The Sami National Theatre Beaivváš (SNTB) is located in Guovdageaidnu/ Kautokeino in Finnmark, Norway. The Sami National Theatre is the only professional theatre institution that consistently uses Sami language as stage language. The theatre is a transborder, touring theatre, which tours all of the Sami area in Norway, Sweden and Finland several times a year, sometimes also in Russia. In addition the theatre regularly tours outside the region to promote the Sami culture internationally.
Aims are to:
- Be the National Theatre for the Sami people.
- Create theatre experiences in all Sami communities.
- Be an important carrier and promoter of Sami history and identity.
- Preserve, promote and strenghten the Sami languages. All of the theatre´s productions are performed in Sami language, and the theatre has a vision to be able to use all of the the Sami languages in our productions. Most of Beaivváš´s theatre performances are also texted/subtitled to Norwegian and English.
- Provide performing arts experiences that show the world pictures and stories from Sapmi.
- Develop new voices in the theatre. SNTB will throughout our own productions, as well as in collaboration with others, support and stimulate Sami playwrights to generate new Sami plays.
- Contribute to educate, recruit and strenghten Sami-speaking actors.
- Be an important arena for yoik-/music theatre in Sápmi and have a particular responsibility to preserve and promote the Sami traditional music yoik. One of the aims of the theatre is to make Sami yoik- /musical theatre accessible to a wide audience throughout the Nordic region, but also to develop new Sami musicals in various formats.
The Sami National Theatre Beaivváš was originally established as a free theatre group in 1980. In one of the most intense phases in recent Norwegian history, the Alta controversy, a political controversy in Norway in the late 1970s and early 1980s concerning the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the Alta/Kautokeino- river in Finnmark, Northern Norway, was Beaivváš born. In the fall of 1979, as construction was ready to start, protesters performed two acts of civil disobedience: at the construction site itself at Stilla, activists sat down on the ground and blocked the machines, and at the same time, Sami activists began a hunger strike outside the Norwegian parliament. Documents, that have since been declassified, show that the government planned to use military forces as logistical support for police authorities in their efforts to stop the protests. After the demonstrations, young enthusiastic cultural activists in Kautokeino area created a theatre group, and the first performance; “Min duoddarat/Our tundra” was staged in 1981. 10 years later, in 1991, the theatre was placed as a permanent post on the Norwegian state budget, and in 1993 Beaivváš was defined as one of Norway´s national theatre institutions together with the Norwegian National Theatre, Det Norske Teatret and Den Nasjonale Scene. The theatre’s annual subsidy in 2018 is 21.1 million NOK, and the theatre is at present under Sami Parliament budget management.
In 2017 Beaivváš had a total of 21 FTEs, of which 5.6 FTEs are administration and the rest are artistic work. The theatre has 16 permanent employees – the remaining FTEs consists mainly of freelance cultural workers (actors, directors, musicians, designers etc.) who´re hired on short-term contracts for each production. The theatre is pr. currently located in Kautokeino Culture House, but since 2005 Beaivváš has worked to build a separate Sami theatre building in Guovdageaidnu.
The number of audience for The sámi national theatre is 10-12000 in a normal year. In 2017, the theatre showed 99 performances at 40 venues – containing both own productions and productions made in collaboration with other theatre institutions. The theatre is constantly working to expand and improve the business and to reach out to an even larger audience. You can find more information about our work to get a new theatre house and about the expansion of the theatre’s future business here:
The theatre has several times been nominated for Norway’s main theatre award, the Hedda Award, and the theatre has also received it. In 2012 the theatre was nominated in the category “special artistic achievement.” The citation for the nomination states that The Sámi National Theatre Beaivváš is a theatre that particularly “use performing arts to build an important and necessary bridge between the Sami and the Norwegian culture”. In 2000 the theatre received the Hedda Award for best set- and costume design, for the performance “The Story of Volund” by Aage Gaup and Berit Marit Hætta. In 2013 Anitta Suikkari was nominated for best female bi-role holder. In 2016 the theatre received the Hedda Award in the category “special artistic achievement” for the performance Vidas Extremas.
The transborder theatre
Sámi National Theatre Beaivváš is a transborder theatre. Both in terms of visuals, content and form – but even geographically. None of the Norwegian theatres, except for Riksteateret, is touring more than SNTB. And none of the Norwegian theatres are traveling more abroad than the Sami National Theatre who moves in more and more diverse venues than most other cultural institutions. The theatre is a national institution, but it´s acting and performing in a number of local communities, primarily in the Nordic countries, but even internationally in a circumpolar context.
Each year the theatre ensemble travel more than 28000 km on tours throughout Sapmi/Scandinavia. That´s is a distance similar to the distance between Oslo-Beijing and back, twice. The theatre is also a renowned theatre on an international level, often working in collaboration with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Some of the countries that SNTB has visited with our performances are; Greenland, Iceland, the Spanish Basque country, Estonia, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Japan and Guatemala.
This has enabled the theatre to gain great expertise in everything that has to do with theatre work, cooperation and touring activities across borders and between different peoples and cultures.