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100 songs about the meaning of life

Published: 21 April 2021

May 6, is the premiere date of the Theater Academy's exam project, "100 songs" by the German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig. The play is about a terrorist attack on a railway station, but perhaps above all about the beauty of everyday life.

It has been a lot of preparatory work before the students in the last year of the acting program agreed to put on "100 songs". Each of them has on their own scrutinized different pieces whose advantages and disadvantages have been evaluated with the rest of the group. It was the director Martin Rosengardten who proposed the German play based on the different wishes that the students expressed.

– When the proposal came, we agreed surprisingly quickly in the group that this was the play we wanted to play, says Jannie Östergren.

Told from several perspectives

The form of the play makes it well suited as an exam project. There are no main roles, all students are given the same amount of space to show what they have learned during their three years of education.

– The play does not have a single narrator, it is retold from the perspective of several different narrators and all actors share the responsibility of telling the story. All the actors oscilates between depiction, narratiion and contemplation, like a constant flow through the course of the play. One and the same role can be played by different actors. The form places demands on us as actors. Nothing is permanent. You have to listen to them, the rhythm that is in the script and in the interaction between the actors, says Jannie Östergren.

Ivar Forsling agrees.

– Since the script lacks fixed focus points, you have to rely on your peers on stage. Compared to a traditional narrative, it is even more important to take in what happens for the story to stick together

Ivar Forsling makes a parable with music.

– The difference between this play and a traditional narrative is a bit like the difference between a pop song and a work by Stravinsky. One is not better than the other. But in a work by Stravinsky, you have much more that you must relate to than in a pop song.

A bomb attack

The play describes four minutes before a bomb attack on a railway station. The course of events repeats itself from different people's perspectives. They do not know what is to come. Their everyday thoughts and deeds are painted in stark contrast against the dramatic background of the assassination attempt. In contrast, the mundane, what goes on while we are doing other things, is elevated, and charged with a value that springs from the realization that we will all die one day.

– For me, the play is perhaps above all about treasuring life and that the meaning of life is in the small moments, says Ivar Forsling.

The students have created an instagram account where everyone who is interested can follow the production. One of those who follow the account is the playwright himself.


The play is performed in Swedish.