Ashfall: Cinderella’s Prince Charming needs to be gay

A princess who’s brave and resourceful instead of being a passive, pursued object. And a prince who has zero interest in girls. Tonight the Student Theater will stage a brand-new version of Cinderella or rather a consciously anti-Cinderella: Ashfall (i. Öskufall) which addresses queer issues and equal rights. We met with author/director Tryggvi Gunnarson and started by asking why this long-loved fairy tale was in dire need of a drastic make over.

Tryggvi Gunnarson is the director and also author of the play. “I started writing it at a seminar held by The Writers Union of Iceland (i. Rithöfundasamband) a few years ago. Those who led the seminar felt it a bit crude and odd and tried, gently, to steer me in another direction. But I was young and stubborn and said no. In the end participants read scenes outloud for various people in the theater world, and their reactions weren't quite as positive or nice after I had read mine - but I intentionally picked the most gruesome part to read. (Laughs.) Since then I have been working on it and later realized that The Student Theater would be a perfect venue for it, since that theater is unconventional and brave and not bound by certain restrictions, such as how many tickets it has to sell. But the script has mellowed down a bit through the years, simply because it suited the content better.”
Director of Ashfall, Tryggvi Gunnarsson. “I started writing the play at a seminar held by The Writers Union of Iceland a few years ago. Those in charge felt it a bit crude and odd and tried to steer me in another direction. But I was stubborn and said no. In the end participants read scenes for various people in the theater world, and their reactions weren’t quite as positive after I had read mine – but I intentionally picked the most gruesome part to read. (Laughs.) Since then I have been working on it and later realized that The Student Theater would be a perfect venue, since it is unconventional and brave and not bound by certain restrictions, such as ticket sales.”

“Well, not many people know this but the original Cinderella story is a completely different from the version most of us know and versions of the original can be found in various cultures. That story was told by women, to other women, teaching the importance of not betraying women – their fellow sisters – and especially not betraying the family,” Tryggvi explains.

“In those versions Cinderella is often way tougher, sometimes almost cruel and even the one who kills her mother, with the help of the stepmother. But repents when she realizes how much trouble she’s in and through that repent she gets assistance from her mother’s ghost. Often limited help, so she has to be really smart and find out the solution herself.

However through Charles Perrault’s version (1697) and later the Brothers Grimm version (1812), Cinderella’s character is transformed into that silly little thing, pretty and sweet, who gets saved by the prince, because she’s a good girl and does what she’s told. That resulted in the Disney version (1950) which crystallizes that stereotypical gender role which is so damaging to everybody. Unfortunately that’s the version that we let our kids watch every day.

We at The Student Theater (i. Stúdentaleikhúsið) wanted to try to see what happens if we defy this old version of gender roles. What happens if we refuse to accept these rules of beauty and the fact that Cinderella is supposed to be a good and obedient girl. What happens, if instead of a king and queen, there’s a king and king.”

Wait – a queer prince?
“Yes! (Laughs) That is sort of the heart of it all. The play is about being queer. Thankfully in reality the younger generations are always more and more accepting to the fact that being queer shouldn’t be an issue at all. But what happens if you put that non-issue into this stereotypical Disney-fairy-tale world that it doesn’t fit into? In the play we’re dealing with the conflicts that could arise from that and how dangerous stereotypical roles are to us.”

“The biggest problem with popular culture especially Icelandic theater – which seems to be decades behind what is actually happening in Icelandic society – is the queer image.”

Talking about queer issues, do you think that they are addressed adequately in Icelandic theater?
“I’m reluctant to say it, but no. The biggest problem with popular culture especially Icelandic theater – which seems to be decades behind what is actually happening in Icelandic society – is the queer image. In Icelandic theater queer characters are all too often comic figures: “Oh my, they think I’m queer, that’s so funny! Haha!” The audience is supposed to find that so funny, because what is more embarrassing than someone thinking you’re queer?!

Icelandic theater needs more strong female characters and strong queer characters. Plays shouldn’t only portray queer people more often – it’s always a good thing if they do – but the way that they’re portrayed also matters. Simply as that, queer. Not as any sort of issue, just a simple fact, because that’s what it is. Far too often queers are in a play because of some arbitrary factor, not just as characters, as a part of society. That is not done enough. If ever.”

Going back to your own play, Ashfall, would you say it is closer to a drama or a comedy?
“It’s no farce, but there are dramatic scenes along with scenes we hope people will find extremely funny. As with all good stories, it’s a mixture of both.”

“You have to constantly stare at yourself in the mirror and hope that, if you unknowingly let some prejudices take hold of you or sabotage your life, that someone around you points that out to you,” says Tryggvi.
The poster for Ashfall. “You have to constantly stare at yourself in the mirror and hope that, if you unknowingly let some prejudices take hold of you or sabotage your life, that someone around you points that out to you,” says Tryggvi .

A satire maybe?
“Completely! But we don’t want to preach anything. We’re not telling the Icelandic nation how to think or behave. We can’t because we’re not perfect either. We’re not free from these gender roles or images. They’re something that we learned from our parents who also learned them. But, by putting this play on stage, we want to face ourselves, our own childhood, and our society, and make us admit that there is so much wrong going on.

For example, some of us went to the protest in front of the police station last Monday (held because two men charged with rape were not held in custody) and afterwards went to rehearse a scene, written long ago but eerily similar to some of the things going on right now. Like phrases one of the guys has been writing to young girls online. That was tough.

In short, our society has this malady that we want to fight. But at the same time we’re afraid what that could mean. If you cut the wen, what will seep out of it? We at The Student Theater are not trying to pretend to be any better than anybody else. But there is something wrong with our society, and we’re a part of it and we all must try to fix it.”

Tryggvi says that he is however filled with optimism after working with the young people at The Student Theater (i. Stúdentaleikhúsið) and how open they are about equal rights and about queer issues. “This is way more natural to them then when I was their age. Just an example, when I was in high school, I asked for a video camera because I wanted to make a short film but was laughed at and told to play football with the other kids and stop being so foolish. My girlfriend teaches in high school and her students are now making feminist-rap! So we don’t have to worry. The times have changed, for the better I think. This is all changing for the better.”

Talking about younger generations, can children come and see the play?
“No – it’s not suited for children under the age of 12, mostly because of the language and talk about sex, even violent sex. But I truly believe that teenagers would benefit from seeing it. Everybody could benefit from seeing this actually. But to be clear, this is not a children’s play.”

Do you think a children’s version could be made?
“Yes, absolutely. This is an exciting mine-field to step onto! So many of us love these old fairy tales and have no idea about the hidden meaning or agenda they have. Some say that we learn our social values in different stages. First by the “yes and no” from our parents, then from stories and fairy tales, later from horror movies and finally, when we are grown ups from TV-sitcoms. So, to take a popular fairy tale and tell people: “Hey, remember that beloved fairy tale your parents used to tell you? It’s complete bullshit, sorry!” But I don’t think I’m the best candidate to make the children’s version, I’m probably a bit too brutal for that project.”

“There are about 15 actors in all, says Tryggvi when asked how big the production is. “It's rare for a director to get such a variety of talents. Unless you're going to direct "Les Misérables" or work in amateur theater. (Laughs.) But seriously, it's pretty amazing when you get such a large number of people who are capable of doing something so powerful.”
“There are about 15 actors in all, says Tryggvi when asked how big the production is. “It’s rare for a director to get such a variety of talents. Unless you’re going to direct “Les Misérables” or work in amateur theater. (Laughs.) But seriously, it’s pretty amazing when you get such a large number of people who are capable of doing something so powerful.”

Are there any other fairy tales that could do with such a make over?
“All of them! All these stories and fairy tales are simply bizarre! The female characters are almost always victims. A beautiful Gilzenegger princess almost in formaldehyde, put in jar upon a mantle, where we can admire her but not touch, because she could break. The price is almost always some sort of man. And the story-line is basically always the same.

And many artists have already tried their hand at turning these stories upside down, I’m not inventing the wheel here.”

Now the play is in Icelandic, but you seem to think that the meaning transcends language?
“There is a lot of text, but I’m sure that people who don’t understand the language will have a lot of fun. If not just for the sheer experience of seeing a play performed in an old, former storage for bombs (now referred to as “gömlu kartöflugeymslurnar”) at Rafstöðvarvegur 1A built by the American army in the forties.”

The Students Theater on Facebook.

Tickets sold online.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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        Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.