Jan Jonson, extraordinary actor and production director performed before professors and students of Sorbonne University in Paris (Centre Malesherbes) on 10.04.2012, presenting like mosaic several parts of his generous work of Waiting for Godot at San Quentin.
Beckett’s play found its truly meaning in the souls of incarcerated persons via performing arts which inspired particularly their intellectual curiosity empower their personal development, and enable to share an experience of self-recognition. But beyond these pedagogical, therapeutic and artistic aspects of theatre-in-prison, the experience Jan Jonson brought to prisoners was an experience of living and feeling free. Jonson’s astonishing performance connected the audience with the reality of life in prison and provoked some deepest emotions, which audience mostly didn’t hide.
Jan Jonson was invited to give lecture-performance at Sorbonne by Marketa Theinhardt, director of Intercultural studies CIMER. As recognition of his important and devoted work, Jan Jonson was named Cross-Cultural Ambassador of UNESCO Club Sorbonne and he received the formal recognition in the Headquarters of French Federation for UNESCO Clubs.
Jan Jonson’s BIO :
Born: In 1947 November the 27th in Malmö Sweden. Grown up in Gothenburg Sweden.
1961 » Barefoot, dressed in a transparent shirt with long sleeves and a pair of pale trousers
which ended right underneath my knees, I stood at the age of fourteen behind the scenes at Folkteaterin Gotheburg, Sweden, warming myself under a stage light, and watched the actors who performed the roles of Vladimir and estragon in Samuel Beckett´s Waiting for Godot. I performed the role of A Boy twice per night, in the end of the first and second act, and informed in one breath Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won´t come this evening but surely tomorrow. With time it became a ritual hiding behind the scenes under the warm light, from the curtain went up until it came down again. I wanted to listen to their feelings, follow the story and feel the temperature on the stage, before I carefully entered to leave my message. Something was ignited inside me. »
1968-1971: The Academy of Dramatic Art at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm Sweden.
1971-1980: Actor at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm Sweden.
Performed in Shakespeare – Strindberg – Ibsen – Brecht – Goldoni – Commedia del Arté and modern drama.
Between 1972 and 1973 Jan Jonson was an « Observer » at the « Old Vic » The National Theatre in London England.
1980 Freelance Actor and Director
1985 – 1986: Directed Samuel Becketts play « Waiting for Godot » at the Kumla Maximum security prison in Sweden.
1987 – 1988: Directed the same play at San Quentin State Prison in California USA.
This two productions was in a close cooperation with Samuel Beckett himself, during the five years until his death.
1994 – Published a book « Moments of Reality » which is Jan Jonsons own story of the theatre productions that changed his life, and of his meetings with Samuel Beckett in Paris. This book is about desperate and isolated people´s fight for a human dignity, and a language of expression and about the love of this absurd piece of theatre, which in the mouth of a prisoner becomes a realistic drama – the captive´s moments of reality. Published in two editions, 1994 by Wahlström & Widstrand Stockholm Sweden and 2004 by Jan Jonson.
2000 – 2001: Directed the stage production of Federico Garcia Lorcas « The house of Bernarda Alba » at Department of Correction and Rehabilitation at Hinseberg Frövi a maximum security prison for women in Sweden.
2002 – 2003: Directed Samuel Becketts play « Endgame » at Department of Correction and Rehabilitation at « ILA » maximum security prison in Oslo Norway.
2007 – 2008: Directed Samuel Becketts play « Happy Days » at Department of Correction and Rehabilitation at Sagsjö maximum security prison for women in Lindome Sweden.
In all this productions Jan Jonson has been working with inmates as actors. The audience has been exists of other inmates, staff people, family members to the actors, universities, and invited people from outside. Since 1989 has Jan Jonson performed a stage performance (A monologue) which is based on his book « Moments of Reality », in theatres, universities and prisons all over Europe, United States, Russia, Belarus and Estonia. RADIO PRODUCTIONS: 2000 and 2009 « Moments of Reality » As a radio Theatre, with music by Bob Dylan Produced by the Swedish Radio Theatre Stockholm Sweden.
Published as a double CD with booklets. Home Boys TV Documentary by Björn Carlgren
Produced By Björn Carlgren and SVT Stockholm Sweden 1989.
A documentary about Donald Twin James and Reginald Happy Wilson after the work with Waiting for Godot at Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations at San Quentin State Prison.
1985 – 1986: « Godot in Jail » A film documentary of the film director and poet Jösta Hagelbäck, this documentary is about Jan Jonsons work of directing and performing Samuel Becketts play « Waiting for Godot » (the first act) at Kumla maximum security prison in Sweden.
Production by « Måsen Film » Stockholm Sweden. 1988: « Waiting for Godot » at San Quentin – a work in progress
Documentary film by John Reilly
Produced by Global Village in New York USA.
2006: « Prisonners de Beckett » A film documentary about the hole works with « Waiting for Godot » at Kumla maximum security prison in Sweden. Directed by Michka Saal. Music by Bob Dylan.
Produced by Jacques Debs and Delphine Morel at ADR Production in Paris France. This film has been invited to following festivals: Marseille, Lisbonne, Tybingen, Nouveau Cinema, Montreal Rencontres du Documentaire, Contemporian, Festival of Creteil, Cinema du Reel, Centre Beaubourg, Paris 2007. Awards for this film: Selected for Pri Europa, Berlin.
Nominated for Gemini Awards: Best writing and best producing in a documentary; Toronto Canada. Festival De Cannes 2007 Selection ACID.
2006: « Ansikt til Ansikt » – « Face to face » An interview documentary by the Photografer Morten Krogvold. This film is about why and how Jan Jonson is working with people in darkness.
Produced by Fabelaktiv AS Oslo Norway. Dozens of news summary from television, radio and newspaper in Sweden, Norway, France, Russia, Belarus, Estonia, San Francisco California.
From CNN in California and Global Village in New York.
2006: « Beckett Remembering – Remembering Beckett » Uncollected Interviews with Samuel Beckett, And Memories Of Those Who Knew Him. By James and Elisabeth Knowlson. Published: by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London England 2006.
2006: Was Herr Godot mir gesagt hat Begegnung mit Samuel Beckett. Von Jan Jonson.
Published by Suhrkamp Verlag Insel Verlag Frankfurt am Main Germany
Published only in Germany.
1994: « Directing Beckett » Inteviews with and essays by twenty-two prominent directors of Samuel Becketts work. By Lois Oppenheim. Published by The University of Michigan Press.
1989: From The Royal Swedish Academy: Artistic Culture Award.
2011: Winner of the Terra Incognita Theatre Festival at Interior Theatre in Sankt Petersburg Russia – To Jan Jonson In the Nomination The Discovery Of The Director for the Unique Concept Of An Artistic Project Moments of Reality
Produced by Elena Nordström NGO N-Studio Stockholm Sweden. Project Theatre in Prison
“The tears of the world are constant quantity For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops The same is true of the laugh Let us not then speak ill of our generation, It is not any unhappier than its predecessors Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all.”
From Samuel Becketts « Waiting for Godot »