A Copenhagen theatre company has courted controversy after penning a play based on the convictions of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
Café Teatret has used Breivik’s so-called ‘extremist manifesto’, published online shortly before he killed 77 people in Norway on 22nd July last year, as the inspiration for their drama Manifesto 2083.
The play, directed by Christian Lollike, will see the right-wing extremist’s views performed as a monologue, with Christian Lollike playing the lead role. The announcement has however attracted heavy criticism, as the car bombing in Oslo and the massacre on Utøya Island still sits fresh in the minds of survivors and victims’ families six months on.
Entitled ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence’, Brievik’s manifesto praised Denmark for being “the only Scandinavian country with some spine left”, regarding the “ideological war” against Islam. Many felt that such comments referred to the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti’s (DF) attacks against multiculturalism.
However, Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of DF, was one of the first to speak out against the new production. Writing on her Facebook profile, she said, “I find it deeply embarrassing, distasteful and shameful. 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.”
Also offended by the offering are some of the families and friends of Breivik’s many victims. Ragnar Eikeland, who lost his son at Utøya, said it is, “so offensive that I really have no words”.
“It will be an extra burden for [the victims’ 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 Breivik’s opinions.”
In a written submission to Politiken however, Lollike defended his artistic decision.
“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. Doesn’t theatre – based on Breivik’s manifesto and with the critical and analytical resources of the performing arts – have the right to examine these same questions?” Lollike wrote.