[This is written in english to make it more accessible both to some icelanders and to international visitors. Just a warning to swedish readers – the word saga here has absolutely nothing to do with what it means in swedish]
Written words, oral storytelling or poetry?
I have just learned that the World Storytelling Day and the World Poetry Day happens closely or on the very same day. So why not use both art forms in the same performance? There are many traditions around the globe where you do exactly that. I think it works very well with the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson. And the Gisle Sursson saga mentioned in the video also comes with a lot of poetry.
What do places mean?
It sure helps to have an experience of the world where your story takes place. When I saw the mountains in the West Fjords this summer I thought; what a terrible fate to be outlawed here, trying to survive on your own in the wilderness. Later I learned that it happened to Gisle! In Ljungby, Henrik Hallgren and Georgiana Keable inspired me to «tell more nature». Of course you can’t visit all the places where your stories happens, just to add first-hand experiences to your telling. Both Fairy Forests and Outer Space can be tricky to reach. And I only caught a glimpse of Gisle’s Dyrifjord through a bus window, so I do hope Bjørn Bensby will continue his work with making a collection of photos from the area.
What do the sagas mean for a contemporary audience outside Iceland? Nothing except for historians? I think they are a rewarding challenge for a storyteller in the sense that they demand the kind of interpretation which is perhaps more common in theatre than among storytellers. Hamlet is built upon the story of Amledo which the danish monk Saxo Grammaticus happened to record centuries before Shakespeare. The themes of betrayal, clever deception and revenge are similar, but IMHO the later english version has some quite nice additions 😉
Why would anyone adapt a saga for oral storytelling? Perhaps because you found an interesting theme or interpretation. But why not theatre, painting or Bollywood? What qualities does an oral performance have which would make that the «best» art form? To me it is the word music and the «presence» – the possibilities of feeling, thinking and talking together.
Please share your thoughts, experiences and questions in a comment (feel free to use the language you want)!