Blog post

The Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo

Multicultural theatre company inspiring new generations of performers

Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

For nearly 30 years, the Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo has been presenting multicultural theatre to entertain and inform audiences while developing new Norwegian theatre talent.

The Nordic Black Theatre was founded in Oslo in 1992 with the aim of diversifying Norwegian theatre.

It was founded by actor, director and playwright Cliff Moustache and Jarl Solberg. Solberg managed the theatre's day-to-day activities while Moustache was the artistic director.

Moustache was born in The Seychelles, and had studied acting and directing in the United Kingdom. He moved to Norway in the 1980s, becoming the director of a theatre group Artists for Libertation.

Moustache has noted that, in the 1990s, 'theatre in Oslo was not promoting the wealth and dynamism of multiculturalism'. There were little professional opportunities for Black actors, with some Norwegian theatres still using make-up so white actos could play Black roles.

Initially the theatre was located in the Park Theatre, in Oslo's Grünerløkka district.

In 2001, the theatre company moved to be located on a boat 'Innvik'.

The boat was originally built in 1967 as a car ferry, but had been converted into a theatre space in 1987. It had been used by many different theatre and cultural groups for performances, poetry readings, concerts and more - as well as offering accommodation.

However, in 2010, the old car ferry was declared a fire hazard. Nordic Black Theatre had to move to a new venue, after around 100,000 audience members had enjoyed 1,500 performances on board.

From 2010, the Nordic Black Theatre has been based in Caféteateret in the Gamle Oslo district.

The Nordic Black theatre both stages its own productions as well as guest performances from other theatre companies.

The Nordic Black Theatre has been at the forefront of developing new theatre talent in Norway. Through groups and activities for children and teenagers, the theatre has recruited generations of new and younger voices into performing arts.

The photographs below are from the collections of the Oslo City Archive, examples of many productions and activities of the Nordic Black Theatre.

Theatre Black history Norway