Behind the curtains (at Boel)

Photo: Cornelia Jönsson, Boelspexarna

It’s the end of February and the date for Boelspexarnas return set of Henry VIII is getting closer and closer. The rehearsals are already an everyday occurrence for the Boel ensemble but I still manage to get the privilege of a sit down interview with none other than king Henry, also known as Elvira Månsson,the vice director of Boelspexarna. The spex group started in 1994 as a reaction to the traditionally maledominant spex industry. The purpose of Boel was, and still is, to create a forum for women to be on stage but also to highlight women throughout history.

I meet her at the great hall in the AF-castle and the room is filled with life and laughter. On stage the preparations are going on in full speed, a girl is painting a big wooden coffin and from across the room you can hear the tunes of a saxophone warming up the chords. Everyone seems excited for the big day and there’s no doubt about how the students who are here love what they do.

We sit down and she tells me she has been a part of the spex group since 2012. Elvira has been involved in the group for the last seven years, and she’s been taking the stage by storm for three of them. Impressive. I ask her her what her absolute favourite memory has been during all those years.

Elvira: “Definitely our opening night at our 20 years jubileum in 2014. That’s when we wrote the now famous snapsvisa “Finland är Finland”, which not a lot people know. It’s to the melody “högt över havet” by Arja Saijonmaa so we made her honorary member for the show that year. Arja even flew down to accept her diploma and even performed the original song on stage for our sold out performance. But also the everyday moments with the ensemble, how we all gather backstage before each show to have pep talk and sing songs together to get extra excited.”

Emma: “Well, the highlight of the semester is coming up soon, tell us, how does a normal day of performance look like?”

Elvira: Well it depends on which show and which branch of the spex you’re a part of. If it’s the actresses on the opening day we meet up for lunch at Grand hotel and read the review published in “Lundagård” from the final rehearsal the day before. Then we’re more or less free until it’s your time to do your makeup. We sit backstage sipping drinks while we get our makeup and microphones on and then it’s time to get changed into your costume and start getting excited before meeting up backstage right before the performance. After the show we of course end with a sittning.

Emma: Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?

Elvira: Not exactly embarrassing, I would rather say it’s funny if anything unexpected happens, if anything fall down from the scenery or if anyone forgets their line and it needs improvisation to save.

Emma: What would you say is the most enjoyable thing about being in a theatre group?

Elvira: Definitely all the people you get to meet, you get this amazing mixture of people and a huge network of people who might not even study in the same field as you. It’s so fun to have something outside of studying that you might not even been able to do in “regular” life without proper scene school education.

It’s time for the king to join his wifes and other co-actresses at rehearsals and I’m left alone in the creative cluster. You can still hear various instrument practicing, preparations being made and I leave with a greater understanding of all the hard work, love and effort that goes into spex.

So what can we all then expect from this weekend’s shows? Well apart from lots of fat and short jokes there will be satirical songs, great decor and clothing which really takes the entire show to another level and of course a group of talented power ladies on stage and maybe even a surprise or two.

A big thank you and applause to Boelspexarnal for taking the time for this interview. Break a leg this weekend!

*Curtains drop*

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