Outsiders onstage

The new play "Utafor" by Svein Tindberg and the group Just Unity, explores what it means to be outside of Society. The theme of outsideness is shown realistically in four life stories that exemplify ethnicity, religious otherness, gender and poverty as factors that can lead to marginalisation. A main focus is how bein on the margins can breed extremism, as in the case of radical political Islamists. It seems that being on the margins can attract a lot of darkness and make marginalised people an easy prey for those who promote hatred.

The four characters are played by themselves, telling their real life stories. We meet for instamce Yousef. When he was a high school student, he was a loner, and the play shows how this loneliness is both painful and motivates a quest for something else. He soon finds it via the connecting power of the internet. He meets with a group of extremists who treat him like a long lost son. He is endeared and is fooled to vow everything for the cause. A cause that is not exactly friendly towards society as we know it.

Faten is a girl who has experienced a lot of discrimation due to her wearing head cover. She is also one of the main activists behind the ring of Solidarity that many joined in 2015 to hold hands and form a human protective barrier around the Jewish Synagogoue in Oslo. As many remember the synagogue had been threatened by numerous violent extremists, and this was a fitting response. As it happened this was also the event where Faten met Yousef, who had changed his ways at that stage. Together they formed the organisastion "Just Unity" to work against extremism in all its forms.

The play also features the Jewish boy Tor and Siri who is a survivor from the massacre at Utøya. Together the four show life stories intimately connected with the main forms of extremist hatred of today in Western societies: radical politicized Islam, racism, anti-semitism and far right-wing fanaticsm. All these distorted ideologies have had all too human impacts on the story tellers telling their stories in a dramatic manner with music. This is an important play shedding light on hos dark forces are being dealt with by those closely affected by them.

- Katrin Machayek