V. Circulating the Artistic Decision Making

The Storyteller: The farm's welfare was still the best of all in the landscape. Nowhere like on this particular farm, it was said that daddy pigs and daddy dogs should be able to be at home with their puppies when they were small. At the same time, something was itching. No matter how they tried to get the new animals, those who had come to seek shelter to settle on the farm, it was not possible. The animals were ashamed of it. And even the pigs began secretly admitting that the dogs might have been right before – although they might not admit it in public. But working conditions were not fair. And there was not enough housing and… well, the list can just go on. But regardless, the pigs didn’t want to go back to the ‘small farm model’ again. (Dahlqvist 2018, our translation)

In the forthcoming book chapter ‘Strategies for Creative Agency in Performing Arts’ (Dahlqvist & Olofsson, in print) we argue that the process of making a performance could be divided into different phases and that this provides a more nuanced understanding of creative agencies in collaboration between artists. In the chapter, Död åt välfärdsstaten is used as one of the case studies. Analysing the performance once more allows for a deepened understanding of the division of labour within the creative process. First of all, the two of us were responsible for developing the concept of the performance and the planning. This was done a long time before the actual work started. This meant doing the practical work such as writing applications to apply for funding, making time plans and inviting all the different artists. When the pre-production and rehearsals started, the playwright/director, the composer and the choreographer, who usually are responsible for developing ideas and leading the artistic work, continued to do so. 

In the performance, different forms of expression were presented in parallel: music was performed during a political speech, and at the same time a choreography was performed – all this was being filmed and projected on the back wall of the stage. To achieve this, the responsibilities of imagining, developing, and rehearsing the different parts was pragmatically distributed among the different collaborators throughout the production process. To achieve the blending of artistic expressions both personally and structurally, we used the narrative structure and the event score to organise all these elements and ideas that artists brought to the process. All the artists were in dialogue during the whole process, but first and foremost the two of us had a close dialogue with the choreographer, to decide where new ideas would fit and to see that the transitions between different parts worked both in the specific moment and as a part of the whole form.

The division of labour was pragmatic and was based on skills rather on profession. To organise the rehearsals we had one person (Jörgen) who was responsible for the overall management and whose main task was to ensure that the work progressed, and that everyone felt involved in the process. During the late stages of the rehearsals, the function of the director changed depending on what happened on stage. The different art forms – theatre, dance and music – dictated who would be responsible for what would happen. Sometimes it would be two people engaging in a dialogue when there was a need to take more than one art form into account. 

It is important to underline that all the artists were handpicked because of being skilled experts at what they do as individual artists, but also because they were open to this kind of process-based practice. All artists in the production were used to investigatory work with others, but also had emphasised a desire for experimenting with form within their respective fields.

The Story of How the Pigs Must Open Their Hearts (In Swedish)

The Division of Labour during the Process

The Story of the Animals looking for Shelter (In Swedish)

PART 5-1

The open process created a specific aesthetic in the performance. Whims and experiments were encouraged and helped the process of different forms of representation and performance to take place simultaneously. This part starts with an extended musical and choreographic sequence which leads up into the final speech. 

PART 5-2

The final section of the performance mirrors the first. It is a monologue, with one actor and one dancer. It is yet again a re-written political speech, with reflections on inequality and the future of the welfare state.