Since the mid-1980s, Lars Norén has been Sweden’s nationally and internationally most played dramatist. His plays frequently provoke debate, but are nevertheless praised by audiences and critics alike. Norén is a prolific writer and is constantly exploring new formal idioms. The dialogue and an acute perception of spoken communication are characteristic of his work. Lars Norén made his debut as a poet at 19, with Syrener, snö (Lilacs, Snow), and as a dramatist in 1973 with Fursteslickaren (The Prince-Licker). His real breakthrough as a dramatist came in 1982, with his semi-autobiographical Natten är dagens mor (Night is the Mother of Day),followed by Kaos är granne med Gud (Chaos is the Neighbour of God) in 1983.
With Personkrets 3:1 (Category 3:1) he stepped away from the restricted milieu of the family and took to the streets of Stockholm and the social outcasts, the ones who don’t have a voice in today’s society; a locked institution with prisoners who have committed serious crimes. The play was criticised, discussed and debated, since it contained partially documentary material from the lives of actual prisoners – who participated on stage.
In Skuggpojkarna (Shadow Boys) Lars Norén pursued his renderings of the environment and conditions in prisons and moved them into the public debate. The play November, which premiered at Det Norske Teatret in Oslo in 2001, directed by Lars Norén, is about death. The style is different, with a dreamier, absurd, existential tone. The same theme recurs in the one-act play Kommer och försvinner (Comes and Disappears), a fragmented, low-key, at times very comical, conversation about life and childhood. Lars Norén’s most recent drama, Still Waters, is yet another play in his series on the theme of death. It was played for the first time in Berlin in spring 2002, titled Tristano, and directed by Lars Norén himself. It played in Sweden in an adaptation titled Still Waters.
Lars Norén has been one of the artistic directors of Riks Drama at Riksteatern since 1998.
Photo Joakim Strömholm