Playwright of “controversial” play responds to criticism.

Screenshot of a poster promoting the play “Hans Blær”.

GayIceland contacted the author of Hans Blær, Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl to get his response to Ugla’s point of view and started by asking Eiríkur why he had decided to make the protagonist a non binary person.
“To begin with it’s hard to say that things are strictly decided in a creation that you work on instinctively,” says Eiríkur. “I don’t want to deny any responsibility for this creation – obviously I decided not to throw the piece into the trash but follow it up, pick up the threads that I saw in it. Ideas like this one come from numerous directions – I’ve admired trans people for their courage for a long time and they have held a place in my mind. What I wanted to do when Hans Blær came into being – three years ago – was, among other things, to create an individual that was like the complete contradiction, in a mad conflict with themselves and society. I found that place in a blend of monster and angel, loser and hero – they are at the same time everything they are and everything they are not and challenge their own definitions every step of the way. I found that a fertile place to work with. Maybe it was a terrible idea – I’m not always really sure.”

“Having a discussion about prejudice it’s inavoidable to point out that it’s a bit off to condemn a work that you have not seen so harshly – I had not even seen it myself when people started sending me notes and comments on it.”

Hans Blær is not only the protagonist in the play, Eiríkur is also finishing a novel about Hans and he says that he has a hard time separating the two works.
“I’m tackling many questions in this play – and even more questions in the novel that will be published this autumn. Having a discussion about prejudice it’s inavoidable to point out that it’s a bit off to condemn a work that you have not seen so harshly – I had not even seen it myself when people started sending me notes and comments on it. Having said that I find it in many ways uncomfortable to defend the play. To begin with the emphasis it lays and it’s estetics is largely the work of the theatre group and secondly for me, which am first and foremost a novelist, not a playwright, the novel is the ultimate product. Thirdly I find my self pointing to the novel again and again to explain all sorts of things in the play, which is of course a hopeless avoidance – the book has not been published yet, this is the play’s moment, but obviously my head is stuck in the world of the novel, which I am finishing after three years of struggle.”

One of the words, used in the interview is “transi”, which trans people experience in the same way that a black person experiences the use of the word “negro”. Did you collaborate with any trans or non binary person when you were writing to get insight into the reality that they live in?

Non binary activist Ugla (Owl) Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir says it is obvious that the author does not know the first thing about non binary people.

“I’ve been having trouble with this word. I’ve used it in my interactions with trans people and trans people have used it to me, so it’s obviously widely used without any malice. I saw somewhere that it was a translation of the English word “trannie” – which is considered degrading, but that, of course, is in a foreign context.

Having said that I’m not really keen on hurting people with the words I choose, it’s not my intention to be a bigger fool than I need to be. I do know a fair amount of trans people – which I don’t want to use as some kind of an alibi, though I have mentioned the piece to some of them – and I have not consulted many people when writing the piece and none of them have been trans. I have, on the other hand read a lot about the issue – my non binary and intersex library is getting quite presentable.

That’s just how I work – alone, in my solitude, I’m in many ways unsociable and nervous. I didn’t consult any Lithuanians or jews either when I was writing Illska, or muslims when writing Gæska nor any women who had lost a child when I wrote Eitur fyrir byrjendur. I’m not sure I could ever write anything if I worked like that. I would probably just sit paralysed the whole day. If my novels and plays are worse – unreadable trash – because of that approach, so be it.”

Hans Blær is the first Icelandic work that has a non binary protagonist and the queer community is not happy about them being presented as some kind of “phenomenon”, as the director put it in this interview on tv. Were you not ready for queer people to get this angry by that presentation of the character?
“Hans Blær is a phenomenon, a freak by it’s own choice and I don’t know how I could describe them otherwise. They are not a phenomenon because they are trans  but besides being trans . A person can be more than one thing, a person can be many things at the same time, a person can be one thing today and another thing tomorrow – every one of us is a multitude of things and we are constantly contradicting ourselves.

“I’m not really keen on hurting people with the words I choose, it’s not my intention to be a bigger fool than I need to be.”

Having said that, I’m not the right person to answer for the director or how the TV show presented the play. Because we are obviously talking about a piece that no one here has seen yet, except myself. And honestly – from the bottom of my heart – I really do not want to defend the play, explain it or interpret it. It crossed my mind right from the beginning, before this interview on TV, to say nothing at all about the play – just let it exist in the world without any interference, like a giant question mark or a thorn in the side. But that is not really possible, of course. The present time is in such a hurry to put everything in some box, reach a conclusion – should we condemn or praise, applaud or throw eggs? – because the world is meant to be a continuous entertaining act and everyone who betrays that contract is plainly guilty. But I think I will never the less keep quiet for the next few months and let the piece speak, the people who have seen it interpret it, and then wait for the novel.”

Main photo: Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl has caused quite a stir in the Icelandic queer community with his new play. Photo / A screenshot from an interview with Eiríkur on RÚV.

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Eiríkurs reply in Icelandic:

Hvers vegna ákvaðstu að hafa Hans Blæ kynsegin?
„Í fyrsta lagi er erfitt að tala um það í sköpun sem er unnin instinktíft að hlutir séu beinlínis ákveðnir. Ég vil ekki hafna neinni ábyrgð á þessari tilvist – ég ákvað augljóslega ekki að henda verkinu í ruslið heldur fylgja því eftir, draga upp þræðina sem ég rak augun í. Hugmyndir einsog þessar spretta síðan úr ótal áttum – ég hef lengi dáðst að transfólki fyrir hugrekki sitt og þau hafa átt sess í huga mér. Það sem fyrir mér vakti þegar Hans Blær varð til – fyrir um þremur árum – var meðal annars að skapa einstakling sem einsog hin fullkomna mótsögn, í brjálæðislegri togstreitu við sjálfan sig og samfélagið. Ég fann þann stað í blöndu af skrímsli og engli, aumingja og hetju – hán er í senn allt sem hán er og allt sem hán er ekki og ögrar eigin skilgreiningum í hverju skrefi. Mér fannst það frjór staður til að vinna með. Kannski var það skelfileg hugmynd – ég er hreinlega ekki alltaf viss.

Tekist er á við margar þessara spurninga í leikritinu – og enn fleiri í skáldsögunni, sem er væntanleg í haust. Í samræðu um fordóma verður ekki hjá því komist heldur að nefna að það er dálítið off að fordæma svona harðlega verk sem maður hefur ekki séð – ég hafði ekki einu sinni séð það sjálfur þegar fólk byrjaði að senda mér nótur og athugasemdir. Að því sögðu finnst mér að mörgu leyti óþægilegt að verja leikverkið. Í fyrsta lagi eru áherslur þess og fagurfræði að miklu leyti leikhópsins og í öðru lagi er skáldsagan, fyrir mér sem er fyrst og fremst rithöfundur fremur en leikskáld, hin endanlega pródúkt. Í þriðja lagi stend ég mig ítrekað að því að vísa til hennar, til útskýringar á einu og öðru, og það eru auðvitað gersamlega glötuð undanbrögð – bókin er ekki komin út, þetta er augnablik leikritsins, en eðli málsins samkvæmt er hausinn á mér allur í heimi skáldsögunnar, ég er að klára hana eftir þriggja ára glímu.“

Eitt af þeim orðum sem notuð voru í viðtalinu var “transi” sem transfólk upplifir á sama hátt og svart fólk upplifir orðið “negri” varstu í samvinnu við einhverja trans eða kynsegin manneskju við samningu verksins til að kynnast veruleika trans/kynsegin fólks?

„Ég hef verið í vandræðum með þetta orð. Ég hef notað það í samskiptum við transfólk, vandræðalaust, og transfólk hefur notað það við mig, og það er í reglulegri notkun víða án nokkurs illvilja Einhvers staðar hef ég séð talað um það sem þýðingu á enska orðinu „tranny“ – sem þykir niðrandi, en það er auðvitað erlent samhengi. Að því sögðu er mér ekkert sérstakt markmið að særa fólk með orðavali mínu, það vakir ekki fyrir mér að vera meira fífl en ég þarf að vera. Ég þekki eitthvert slangur af transfólki – sem ég kæri mig samt ekki um að nota sem einhvers konar fjarvistarsönnun, þótt ég hafi nefnt verkið við sum þeirra – og ég hef ráðfært mig við afar fáa um samningu verksins, og hvorugt þeirra er trans. Ég var ekki einu sinni í sérstaklega miklum samskiptum við leikhópinn um leikgerðina heldur gaf þeim frjálsar hendur. Ég hef hins vegar lesið mér mikið til – kynsegin og intersexbókasafnið mitt (og nettröllabókasafnið mitt) er að verða ansi frambærilegt. Þannig vinn ég bara – í einrúmi, í minni einrænu, ég er að mörgu leyti félagsfælinn og taugaveiklaður. Ég ráðfærði mig ekki heldur við litháa eða gyðinga þegar ég vann að Illsku eða múslima þegar ég vann að Gæsku eða konur sem hafa orðið fyrir barnsmissi þegar ég skrifaði Eitur fyrir byrjendur. Ég er ekki viss um að ég gæti skrifað neitt ef ég starfaði þannig – ég sæti sennilega bara stjarfur allan daginn. Ef bækur mínar og leikrit eru verri fyrir vikið – ólæsilegt rusl – verður bara að hafa það.“

Þetta er fyrsta íslenska verkið þar sem aðalpersónan er kynsegin og þau eru mjög ósátt við að hán skuli vera eitthvert “fyrirbæri” eins og Vignir orðaði það í viðtalinu, áttirðu ekki von á því að kynsegin fólk myndi reiðast yfir þessari framsetningu á persónunni?

„Hans Blær er fyrirbæri, fenómen, sjálfskipað frík og ég veit ekki hvernig ætti að lýsa hánum* öðruvísi. Hán er ekki fyrirbæri vegna þess að hán sé trans heldur auk þess að vera trans. Maður getur verið fleira en eitt og maður getur verið margt í einu og maður getur verið eitt í dag og annað á morgun – og hvert og eitt okkar inniheldur mergðir, einsog skáldið kvað, og er í viðstöðulausri mótsögn.

Að því sögðu er ég auðvitað ekki maðurinn til að svara fyrir Vigni – eða framsetningu Kastljóss á verkinu. Því við erum auðvitað ekki að tala um verk sem neinn hérna hefur séð, að mér undanskildum – það er ein sýning búin og næsta er ekki fyrren í apríl. Og í raun og veru – svona alveg innst frá hjartarótum – kæri ég mig alls ekki um að verja verkið, skýra það eða túlka. Það hvarflaði alveg að mér alveg frá upphafi, fyrir Kastljósinnslagið, að neita bara að segja um það eitt einasta orð – að leyfa því bara að vera til í heiminum án afskipta, einsog risavaxið spurningamerki eða fleinn. En svo er það auðvitað ekki beinlínis hægt. Samtímanum liggur svo á að koma öllu fyrir í einhverju boxi, komast að niðurstöðu – á að fordæma eða hampa, klappa eða kasta eggjum? – af því heimurinn á allur að vera eitt viðstöðulaust meinlaust skemmtiatriði og allir sem svíkja þann samning eru einfaldlega sekir. Ég held ég þegi samt næstu mánuðina og láti verkið um að tala, þá sem hafa séð verkið um að túlka, og bíði svo bókarinnar.“

* Hans Blær er sjálft í svo miklu trássi við heiminn að hán beygir fornafnið einsog hánum/hán sýnist, til að aðgreina sig. Ég biðst forláts fyrir hánar/háns hönd.

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.

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