Death to the Welfare State: An Exposition on Political Discourse and Artistic Collaboration
By Jörgen Dahlqvist & Kent Olofsson
Död åt välfärdsstaten (Death to the Welfare State), premiered Malmö in 2018. Between us, the authors of this exposition, we have extensive experience of collaborative theatre work, not least through the many theatre productions we have created together. Död åt välfärdsstaten was produced with the ambition to further explore novel ways of working with text and music in our performances, but also to explore artistic expressions that we hadn’t worked with earlier in our artistic practice, which in this case meant incorporating and understanding how dance and choreography could be used in our productions. Död åt välfärdsstaten was a theatre performance for three actors, two dancers, three musicians, two technicians, electroacoustic music and live and pre-recorded video. It dealt with the dismantling of the welfare system in Sweden by using political speeches juxtaposed with a narrative inspired by George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (2010).
In this artistic research exposition, we will elaborate on the process of developing the performance. We will unpack how the relation between discourse and narrative informed the text and music, and how it also allowed for a dramaturgical structure that included all the various performative elements and artistic expressions. We will discuss how the performance was conceived through a collaboration that was characterised by an open-ended dialogue between us and the other artists and how this enabled distributed decision making.
For the exposition we wanted to explore the open format of Research Catalogue, reiterating the dramaturgical structure of the performance itself: an introduction, five parts and an epilogue. The video documentation in parts I-V follows the structure of the performance and is analysed and discussed in the corresponding text. It starts with a short introduction to the initial idea, followed by an analysis in five parts and a conclusion. In the first and second part we present how the text was conceptualised by combining political discourse with existential narrative, and in the third part we delve into how the script was used as a container for all the various artistic expressions and how this was represented in the performance. In the fourth part we look at the process of composing the music, followed by a discussion on our approach to interdisciplinary collaboration in part five. In the epilogue we conclude the discussion and give a short reflection on our own contribution to this process.
We recommend that the text and the video are read/viewed as one unit. Instead of showing photographs of the process, we have attempted to find other ways to visualise and represent it: the illustrations are made especially for this exposition. Our ambition has been to make all of this, in combination, yet another iteration of the performance.