“I don't want to be in the waiting room ever in my life again.” Elisabet Johannesdottir on what writing has brought to her career.
Icelandic-Luxembourgish actress and writer Elisabet Johannesdottir will showcase her versatility at TalentLab #18.
Making her debut as a director, Elisabet Johannesdottir says her dark comedy, “Emerald & Olive”, aims to challenge the “American dream”. Having spent one-third of her life in the USA, Elisabet Johannesdottir’s play reflects her unique point of view on America. It represents a non-realistic and fictional vision of America, but tackles relevant and sensitive topics, such as gun violence.
Featuring a dreamer, a robbery, a realist, a gunshot, a crazy stalker ex-boyfriend, an upcoming hurricane, an iguana and a hotel room, Johannesdottir has created the perfect recipe for a dark and eccentric play. When two desperate accomplices cannot find a buyer for a diamond they grabbed during a robbery in which one of them accidentally shot a security guard, things get out of control. The small-time criminals find themselves in unexpected situations as Hurricane Sandy approaches. “I wanted to put it in a really heighten circumstance, but in a humorous way. I’m making fun of the absurdity. You shouldn’t be able to go to Walmart and buy a gun,” Johannesdottir says.
Over the course of eight days, she will set up a twenty-minute sample of her play, with the help of her mentor, director and actress Anne-Cécile Vandalem. “She’s inspiring. She really got me inspired to take my creativity to the next level,” Johannesdottir declares. Mentors at the TalentLab help project leaders with technical rehearsal and give feedback, which is vital, says Johannesdottir. “If you write something yourself and you direct it, you’re so in it that it’s important to have an outside view, to add the dynamisms that you might not see.”
Creating a universe
For Johannesdottir, TalentLab is much more than an opportunity to show her work; it is a new adventure. “Writing is more concrete than acting. I get to be the creator of this universe, I decide what the rules are in that world,” she says. Fully focused on paying tribute to her time in America, she prefers to write most of her plays in English. As well as being the closest language to her Icelandic mother tongue, Elisabet has always considered English as straight-to-the-point. “There is a directness to the English language which I think is really helpful, because I enjoy writing comedies.”
Alongside being drawn to writing about America, she always had the desire to change the image of women in plays and on screen. With female protagonists in most of her plays, she is disappointed at the lack of scriptwriters or playwrights who know how to write women’s roles well. “Often, women are the girlfriend, the accessories, a mother or a neighbour. We are half the audience. We representing half of humanity, so there should be stories that reflect that,” she says. In addition, she would like to see more creations made in Luxembourg and more English-speaking plays.
Elisabet Johannesdottir will showcase “Emerald & Olive” as a work in progress at TalentLab #18 on 31 May. Entrance is free. For more info, click here.