Right as we were about to have dinner, one of Barth’s friends hugged me and said he wished he could stay but had to catch a seat at an event. I asked him what type of event he was headed to and he explained that it was like a big showcase with a variety of performers. I was intrigued. After asking a few more questions I had enough information to navigate my way there on Oslo’s very efficient transit system. I didn’t know what to expect but I figured I had arrived when I saw a line extending out onto the sidewalk in front of an unassuming venue. I began to get excited looking at the diversified group of people in line. A young man in line behind me introduced himself and told me he was a rapper. After hearing me speak he wanted to know where I was from. I love that when I travel abroad, I’m usually not assumed to be a tourist, let alone from America, that is, until people hear me speak. He thought “Mississippi” to be a funny sounding place and we shared a laugh over him trying pronounce it with his thick Nordic accent. Unbeknownst to me, I was standing in line to witness one of the most amazing open mic shows in Norway called Open Xpressions held at the Nordic Black Theatre! Why hadn’t this place popped up in my internet search?
The Nordic Black Theatre (NBT) was established in 1992 and is currently under the direction of Jarl Solberg along with Cliff A. Moustache serving as artistic director. The theatre describes itself as a “self run theatre foundation” that works within a wide spectrum of various creative arts. The Nordic Black Xpress Theatre School is also under the umbrella of NBT. Global music performances, plays, puppetry, and storytelling are just a few of the artistic renderings you'll find here. The theatre itself is reminiscent of an Elizabethan Theatre with upper level seating and thrust staging.
When I arrived, the show had already begun and the placed was packed. Since there was only room to stand and I'm...vertically challenged, I headed upstairs to get a better view. Despite having floor seating but I’d say the best seats are upstairs if you can get a spot. As a poet and spoken word artist, I’ve been to my share of open mic sets all over the United States. What I loved about Open Xpressions is that it sticks true to its name and provides a welcoming space for all types of performers and artists. The list is open to anyone from comedians, singers, rappers, poets and even novelty performers like The Yo-Yo Man! If you have any talent you want to share, you can do it here.
The most memorable performances for me were hip-hop by Ugandan rapper AfriKane and comedy by Sebastian Tjøerstad, a young man that just so happened to have been born without arms or legs. He calls his work “Stand Up/Sit Down Comedy”. Needless to say he’s hilarious! These two gracing the same stage demonstrates the inclusive culture of the Nordic Black Theatre and the bustling diversity of Oslo.
You can follow NBT on Instagram and Facebook. If you do get a chance to check out Open Xpressions get there early and come with an open mind!
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Kanika: Poet. Lover of Words. One who tells the stories of the mundane and inanimate. Bearer of Light, Water, and Sky.