Iceland’s Most Popular Musical Ends its Run

Musical Níu líf at Borgarleikhúsið

The 250th show of Níu líf, a musical based on the life of singer Bubbi Morthens, will be its last. The musical has been running at Reykjavík City Theatre since early 2020 when its run was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic after only three shows.

The show follows the many public personas of Bubbi during his colourful musical career, hence the title which in English translates to Nine Lives. Director and playwright Ólafur Egill Egilsson and actor Esther Talía Casey, a married couple and collaborators in the show, were interviewed by Vísir on the occasion of the show ending.

Unexpected success

“It will be an emotional moment, that’s for sure,” Esther said. “We’ll likely cry our eyes out and shake. We’re a closely knit theatre family and we’ve faced many challenges during this time, so it will have been a rollercoaster ride.”

They say they never expected the show to be as successful as it’s been and for it to break attendance records and still be running four years after its premiere – albeit with a pandemic delaying part of its run. “We always knew that Bubbi had a special place in the nation’s heart, so we knew that his fans would show up,” Ólafur said. But we couldn’t foresee the show getting such a warm reception.”

Perfect attendance

Esther said that she’s the only cast member, including the live band, who has been at every show. She plays a number of roles, including Bubbi’s mother and Hrafnhildur, his wife. “I was lucky that every time I was sick, it was in between shows,” she said. “This show will alway have a special place in my heart.”

“It’s a story of time periods and social upheaval, of a person’s freedom to be whoever they want, finding the courage to face their destiny and stand tall in the face of challenging life experiences,” Ólafur said. “We’re very happy to have been able to cover Bubbi’s career, life, and values, while telling a story that most people can identify with.”

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Minister Booed During Fish Farming Protest Last Saturday

Laxeldi Austurvöllur sjókví Lax

A protest against open-sea aquaculture drew a significant crowd at Austurvöllur Square in Reykjavík on Saturday. Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, who was booed, acknowledged the need for action and expressed appreciation for the public’s defence of Icelandic nature.

Insecticide poured over dead fish

On Saturday, Austurvöllur Square in Reykjavík became the focal point of a protest against open-sea aquaculture in Iceland. Farmers and landowners from across the country converged at the square, with a procession originating from the University of Iceland’s parking area leading up to the main event at Austurvöllur.

The event featured several speakers, including fisherman Árni Pétur Hilmarsson and biologist Jóhannes Sturlaugsson. During his address, Sturlaugsson emphatically stated, “We all protest!” – a reference to a protest of Danish imposition in the 19th century led by Independence leader Jón Sigurðssons – a sentiment that garnered considerable applause from the attendees.

Musician Bubbi Morthens set the tone for the protest by performing two songs to open the event. Inga Lind Karlsdóttir took on the role of moderator, guiding the event and addressing the gathered crowd.

As reported by Vísir, the protest witnessed an unexpected turn of events towards its conclusion. Inga Lind directed the protestors to pour insecticide over Austurvöllur and on dead fish, using containers that the organisers had placed near the stage; the act was meant to symbolise the numerous instances where poison has been released into the fjords of the country.

Minister booed by protestors

As noted by RÚV, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, the Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate, faced criticism for the government’s inaction regarding salmon farming issues at the protest. He stated that the matter did not fall under the purview of his ministry, acknowledging, however, the challenge posed by the organisers for the authorities to take responsibility, protect nature, and prohibit open-sea aquaculture near the coast.

Following this, Guðlaugur Þór expressed appreciation for the significant turnout at the protest and thanked the public for defending Icelandic nature. There were subsequent calls for the authorities to take similar actions:

“People can criticise me as they wish. But if one looks at what I’ve said and done, perhaps there would be less of it. That’s beside the point, as I’m not the main focus here. That’s evident. Your message is clear, and I thank you for taking the initiative to organise this, for showing up and demonstrating solidarity with Icelandic nature. Actions will be taken based on this, and this meeting truly matters. I sincerely thank you for that,” Guðlaugur Þór remarked.

In an interview with Vísir after his speech, Guðlaugur Þór iterated that aquaculture was not within his purview but acknowledged its significance, referring to the alleged violations of Arctic Sea Farm.

A Hurricane Called “English” Is Sweeping Across Iceland – Bubbi

Bubbi Morthens

In an op-ed in Morgunblaðið yesterday, musician Bubbi Morthens criticised the government, the tourism industry, and restaurateurs for pandering to English speakers. It was one thing for the tourism industry to make a profit, Bubbi observed, but another to wage war against the Icelandic language.

A hurricane called “English”

“A hurricane called English is sweeping across the country and uprooting our language,” musician Bubbi Morthens wrote in an article published in Morgunblaðið yesterday.

In the article – which is entitled The War on Language, in reference to an article authored by Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness, the War on Nature (wherein the latter criticised the government’s plans for the construction of power plants) – Bubbi criticised the growing influence of the English language within Icelandic society.

Reykjavík, he noted, was filled with English signage, restaurants opted for English as their first language, and local interest groups had begun to write letters to the government in the English language.

Roll up your sleeves

While encouraging the tourism industry to “grab a hold of itself,” Bubbi also urged the government, members of parliament, and artists to roll up their sleeves: “We’ve come to a point where all of us who live here have to ask ourselves: Do we want to speak Icelandic? Do we want to read Icelandic? Do we want to sing our Icelandic songs with all the words that we understand with our heart and soul?”

According to Bubbi, if the answer is “yes,” people could no longer sit idly by; the time had come to fight for the mother tongue. “Government of Iceland, parliamentarians of our country, artists, all citizens, wherever we may find ourselves: let’s get a hold of ourselves.”

Bubbi also noted that the tourism industry had to take action. Making a profit was one thing, but waging a war against the Icelandic language was quite another: “Without our language, we are nothing but a fine-natured rock in the North Atlantic. As opposed to an independent nation residing in its own country.”

Everyone welcome

As noted by Vísir, Bubbi concluded his op-ed by clarifying that “everyone was welcome” in Iceland. “The people who want to live in Iceland enrich our country and our culture, but it is important to help them by teaching them to speak our language.”

“Icelandic is the glue that binds us all together, our mother, our father, in fact, our higher power. In Icelandic ‘you can always find an answer,’ the poet observed – and we must, now later than now, find an answer to this war against our mother tongue. Our lifeline. We must all as one, put our foot down and take a stand in defence of our language.”

Raising Your Voice

Bubbi Morthens in Harpa

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”10px”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1559924148803{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]“I’m not necessarily talking about my music, I’m talking about the burning issues,” Bubbi Morthens tells me, as we sit in a bakery in the town of Mosfellsbær. Though we’re here to talk about his career, he steers the conversation through topics like refugees, populism, and climate change. For nearly 40 […]

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