eyes locking, heart racing, Dumdamdamdam. The clumsy, flirty dialog and text messages in Bumpy is a different world entirely. The actors, too, have certainly been there before and is able to make the different scenes just a little bit more realistic and fun by being able to stay in the moment and have fun with the dialog.

“The actors play a big part in developing the language. We could figure out how to improve the lines by imagining how we personally would say it. It’s so exciting to work with talented, creative actors that can improvise and make suggestions for a scene. As a director you still have to make decisions and keep the story going forward,” Bryde Gjertsen says.

Writing, directing and producing a play can be confusing and hard work, but has its upsides:

“The different functions somehow fulfill each other. The more I was able to direct, the more I was able to understand what I had actually written. And the more I was able to act, the more I was able to intuitively feel what would be a good direction for the scene. And of course it helps with patient and engaged people around you, that´s been of great help. The collaboration between the actors and co-director and councilor Øystein Ulsberg Brager during rehearsals and going through the scenes together has been absolutely necessary to the development. Without them, the play wouldn’t have happened, so I’m very grateful!”

To Bryde Gjertsen, writing on some level somehow must be based on own experience.

“Writing for me is being able to take basic human feelings from everyday life and imagination and build a relatable universe. Some characters I write about can be based on different people I’ve met: a friend, family, or someone I admire, but it´s more of adding the imagination and a big blend of qualities that I either admire or resent to create different types of personalities. Things we experience is never black and white. We need to remember that relationships are about making choices and responsibility to make it work and that it´s totally Ok to mess it up sometimes. ”

 

Cliché or not cliché. The Disney version of true love, embodied by Benedicte Søreng , is due for a correction. (Photo: L-P Lorentzen).

 



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