Saturday, July 12, 2014

KATARINA Jagellonica - NO ONE BUT DEATH, by and with Eva Mattsson, in the Auditorium at the Royal Armoury, Stockholm Palace, performing 136 12/7 2014.

This was just what I needed. A day at the castle. Outside the sun is beaming. Here, within the walls, there is a climate controlled atmosphere. I have a thin cardigan with me, in the backpack, and the temperature is constantly on the verge of me needing to put it on. Maybe I shouldn’t have shorts…
Just inside the door is a kind of throne. It seems constructed out of swords, and looks like something by H. R. Giger, the artist who created the monster in the film Alien. Some geeks take turns photographing each other sitting on it. I stop to look. The only throne I know of is Queen Kristina's silver throne, perhaps most internationally known as the Joker's throne in Batman movie from 1989, so I keep walking and continues inside. 
I'm too chicken for scary, violent TV shows. And it's nearly impossible to get me to watch a horror movie or a thriller. I refuse. I'm like one of those Pavlov’s dogs: as soon as the music gets scary, I get up and leave the room. So there's a whole lot of movies and TV series I have not seen. And it's no wonder I have not heard of the ongoing perhaps the most interesting temporary exhibition Power Games, with clothes from the hit television series Game of Thrones and the two Kate Blanchett movies about Queen Elizabeth. But it's probably most for the TV series that the geeks have gathered. 
I'll make a round in the gift shop and among all the merchandize I find an entire section from the series. I'm considering just buying a logo mug, for the simple reason, to quote the British mountaineer George Mallory's answer when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there". 
"Well, hello," I say to the guy behind the counter. We both look at each other and try to remember where we know each other from. The brain counts backwards. Not days, not months, not years, but decades. He even remembers my name. I remember he was making clothes, somehow. And something with royalty, I think. Or was he just a sewing royalist? 
"I have booked tickets to the show about Katarina Jagellonika," I say. "And then there was a tour before that?" 
”You want to se that? The showing? Before that? "
"Yes, I thought so?" 
"Oh, now I get nervous. It’s my tour. It's my first tour. Ever. "
"Oops." 


It's over an hour to go until the show, so I take a solo round inside the museum. Besides Power Play and they have also the temporary childrens exhibition of Laban in Morningsun Castle, a Swedish children's book about a little ghost called Laban, so there are a lot of people runnig around, reaching to about my hip. I’m like wading through ghost dressed toddlers clattering with chains or shaking pans. 
Upstairs it’s all about the  Power Games. I realize pretty quickly that I will have to see both Kate Blanchett films, read a lot  about Elizabeth and preferably bring someone who’ve seen the TV series to get the most out of the exhibition, so I skim most. 
This is a museum that has survived a lot. It was originally the royal family's stock of costumes, armor and weapons, but in 1628 Gustavus Adolphus decided that his clothes from the campaign to Poland would be saved as a memory, and presto: Sweden's first museum was born. It has moved around a lot, which is very lucky, ’causse it successfully avoided the castle Tre Kronor fire 1697, and they moved from the Palace Makalösa, before it became theater and burned down. It didn’t move back to the caste unditl 1978. 
It's insanely interesting to go around all the clothes, armor and other things saved, and I realize that I have to study my monarchy bit better. I think I need to invent a kind of game, so that it becomes a little more fun. 
My friends guided tour is brilliant. He is funny, well-informed and have a personal approach to what he talks about. We often laugh. When we change room he sneaks past me and whispers that he thinks it is great fun. He has only shown around a group of children before, and we get his jokes, he says. 

I have time for a rushed walk through down in Vagnhallen, the Hall of Carriages, and realize that I have to come back and take a closer look because it seems almost incredible that people have been traveling in something like that. If I saw these vehicles on a stage, I would’ve thought the set designer a little too imaginative. 

It's performance time. We are allowed into the auditorium, and I sit almost in front. We are five people in the audience, but here, in the stillness and silence, it does not bother me that we are so few. The walls, of unplastered masonry stone, meet in the vaulted ceiling, and it feels a bit like you are in a wine cellar, far far underground. 

Lights out. I feel how someone walks past me in the darkness, and hear the rustling of clothes. They turn on the light. Katarina Jagellonica is in da house ... 
It's about Gustav Vasa's daughter, Erik XIV's sister-and Sigismund's mother, the woman who brought the Renaissance to Sweden, a Polish, Catholic princess who along with her ​​husband, John III was incarcerated at Gripsholm Castle for four years, before she was released and became the Swedish queen. 


I'm sitting here thinking about how much her costume must have cost, for the black, heavy renaissance dress is impressive, lavish, and looks just like the one in the Katarina Jagellonicas portrait. 
We follow Katarina Jagellonica from the cradle until 1577 when she is an established Swedish queen and her husband have just given orders to put to death his brother, and it's a life story worth celebrating on a stage. 
I have, or may have had, because I do not know where, a video tape with a recording of a TV show that began with voices and photos of several older famous actresses flashing by in the vignette. It may well be the beginning of Margaretha Krook version of Gertude Stein, for it is a program I've seen many times. In any case: there is an audio recording of Inga Tidblad, in the role of one of Shakespeares characters. Her voice is fragile, brittle, and sounds a bit like she’s singing, and for contemporary ears it sounds almost bordering on parody. This actress sounds a little the same. Like, a little elevated. It adds something enchanting. 

This is a monologue performance, and perhaps more a kind of staged lecture than a drama, as it is more like a memory tale performed by the actress in the role of Catherine, without any visible, dramatic conflicts, internal or external. But it's certainly not uninteresting. I, who have read a little about the object, recognize the story, and is appreciative of the pieces supplied. 
Then she disappears, noiselessly, up the aisle, and I'm tempted to turn his head and look after her as she leaves, but I do not. It feels better to have the illusion. 

Gratefully, 

Joakim Clifton Bergman 

160: - 

So far, the performing arts in 2014 has cost me 6240 + 160 = 6400: - 

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# katarinajagellonica #StockholmCastle #theater#gameofthrones #Sweden #Stockholm

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