Ornitofilene (1965)

In a village in southern Italy, one of the local leaders recognises, amongst a group of wealthy German tourists, many of the nazi occupiers who had once oppressed, tortured and killed many of the villagers.

The performance is centred on a story full of mocking irony uncovered by Jens Bjørneboe in the early sixties, those “glorious years” of the economic boom. The Germans are rich and opposed to violence. The Italians are poor and ferocious: they revel in the slaughter of the migrant birds which fly over their sun-scorched, rocky coast. These are cooked and eaten in their thousands, each bird no more than a mouthful, but delicious. The Germans declare: “You must stop your hunting. We will build a tourist paradise here in your village. You will be well-off. But no civilised foreigner will want to come to a place where there is so much senseless killing”.

These are the years when foreign tourism explodes, especially amongst the Germans, and becomes one of the most important industries in Italy. It is also the time when, in Europe, ecology starts to become a popular religion. The ex-torturers and ex-occupiers now come to bring well-being and to defend (bird) life. Their ex-victims, as poor as ever, resist the new order in the name of their own independence and dignity, and want to continue to plunder nature. But in the end all the men of the village choose progress, modernisation and well-being, whatever the source. The daughter of the village leader commits suicide: Those who loved me have abandoned me. Now I shall see how alone one is in death”. Her father laughs mockingly and, turning to the spectators, announces: “Your children!“.

This is the first of many suicides to be encountered in the eighteen performances of the “dark legend”.

Photos: Terje Lund

Created in Oslo, during the first months of Odin Teatret’s existence, in the total isolation of a nuclear bomb shelter

Actors: Anne-Trine Grimnes, Else Marie Laukvik, Tor Sannum, Torgeir Wethal

Text: Jens Bjørneboe

Architect: Ole Daniel Bruun

Scenic space: Odin Teatret

Adaptation and directing: Eugenio Barba

Language: Norwegian

Number of spectators per performance: 120

51 performances from October 1965 to March 1966 (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)