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Theatres and venues are locked down in Sweden, just like elsewhere. All arts activities are turned upside down by the pandemic. In Sweden the lock down is far more liberal than in many other countries, but the theatre and dance seasons are already closed, the popular summer festivals and open-air performances are also cancelled. Most theatre critics are freelancers and find themselves in a new and more challenging position than ever.

The great creativity of artists, playwrights, stage directors, actors and dancers is, however, inspiring. The Swedish Critics’ association wrote a letter to the Minister of Culture to explain the painful situation of the critics, arguing for the essential role of critics in relation to theatre, dance and music theatre. A special Corona budget has been created in support of the arts and culture sector and its many artists. The critics, a vital part of theatre’s eco system, should also benefit from this special budget to save the arts.

In order to keep the public eye, the newly elected board of the Swedish critics and the new president of the Swedish association, Theresa Benér, decided that the annual prizes for theatre, dance and young audiences theatre would be presented in a new way. The critics will hand over the awards to the laureates during live-streamed online conversations on their artistic work.

The theatre prize 2020 goes to Livia Millhagen, actress at the National Dramatic Theatre, for her part as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire; the dance prize goes to internationally renowned and acclaimed choreographer Alexander Ekman for his voluptuous piece Eskapist for the National Opera. The trilogy of artist talks will be launched with the creators awarded with the young audience theatre prize, for their provocative production in a regional theatre in West Sweden. Each prize will have its own live-streamed talk with the awardee, hopefully of great interest to all lovers of the performing arts.


Eskapist by choreographer Alexander Ekman, production of the Royal Swedish Ballet at the Stockholm Opera House, is the winner of the dance prize 2020 of the Swedish Critics’ association. Photo: Nils-Emil Nylander.