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Bjørnson and "The Journey to the Christmas Star"

When Halfdan Christensen quit, there was only one applicant for the position of Artistic Director, and he was out of the question.

Many of the theatre’s actors united in asking the board to reinstate Bjørn Bjørnson as Artistic Director. And so they did, one year before the National Theatre’s 25-year anniversary. Bjørnson was 64 years old and had spent a lot of time abroad since his last stint, but he approached this sizeable task with gusto.

1924 was a banner year in the history of the National Theatre. Boxing Day saw the premiere of The Journey to the Christmas Star (Reisen til julestjernen), written by Sverre Brandt, the theatre’s Financial Director, with music by Johan Halvorsen. This was the first children’s play with a Christmas theme, and it became one of the theatre’s greatest ever successes, which would rescue the theatre’s finances on more than one occasion. The play has been a recurring favourite in the weeks leading up to Christmas ever since. Bjørn Bjørnson took over a theatre going through an economic downturn. He gave up after four years, but did not sever all ties to the theatre. Despite settling down in Italy, he came back to the theatre as a visiting director on several occasions.