(Note: in the summer of 1998, at Naxos, Alfred de Grazia discussed plans for the forthcoming Millennium festival of Stockholm with Swedish friends involved in staging the spectacle. Late in 1998, he decided to submit to the Organizing Committee a scheme for the Festival that would stress the world connections of Sweden and the transition of the Swedes from a medieval people to a post-modern people. The proposal for what he called a Mass Thing, a Happening, was sent in at the beginning of 1999. It is published for the first time here on the Web. More modest ideas, however, prevailed, that Walt Disney would better appreciate.)
City of Stockholm, Sweden, 1999
A HAPPENING, A Mass Thing, a dramatic invitation and in-gathering of ancient Scandinavian relatives and connections to celebrate the beginning of the Third Millennium of the Present Era.
Fourteen (14) Stockholm troupes travel to 14 foreign places. There, in multiplex drama, song, and dance, they renounce the evils of the past, confirm their friendships of the present, and foretell a good future for mankind. Returning to Stockholm, they convey the message to all parts of Sweden, then culminate in a grand procession and assembly in Old Stockholm at the Beginning of the New Third Millennium.
The invitation to come to Stockholm is carried out on a dramatic stage (open-air or in theater) by Stockholm emissaries-messengers at 14 locations abroad, where Vikings and Swedes had entered into the local history, as follows:
Russia (Novgorod or Kiev)
Germany (Pomerania or Bremen)
England (Hastings or London)
Italy (Palermo in Sicily)
Additional sites are possible, if more are desired and the resources to include them are available. These include: Ireland, Poland, France (Alsace), Byzantium, Jerusalem, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, St. Barthelemy, Seville, York (England).
Prior to the appearance of the emissary and troupe on stage, the Swedish culture affairs agency, the foreign ministry, cooperating local Swedish interests or groups, and the local cultural affairs and governmental agencies have been brought into the plan, approved it, and lent their support, especially in publicity and setting up the arena for the action. The related foreign embassies in Stockholm ought to be visited as soon as possible after the project is launched. The countries visited must like the idea, and therefore it is important that the philosophy behind the Happening be clearly understood and that the emissaries and everyone involved knows how to explain it wherever they go and with whomsoever they discuss the Happening.
(Note: At each site, the plot follows generally the same line, but is as different as possible in its application to local history and conditions. In addition, each troupe will work with its own set of creative artists, thus producing very different effects from one to another setting.)
Act I. Scene 1.
Following the messenger’s announcement of the invitation to the assembled local crowd (audience), a troupe of actors from Sweden, in modern dress, set up a shouting, declaiming, picturesque discussion and argument as to why anyone should pay attention to the invitation: Imagine what happened locally when the Vikings and Swedes first came. Several actors take the part of the Swedes, others voice the views of the locals. Before they come to blows, a group of musicians and dancers appear and seize the stage, while the actors retire.
Example a: The Newfoundland plot-node could be the birth of Snorri, the first European infant born in America (hitherto accredited to a Virginia baby), though connected largely with good and bad relations between the Indians ("Skraelings") and Vikings. Here, as throughout this multimedia, multilingual, high brow - low brow, message-bearing spectacle. the clarity, pungency and brevity of the writing are most important.
Example b: The English drama may center upon the reminiscences and forebodings of Harold the Saxon and the ambitions for England of William the Conqueror on the eve of the battle of Hastings. Alternatively, upon the distribution of the spoils of war by William in London, and the production of the famous Domesday book.
Example c: The unsparing account written by Ibn Fadlan of the rites and sacrifices accompanying the burial of a Swedish "Rus" chief of the Volga region in the 10th century might be used to portray the unending brutalities visited upon that region up to the present time, lightened only by the hope that the New Millennium might provide a better, more humane life.
Example d: In 1638, shortly after the Pilgrims and Virginians reached America, the Kalmar Nyckel (reconstructed) landed 24 Swedes, with several Dutch, Finns, and Germans among them, on the banks of a river that they renamed "Christina River," in today’s Wilmington, Delaware. The Indians were not hostile. More Swedes arrived soon afterwards.
Every one of the14 sites (and also the several sites passed over) offers engaging, significant, boisterous plots – tragic, ironic, comic or all three, and lend themselves to interpretative music and dance.
Act I, Scene 2.
Dance and Songs. Original creations for each place by three attached Swedish colleagues: a music composer, choreographer, and the author of the particular country script. Attention should be given to producing both the old Swedish music and the avantgarde, the same with plot and playwrighting – from the classical to the "far out," and the same with choreography.
Act I, Scene 3. The troupe reappears in the indigenous costumes and the Swedish costumes of the time when they first encountered one another. Although they look more like strangers than before, they actually come to agree that the past should be learned so as to be changed for the future. "Let bygones be bygones, and full sail into the future!" And all depart for Stockholm (leave the stage) dancing and singing.
Up to this point in the total drama, in their various local foreign settings, 14 Stockholm troupes have presented 14 original sets, each consisting of dialogue, original musical compositions, and original choreography.
Next, after playing in these 14 foreign locales, these same troupes return to Sweden. Here they tour the cities of the country like a carousel, such that one follows the other on consecutive days in December 1999, over a period of fourteen days. Whereas, in the various locales, the language has been a mixture of the foreign language and Swedish, now the language is almost entirely Swedish, with just enough foreign phrases for embellishment.
Act II, Scene 1.
Two final performances of the twelve troupes are presented in the four quarters of Stockholm in last days of December, again in the carousel manner. But these continue on to fulfill the total Happening.
Act II, Scene 2.
Twice before the New Year of the Third Millennium, once on New Year’s Eve and the second on the night of the New Year, the second Act of the Happening is presented in a single scene.
Part 1. Marching in from the four quarters of Stockholm after the last performance of their local presentations, the troupes each lead as many citizens of Stockholm and visitors as wish to join in, singing, beating drums. Students will be invited to dress in costume and help to form the procession with instruments and songs.The four columns merge. They proceed. Then they assemble at the center of the Old City.
Part 2. At the center of the stage, which would be outside, weather permitting, or in the largest auditorium or stadium, would be welcoming officials and celebrities.
Also giant mock-ups of characters connected with the Happening, (such as Leif Eriksson and Gustavus Adolphus and William the Conqueror of Normandy) shouting greetings in the various languages.
A newly composed lengthy fanfara is blown.
Loud on the amplifier, the Chairman of the Thing will invite the new Millennium to witness the good will and hopes of the people.
One by one, lasting two minutes, the emissary-representative from each troupe will proclaim in a loud voice the success of their mission and the presence here (spiritual if not physical) of the people whom they have visited abroad.
There will be cheers, drums, whistles, after each.
A dance will follow, in which all the 12 troupes will take part.
Then a chorus, also of the troupes, and probably reinforced by special elements of the crowd from the gymnasiums of the various sectors of the city.
Then another fanfara, drums, fireworks, cheers, midnight, and The New Millennium begins!
Staff and Actors
1. Each troupe will be composed of:
1 Concertmeister and Emissary
3 Singers (Soprano, Tenor and Baritone)
4 Musicians (Drummer, Flutist, Nyckelharpenist, Trumpet)
7 Dancers and Singers
Making a total of 21 persons.
With 14 troupes, the total personnel of the troupes will be 294.
2. The central Staff and Cast will be composed of:
Principal and Coordinating Composer
Principal and Coordinating Choreographer
Public Relations Director and Head of Emissaries
Travel and Space Manager
Computer operations Manager and Webmaster
General Property and Set Manager
3 Actors – Man, Woman and Child
Number of personnel on central staff = 19
Total of all professional and other employed personnel = 294+19 = 313
Organization and Support
The Sponsor and source of authority and support for Stockholmcoming 2000 will be the City of Stockholm through its Y2000 Bureau. The Stockholmcoming 2000 group may be organized as a Not-for-profit Foundation, so as to be better administered and more flexible.
The Board of Trustees of Stockholming 2000 might include representatives of all sources of significant support, such as indicated below in the discussion following the Budget. The Chairman of the Board should be a distinguished Citizen or Government Official. Whoever is chosen should be expected to lend his best efforts to the project; it should not be viewed as a simply honorary post.
The Producer would be responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, general direction, coordinating activities, budget management and reporting to the Board.
1. Initial Discussions: January 20 - February 28, 1999
2. Clearances and appointments: March 1 - April 15
3. Renting and otherwise arranging all sites: May 1 - June 15
4. Full publicity campaign: September 1 to January 20, 2000
5. Writing scripts, composing, choreography, April 15 - Jan. 20, 2000
6. Rehearsals: November- December 1
7. Departures for foreign sites December 6
8. Performances abroad: December 8 - 18
9. Performances in Swedish towns: December 20 - 24
10. Performances in 4 Stockholm Sectors: December 26-8
11. Final performances in Stockholm Sectors merging into the First Grand Procession and Assembly: December 31
12. Final performances in Stockholm Sectors merging into the Second Grand Procession and Assembly: January 1, 2000
13. All staff: Reenacting and providing supplementary material for documentary film "Stockholming 2000" for television, theater-viewing and video world-wide January 2 - February 28, 2000.
1) A total of 313 Swedish cultural workers will be
employed on the project and additional workers on its offshoots in films,
etc. Stockholming 2000 will reach out and incorporate a great many persons,
families and groups. So, besides a direct contribution to the success of the
Stockholm Festival, a large and long-lasting impact on the arts in Sweden
might be forthcoming.
2) The participation of a great many students, adults and children can be expected, so that some thousands of persons will be able to feel that they are helping to bring about the Stockholm of the new age.
3) The effect on 14 other countries will be that of a major cultural event in which they will feel that they are included.
4) The Budget will be a small part of the overall budget of the Festival, and should be partially or even totally financed by outside sources, for example, SAS for one or more troupes, and Volvo (where it has a factory), and Eriksson Electronics (for Canada and the Newfoundland troupe). The University of Minnesota has an extensive Scandinavian program and would be invited to share in Stockholming 2000.
5) Stockholming 2000 is so multifarious that many cultural workers will be given independent creative tasks and boosted to new levels of effort and achievement. In appointing creative personnel, efforts could be made to represent different schools of art, music, dance, and writing.
Thus, to start the process, widespread announcements via Internet and Press might bring e-mail expressions of interest and resumés from numerous dramatists, composers and choreographers. Those invited could then meet as a group, where the specifications for the job, the constraints, and the opportunities for highly imaginative work would be explained, and "brainstorming" would be encouraged.
6) Stockholming 2000 might locate resources for a 60-minute documentary film on the project, which would possess historical, educational, and entertainment value internationally and might return part or all of its cost (see Budget).
7) Promptly after deciding to go ahead with Stockholming 2000, an Internet Web site should be set up to communicate with people all over Sweden and around the world. Each troupe would be in constant touch with the other troupes and with the home office by e-mail. Background materials of a historical, descriptive, and project-news kind should be posted on the Site. No one should participate without Internet hardware at one’s side throughout the year of the project.
Budget* (In kroner)
|2.||Travel (tickets, lodging, meals)||4,700,000|
|6.||Insurance and social security||800,000|
|7.||Property and costumes||280,000|
|8.||Movie (contracted out) 60 min.||4,000,000|
* The figures are only preliminary
guesses, and are rounded off. Also,
the categories are general and have to be broken down to the last position and detail.
Potential Sources of Finance
for Stockholming 2000
1. Subventions: Stockholm Festival budget
City of Stockholm
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Culture
Corporations, including banks and airlines
(Each location might have an appropriate Swedish business sponsor.)
2. Sales of tickets and rights:
Ticket sales at foreign performances
Ticket sales at Swedish performances
Royalties on music and dances
* Copyright © 1999 by Alfred de Grazia