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Panorama picture from Verdal Municipality in Norway




THE SAINT OLAV DRAMA

Every year, about 20 000 people come to watch a dramatic presentation of the events that led up to the battle in 1030. For many people, Stiklestad is best known for -"The Saint Olav Drama" - which is performed each year in the end of July. "The Saint Olav Drama" will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2004, making it the oldest open-air play in Norway. The script is by Olav Gullvåg, while Paul Okkenhaug has composed the music. The open-air stage and amphitheatre courtyard has been built for "The Saint Olav Drama", but the facility is also used for other events. There are space for about 10 000 spectators in the amphitheatre, with ample seating for 5400. The stage also has plenty of space for large-scales scenes, making Stiklestad the biggest open-air theatre in the Nordic countries.

When the drama starts, the audience is swept back to a different age. The events of "The Saint Olav drama", take place on the mountain farm, called Sul, a few days before the battle in 1030. We meet the farm people busy with the everyday tasks of the haying season, and we see that some of the king`s leading opponents have arrived to look for soldiers. Some wants to fight against the king, others for him. This creates divisions in the community, and there are rifts between pagans and followers of the new faith. People are also experiencing internal conflicts, and we understand that the confrontation with new forces creates a different situation for them to tackle.

From its beginning in 1954, the play has always been a team effort between professionals and amateurs. Every year, some of Norway`s leading actors play in the central roles, while amateurs from Verdal and neighbouring villages take on smaller parts. Amateurs also fill the walk-on parts, and some take part year after year. A large voluntary organization is needed to support the few professional actors and musicians. Some sing in the choir, some sell tickets,other butter bread. It would be impossible to put on the play without the efforts of these volunteers.