This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Kirsten Franklin of Akvavit Theatre. Since its beginning, Akvavit has been busy commissioning translations of contemporary Nordic works, staging readings of Nordic plays, and launching fully-staged productions. Akvavit Theatre embraces inclusivity and diversity and as an itinerant theatre can be found all over the City.
“That’s the joy of theatre to me, the collaboration of a bunch of people coming together to create art.”
– Kristen Franklin
Listen to Episode 65 with Kirsten Franklin!
Here are some references from Episode 65 that you may want to check out:
- Kirsten was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and has lived all over since then. She’s been in Minnesota, Kentucky, New York, Florida, and even aboard before landing in Chicago nine years ago.
- The first production that Kirsten was in was a stage performance of M*A*S*H when she was in middle school.
- Akvavit Theatre was founded in 2009 by Bergen Anderson and Chad Eric Bergman. They met at a swedish language camp and were able to get a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (the Bank of Sweden’s Tercentenary Foundation) in order to start the theatre.
- Kirsten joined the theatre in 2011 when she was cast in their first full production, called Red and Green.
- Akvavit has always wanted to settle down in Andersonville due to the fact that both company and neighborhood have nordic roots.
- The theatre has seven full time company members, as well as 10 associate company members. They also work with a lot of outside artists, who they have gifted the title “friends” on their website. Learn more about the full Akvavit Ensemble here.
- The past year Akvavit performed at places like the Swedish American Museum (5211 N Clark) storefront and the Andersonville Galleria (5247 N Clark). Those plays were commissioned from a business in Denmark, who works with writers throughout the Nordic countries, specifically for Andersonville. Akvavit hopes to keep doing these site specific performances again in the future.
- Kirsten and Akvavit as a whole think that immersive theatre is important, as the audience can see and feel everything the actors are doing. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it leads to feeling like a part of the performance, which is something you can’t achieve from a stage.
- Akvavit’s second Annual Benefit Concert “A Little Night of Nordic Music” will be on June 24 at 7PM, hosted at the Swedish American Museum. Learn more here. There, they will be announcing their next season of plays and readings. Of course, there will also be a great performance of Nordic music!
- A typical day for Kirsten, as a co-artistic director, professor of theater, and a mother of two is a little crazy. At Akvavit, her job is all volunteer based, meaning she can work on what needs to be done when she finds time for it.
- American theatre stopped with realism, much like a living room drama. However European theatre tends to be a little less linear. Akvavit also leans into three big Nordic elements: the power of silence, being comfortable with ambiguity, and negative space.
- Because Akvavit doesn’t have a performance space of their own, set design can be difficult. They try to pick a location that works well with the play, and if that isn’t possible they make sure to design the set for the place they’re able to use.
- If given the chance to switch with an Andersonville business for the day, Kristen would love to switch with places Candyality (5225 N Clark), and would be snacking on anything gummy. If not Candyality, she would pick George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N Clark), and loves the pretzel cone.