Poor Theatre, Rich Theatre

Layers of Exchange in Two Adaptations of Ingmar Bergman and Paavo Haavikko


  • Teemu Paavolainen University of Tampere




Ingmar Bergman, dramaturgy, Paavo Haavikko, metaphor and metonymy, scenography, theatricality


The article analyzes two Finnish theatre adaptations of Fanny och Alexander, by Ingmar Bergman, and Rauta-aika, by Paavo Haavikko, premiered in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The key question is, how the two works brought the filmic originals’ wealth of material to theatrically manageable proportions, and how the themes of poverty and prosperity were developed by their scenic machineries – a question of theatricality, but also, if you will, of a sort of theatrical exchange: “golden age” to exile or decline in the story-worlds, lavish film to theatrical constraint in production. The first two sections take a specifically economic perspective on the original TV projects and their central storylines; the two final sections address how these storylines were locally woven by the revolving stage and the revolving auditorium used in the theatre productions. On various levels, a playfully “monetary” distinction of metonymy and metaphor is suggested in which metonymic contiguity stands for contextual prosperity (as experience, community, immediacy), metaphoric substitution for relative deprivation (as distance, abstraction, exchange).

Author Biography

Teemu Paavolainen, University of Tampere

Teemu Paavolainen is a research fellow at the Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre, University of Tampere. He is the author of two books with Palgrave Macmillan, Theatricality and Performativity: Writings on Texture From Plato’s Cave to Urban Activism (2018), and Theatre/Ecology/Cognition: Theorizing Performer-Object Interaction in Grotowski, Kantor, and Meyerhold (2012). Work on this article has been enabled by grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and, currently, the Kone Foundation, the latter for a three-year research project humbly entitled “Plural Performativity: Theatrical Models Against the Inversion of Western Thought” (2017–20).


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How to Cite

Paavolainen, T. (2018). Poor Theatre, Rich Theatre: Layers of Exchange in Two Adaptations of Ingmar Bergman and Paavo Haavikko. Nordic Theatre Studies, 30(1), 144–164. https://doi.org/10.7146/nts.v30i1.106927



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