Digital Prize 2022


Jo Strømgren Kompani

A sign-language performance about searching for love in the time of confusing communication interfaces.


A deaf woman invites a blind date to her multifunctional smart-home apartment, featuring real-time digital translation and automated video features. The technology is designed to be user friendly but does not take account of people with alternative abilities. The number of misunderstandings is overwhelming as they try to not just overcome the nervous face-to-face meeting with a stranger, but also the confusing communication between unrelated technological systems. There is also a major factor in play – system malfunctions. Just as people often choose the wrong words or signs, the digital mind tends to fatally misinterpret subtext, irony, and sexual hints.

The production aims to portray the alienation we all experience in contemporary life, whether it is between people, objects, or abstract software algorithms. The working title refers to the definition of interface – the place at which independent and often unrelated systems meet and act on or communicate with each other. But hopefully the desire to love and being loved is stronger than interface errors and confusion. And maybe the struggle to understand makes our knowledge about ourselves and our surroundings stronger and more personal.

In the larger context, the production intends to create a common ground for deaf and hearing people, no matter which language or culture. Teater Manu’s unique competence with sign language and dramaturgical research, along with Jo Strømgren Kompani’s international network and experience with borderless communication, represent a base for large and broad distribution of a formula yet to be seen on mainstream stages around the world. One can imagine such a dance theatre performance acting as an interface itself. The optimal result is a performance where deaf and hearing audiences are participating on equal terms, allowing a diversity without artistic compromises.

Artistic Team

Jo Strømgren - director, choreographer, set designer, playwright. Norwegian, has created around 200 productions for dance, theatre, puppet theatre, film, and opera. As a playwright he has written 40 plays and been commissioned by theatres like The Norwegian National Theatre, Royal Danish Theatre, Pushkin Drama Theatre Moscow, Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz Munich, Zurich Opera, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, and others. Bregje van Balen - costume designer. Dutch, a regular member of Jo Strømgren Kompani. Former dancer with Nederlands Dans Teater, frequently engaged as a costume designer for a long list of choreographers, like Alexander Ekman, Johan Inger, Jorma Elo, Cathy Marston, and others. Stephen Rolfe - lighting designer. British, a regular member of Jo Strømgren Kompani. He has collaborated with Jo Strømgren on about 50 productions. This core creative team is always instrumental in the first phase of company productions. Additional creatives are added in the next phase and chosen from our vast pool of regular collaborators, depending on competence and artistic qualities needed.


Teater Manu



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