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The Good City in focus

2015-11-20

Rehearsals for the famous musical West Side Story.

During autumn 2015, Uppsala University is inviting people to a series of performances of the well-known musical West Side Story. Seminars, debates and lectures on the theme of ‘The Good City’ are also being held.

‘The Good City’ is a collaborative project linking the arts and sciences together.Some 20 activities are planned for the autumn with an emphasis on outsiderness and togetherness issues.

A key element in ‘The Good City’ is West Side Story, one of the 20th century’s most popular musicals. The plot is about xenophobia, outsiderness and gang mentality in an urban setting, but also dreams and yearning for a different life.

The production is being staged by the University, and there will be ten performances in Svandammshallarna, Uppsala, in November.

West Side Story is a Romeo and Juliet tale in a modern urban context, about the city as an environment to live in. As well as staging the musical, we want to invite people to join discussions and debates about urban development,’ says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg, who chairs the project steering group.

‘The theme of the musical is highly topical today, and easy to tie in with current research at the University.’

Dan Turdén, the producer, wants the audience leave the venue moved and inspired. The theme of the musical is as relevant today as in 1950s New York.

 ‘Today too, there are young people with no adults nearby, games that get out of hand and gangs that form. Bernstein also succeeds in portraying youthful first love in a way that’s extremely easy to recognise. It’s the only source of light in the piece, which is otherwise a tragedy.’

The venue is a former tennis hall in Svandammshallarna. The actors are young, selected by audition, and the music is provided by the University’s own Royal Academic Orchestra.

‘The original 1957 production had an orchestra over 30 strong, but we’ve gone in for a larger string section and more wind instruments. We’ll have some 50 musicians at every performance, so the orchestra will pack more of a punch than it normally does,’ says Stefan Karpe, the conductor.

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FACTS: Multiple stakeholders

‘The Good City’ is a project implemented by Uppsala University jointly with several partners, the principal ones being the municipality of Uppsala and the building firm SH Bygg.