Fra smør til margarin at 1857 and Whitelight Theater F

Exhibition title: Fra smør til margarin (From Butter to Margarine)

Venue: 1857, Whitelight Theater F, Oslo, Norway

Director: Pernille Lindstad

Manuscript: Pernille Mercury

Curated by: Jenny Kinge and Natalie Hope O’Donnell

Costumes: Siri Hjorth

Stage manager: Lise Kristin Kvenseth

Date: February 16 – 19, 2017

Photography: Vegard Kleven, images copyright and courtesy of the artists, authors and 1857

The interdisciplinary theatre production Fra smør til margarin (From Butter to Margarine) is part of the contemporary art programme Munchmuseet on the Move. The two-act play takes place at 1857 and Whitelight Theater F, located at Grønland and Tøyen on the east side of Oslo. The production is site-specific and investigates the historical context of the buildings housing 1857 and Whitelight Theater F, respectively, with focus on the late 19th century, when poverty and prostitution were rife in the rapidly growing city of Kristiania.

Act 1, unfolding at 1857, tells the story of one woman, Miss Mathea, who ran a milk shop from the wooden house at Grønland in the 1870s and 1880s. Changes in the law in Norway at the time opened up the possibility for unmarried women to enter into business. Interspersing different temporal perspectives, Act 1 presents a vision of this businesswoman’s life in relation to the nearby cattle market, drawing on the Norwegian women’s movement and the cultural symbolism of milk.

A few blocks from Miss Mathea’s milk shop, the natural dairy product of butter got a competitor in the form of its chemical surrogate: margarine. Act 2 centers on the margarine factory  originally located in the building that today houses Whitelight Theater F, and its owner Auguste Pellerin, a French entrepreneur and art collector. Besides being portrayed by Matisse and Cézanne, Auguste Pellerin, the “margarine king”, explicitly incorporated fine art into his marketing strategies for the artificial product his industry was built upon. In Act 2, the history of the margarine factory and its leader haunt the theatre with parallels to contemporary developments in food processing.

Act 1 at 1857

Scenography: Petter Ballo
Lights: Pablo Castro
Choreography and dance: Ingvild Isaksen and Geir Hytten
Performers from Kompani F: Ingvild Isaksen, Ingrid Liavåg, Åsa Hillingseter Løyning and Johanne Scheen Jahnsen
Folk musicians: Anita Fogge and Odd Sylvarnes Lund


Act 2 at Whitelight Theater F

Installation: Endre Tveitan
Performers from Kompani F: Samantha Lawson, Benjamin Lønne Røsler, Kjersti Aas Stenby, Matthew Trustham, Martin Furulund, Andreas Strand Renberg
Audio design: Andreas Strand Renberg
Sound technician: Øyvind Røsrud Gundersen