The Visit from Little Death

Sissela Benn as the girl Elsewise in The Visit from Little Death. Photo: Johan Sjövall

Sissela Benn as the girl Elsewise in The Visit from Little Death. Photo: Johan Sjövall

 

Lars H Gustafsson

Lars H Gustafsson

Author, paediatrician and former member of the ALMA-jury Lars H. Gustafsson went to see Unga Teatern’s play The Visit from Little Death this week. We asked Lars if we could translate his blog post (published in Swedish here) for the ALMA blog, which he gladly approved of:

Today I’ve been to the theater. The renascent theatre Unga teatern in Malmö gives as its first production La Visite de la Petite Mort (approx. The visit from Little Death), based on Kitty Crowther’s picture book with the same title.

Kitty Crowther received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2010, and La Visite de la Petite Mort is one of her finest books. Talking to children about death can be an experience, enriching for both the child and the adult. Kitty Crowther does it in a tender, playful and surprising way. She really takes children seriously, and I too, as an adult, get warm inside by this story. I have previously written about the book here on my blog, as well as in my book Leka för livet (approx. Playing for life).

The theatre’s version is close to the original but has at the same time, with simple means, been given a free theatrical form that rather enhance both the depth and the playfulness in the story. The three actresses Sissela Benn, Susanne Karlsson and Ellen Norlund portray the girl, the lady and the Little Death accurately and with feeling. I saw the play together with a group of six year olds from Rosengård, who clearly were engaged in what took place on stage. I also want to mention scenographer Erika Magnusson, who found a way to take advantage of the room in an unusually clever way. As well as the thrifty but effective music features autographed Stefan Johansson.

I almost wish that Kitty Crowther could see this show! I think she’d be happy. For director Ada Berger has really captured both the message and the atmosphere of the story. On October 20, at 7 pm, Ada Berger and I will talk about the play and the issues it raises (location: The Studio Hipp, more information here). How can adults help children to grasp ideas that are both staggeringly huge and quite menacing? How do we talk to children and to each other about all this and how can literature, art and theatre be a help on the way?

Cover of Lilla döden hälsar på. Berghs förlag.

Cover of Lilla döden hälsar på. Berghs förlag.

Kitty Crowther.

Kitty Crowther.

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