Performing Memoria

A Theatre Performance Giving Voice to Speechless Memories


  • Annelis Kuhlmann Aarhus University



Holocaust narratives, New documentary, Trauma, Amnesia, Oblivion, Performance, Artistic memories, Legacy of silenced victims, Medialization of death-life on stage, Else Marie Laukvik, Odin Teatret


Odin Teatret’s Memoria (1990) centres round an actor’s conflict with the act of remembering. In this article, however, one strand follows Giorgio Agamben’s presentation of “remnants of Auschwitz”, which is based on the story of Hasidic children’s experience of surviving World War II, and how for some survivors, the guilt of surviving while others perished is too great a burden to bear, so much so that suicide seems their only route to peace. A further strand builds on Rebecca Schneider’s ideas about the very act of re-enacting remembrance as a performance, which remains once all living memories of historical facts are gone. On a more specific level, Memoria brings together the narrative of the Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust (1983) with memories from philosophers such as Primo Levi and Jean Améry, with Else Marie Laukvik and Frans Winther giving voice to these speechless memories. Laukvik, who is the author of the Memoria script, also manages to embody the conflict that can arise from remembering in her performance. The article is based on watching Memoria, as well as archive materials, personal interviews, and other performances by Else Marie Laukvik, who is also the author of the Memoria script.

Author Biography

Annelis Kuhlmann, Aarhus University

Annelis Kuhlmann, is associate professor, PhD, at Department of Dramaturgy, Aarhus University, Denmark. She has published on Odin Teatret’s productions. Together with Dr Adam Ledger, Birmingham University, she published on Eugenio Barba as theatre director in ”The Tree of Performance Knowlwedge” in Paul Allain (ed). Grotowski. Brook. Barba in Great European Stage Directors, Bloomsbury: London 2018. This work has applied new methods and shown a methodology of performing archives, a research in focus of her recent research. She is head of Centre for Historical Performance Practice (CHiPP) and Centre for Theatre Laboratory Studies (CTLS). See also


Agamben, Gsiorgio. 1999. Remnants of Auschwitz: The witness and the archive, Homo Sacer ; 3. New York: Zone.

Améry, Jean. 1977. Jenseits von Schuld und Sühne. Bewältiungsversuche eines Überwältigten. 5th ed. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

Artaud, Antonin. 1958. The Theatre and Its Double. Translated by Mary Caroline Richards. New York: Grove Press. Original edition, Le théâtre et son double.

Bjørneboe, Jens. 1966. Fugleelskerne : Skuespill. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag.

Caruth, Cathy. 1991. ”Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History.” Yale French Studies (79):181.

Eliach, Yaffa. 1980. ”Hasidic Tales and Anecdotes of the Holocaust.” Centerpoint. A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (1):125-130.

Eliach, Yaffa. 1982. ”Holocaust and the new hasidic tales.” Tradition 20 (3):228-34.

Eliach, Yaffa. 1983. Hasidic tales of the Holocaust. New York: Avon.

Fischer-Lichte, Erika. 2008. The transformative power of performance: a new aesthetics. New York: Routledge.

Kuhlmann, Annelis and Ledger, Adam. 2018. ”The Performance Tree of Knowledge. Eugenio Barba.” In Grotowski, Brook, Barba, 145-203. London: Methuen.

Laukvik, Else Marie. 1990. Memoria. Holstebro.

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. 2006. Postdramatic theatre. London: Routledge.

Levine, Peter A. 2006. Helbredelse af traumer: en banebrydende metode til at gendanne kroppens visdom. 1. udgave ed. Valby: Borgen.

Schneider, Rebecca. 2011. Performing remains: art and war in times of theatrical reenactment. London: Routledge.




How to Cite

Kuhlmann, A. (2019). Performing Memoria: A Theatre Performance Giving Voice to Speechless Memories. Nordic Theatre Studies, 31(2), 7–22.



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