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A visit to the unique Rosendal Teater

Experience something new, find friends, and grow your imagination. This article was written in partnership with Rosendal Teater.

Alexander Roberts and Pia Martine Faurby Rosenkilde (Photo: Arne Hauge)

At the super international, hyper local performing arts house Rosendal Teater you can do it all, without emptying your pockets. Sometimes it’s even free!

As usual, when I enter Rosendal Teater, the space is in the midst of transformation. I show up just after the annual flagship event, the Bastard International Performing Arts Festival, which attracted over 3000 people and showcased 13 events of all kinds. Sheets hang from the ceiling in one of the sitting areas and there’s a pile of cushions all around.

(Photo: Arne Hauge)

Alexander Roberts, RT’s artistic and general manager, and Pia Martine Faurby Rosenkilde, the communication and marketing manager, explain it was part of RT’s slow transition to becoming a ‘relaxed venue’. The concept revolves around finding the barriers that might keep people of all kinds of different abilities away from attending, such as visual impairment, anxiety disorder, or sensory challenges.

“We use our flagship festival Bastard to do everything we’re working towards times 100. This year we created serene spaces like this and our teenage curators made DIY fidgets with the artists for people to use during shows,” says Alexander. “We want to lower the threshold with everything we do and make it as easy as possible for people to go.” So, what lies beyond the threshold at Rosendal Teater?

Expect the unexpected

(Photo: Arne Hauge)

Bastard – whose tagline is ‘super international, hyper local’ – in many ways represents the core of the theatre’s work. “Our mission is to create a dynamic ecosystem. We’re international, but we have to make sure those exchanges have the deepest possible impact locally. The way you do that is by empowering what’s happening locally first,” says Alexander. “We put things on our stage that wouldn’t happen if we weren’t here.”

The theatre’s programme reflects this through events like [list events that are in the photos we feature along with the article]. Pia joined the team before they moved into the historic Rosendal Teater, when it was still an experimental theatre in a basement downtown. RT has not only maintained the experimental nature of its origins on stage but expanded it to the entire organisation. “It used to feel that we worked from the inside out, but now it’s both ways as we’re bringing the audience in closer and letting them and the artists influence each other,” says Pia.

However, the theatre’s commitment to bold experimentation art raises one important question…

Am I cool enough?

(Photo: Arne Hauge)

There’s no doubt that people who have a passion for art and expression will feel at home at RT. But my first thoughts when I found Rosendal Teater shortly after moving to Trondheim were whether I might be too ‘square’ for this experimental space. “Honestly, I felt the same,” says Pia who didn’t have much experience with performing arts in the beginning. “At first, I kept asking myself after performances ‘Do I like this? Do I understand it?’ and my preferences revolved around that. But now I feel that going to a place like this and just experiencing the art is opening. Its strangeness makes you reflect more and become more tolerant.”

This is why the team tries to strip away the ‘art world’ words and speak in a way that is inviting for new audiences. RT also hosts free, low-key artist chats over soup and has a pay-what-you-can pricing. It’s also home to the Rosendal Kafé, a great bar and café that increases the touch point of the theatre with the people of the city.

(Photo: Arne Hauge)

“The café is a standing invitation to everyone. We’re always making it easy as possible for people to go ‘I might as well!’ when presented with a new experience. It doesn’t have to be life-changing (although it can be), because there’s so much value in a fun and even strange night out,” says Alexander.

After a few visits to Rosendal Teater, I can definitely agree with Alexander and Pia that there are unique experiences to be had in the theatre. And what I’ve slowly realised is that it isn’t about getting out of your comfort zone, but rather allowing Rosendal Teater to expand your horizons in a comfortable way.

This article originally appeared in The List Summer Magazine 2023 and was written in partnership with Rosendal Teater.


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