YLC was present at the opening night of the 10th edition of STOFF – Stockholm Fringe Festival at Orion Theatre on September 3rd. It was a very emotive night with brave and edgy speeches, stories and performances from some of the invited artists to this year’s festival alongside the organisers and other special guests.
In case you’re not so familiar with STOFF yet, this is a multidisciplinary performance arts festival bringing exciting work from local and international artists, in the areas of theatre, music, visual arts, dance, art walks, performances, workshops, films, debates and everything in between. More about STOFF here!
This year to mark its jubilee, STOFF has chosen to programme narratives that have sprung from women, non-binary and trans artists. This is a reaction in part to the applicant trend during the first decade of Fringe, and in part to the turbulent state of current world politics and STOFF’s wish to amplify the silenced voices in the arts industry.
During the opening night of STOFF X we met head-on sneak peeks from the performances of Grebnellaw and the Subatomic Choir by Grebnellaw who welcomed us to a red and white universe of subatomic beauty, futuristic sex and the biggest costumes we’ve seen! Then came AKU-MATU on stage, the Iñupiaq performance artist who rapped us into a state of transformation and healing, followed by The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to find the Superhero Within with Valerie David, with her witty monologue in which she tells us that a cancer diagnosis means only one thing: Time to get laid! Her true and inspiring story as a 3-time cancer survivor…
As the night progressed we heard inaugural speeches from Yolanda Aurora Bohm Ramirez, artist, poet and activist, who described STOFF as an arena for women, non-binary and trans artists that offers the possibility to talk with each other instead of to the power of identity, since the performing artists don’t represent a block of gender. At this festival then no one talks about the normative eye upon them artists, instead it exists as a creative space where they meet in a physical environment, create art, that doesn’t consider things such as capitalism, as to mention one of those cliché topics. In the physical arenas created at this festival, the artists are able to provide the audience with honest, personal experiences, permanent and not so permanent.
Stockholm’s Fringe Festival’s heart-and-soul core team, Lina Karlmark, Helena Bunker and Adam J. K. Potrykus took to the stage to remember how 10 years ago they opened the first edition of STOFF with only 30 acts in one single venue. Today the festival offers more than 80 acts spread in 14 places and spaces in and around Stockholm. There are so many acts presented at STOFF that depending on your mood you can choose a show that fits it and experience a different Fringe, those were the words of Adam J. K. Potrykus. With the message “Your voices won’t be licence, your work is breaking walls!”, Helena Bunker offered a toast to the artists.
To conclude the inaugural ceremony, Iranian producer and artist, Bahar Pars, came on stage and spoke about her story, coming to Sweden looking for freedom at the time of the fall of the Berlin wall. She struggled in the Sweden of that time, which told her she was unfit to become an actress, let alone even dream of becoming a producer. She soon learnt that if she wanted to take charge of her narrative, she needed to take matters into her own hands and so she started her own production company. “STOFF is a democratic platform that allows you to be who you want to be.” concluded Bahar Pars.
Right after the inaugural ceremony, visitors to the first night of STOFF X were treated to Ways of Seeing, an outstanding theatre/music piece/video art- performance by Sarah Baban, Hanan Benammar, Ali Djabbary, and Ketil Lund, who put on display a journey into the extreme-right networks of Norway that shook up the Norwegian government and forced the Minister of Justice to resign.
The night was closed in style to the sounds and the performance of Dark Drome Dream by Espejo Negro who provided the right conditions for all to touch smooch, dance or meditate, celebrating all bodily fluids.
Find the STOFF’s program and book your tickets here!
All photos by Karen Lundquist