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Bjørn Bjørnson

Bjørnson vs. Ibsen

Bjørn Bjørnson was the first Artistic Director at the National Theatre. 

He was the son of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and the story goes that he one day in 1899, close to the opening, encountered Henrik Ibsen taking his daily stroll towards the Grand Café. “Have you decided on an inaugural production?”, Ibsen asked. “I intend to produce one of my father’s plays,” Bjørnson replied. “But I’m four years older than your father,” Ibsen responded. “Should you not produce one of my plays first?” Bjørn Bjørnson was faced with a dilemma – and solved it by opting for three inaugural productions: one by Holberg, one by Ibsen, and one by Bjørnson.

Bjørn Bjørnson was Artistic Director twice. He first held the role between 1899 and 1907. A great emphasis was placed on Norwegian drama, and Bjørnson was no idler. During those eight years he directed 78 plays, acting in 12 of them! 24 of those plays were written by his father, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, while 15 were by Henrik Ibsen.