Samovarteateret (the Samovar Theatre)

Project Spotlight: The world’s northernmost professional theatre, on the border between East and West. 

Circumpolar Collaboration Creating Possible Futures
Three performers stand in a doorway, backlit with red light. All three performers stand with one hand on a hip and one in the air.

Samovarteateret (the Samovar Theatre) is the world’s northernmost professional theatre space.

The theatre was established by Bente S. Andersen in 1990, in Kirkenes, Norway—on the border between East and West.

Note: These projects were organized prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. See Barents Secretariat’s statement on the invasion and cross-border cooperation here.

Three performers stand in a doorway, backlit with red light. All three performers stand with one hand on a hip and one in the air.

Samovar (Russian tea boiler) means self-boiling. It is warm, beautiful to look at, something that you can fill up, drain from and it is constantly simmering. Just what Samovarteateret believes that a theatre should be. Samovarteateret produces (on average) two newly-written performances every year.

The theatre is strongly engaged in Northern society, and believes that stories from the North should be told from the North. The aim is to create performances that focus on, or question, our present time.

The Samovar Theatre’s artistic practice is about creating a meeting point between people, between different artists and cultural actors, between artists and the audience, across national borders, cultures and professions.

Pictured in profile, six performers stand in a line, looking out towards the audience with their hands relaxed at their sides.

The theatre has developed a unique method for creating performances; the “Samovar methodology.” It consists of collecting and processing different themes, ideas or stories from the border region, and transferring them into our present time.

Performing artists and collaborators from the theatre’s international network are engaged and contribute with their unique culture and artistic competence in the process. The network reaches from Norway to Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland, to Spain, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia—and it is still growing.

The result is performing arts with a transnational expression, where newly written text, movement, multilingualism and music merge into a whole. The theatre believes that performing arts can communicate and touch where politics and words do not reach.

Director Bente S. Andersen and actor Turid Skoglund reflect on their work in this interview:


Get a glimpse into a couple of the theatre’s productions:

Lost in the Horizon

Supported by BarentsKult

Credit: This video was originally published by Samovarteateret on February 13, 2020. COURTESY SAMOVARTEATERET.


Lost in the Horizon was a collaboration between Samovarteateret, Kirkenes, Norway and The National Theatre of Karelia, Petrozavodsk, Russia.

In the performance Lost in the Horizon, the theatre focused on borders, horizons and how they affect us as human beings; our hopes, dreams and everyday life. It focused on power, and what it does to us as human beings—and on clinging to the hope and freedom that is on the horizon. And maybe the most important thing of all; human dignity, and the value of a human life. 

Lost in the Horizon is a highly relevant performance, seen in the light of today’s worldview. According to the UN, today 82 million human beings are moving across national borders, in search of a better future. At the same time, new walls and border zones are created all over Europe, all over the world. Closed borders. Strictly protected borders.

A projection on a darkened performance space shows two people in button-up shirts and dark pants preparing to leap in opposite directions. On the stage, a performer with their back towards the audience looks up at the two figures.

Langt ut i Tåkeheimen:

Credit: This video was originally published by Samovarteateret on November 1, 2021 COURTESY SAMOVARTEATERET.


Langt ut i Tåkeheimen was a dance performance by Samovarteateret, performed next to the sculpture Holding the Light, made by Taibola. Taibola is a group of independent artists from Arkhangelsk, Russia.

This is a commissioned work from Pomorfestivalen (in Vardø, Norway) with Norwegian and Russian participants.

Langt ut i tåkeheimen was a pilot project which will be further developed into a full-length performance. 

To learn more about Samovarteateret, visit the theatre’s website.


This story is part of the Barents Secretariat Spotlight. View more content from the Spotlight here.


The Norwegian Barents Secretariat strongly condemns Russia’s unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine.

The Barents Cooperation was established as a peace project in 1993, after 45 years of cold war. The foundation of the Barents Cooperation has always been people-to-people contact. The goal of the Barents cooperation is to remove cultural barriers and to build bridges across borders. During almost 30 years, we have gone from closed borders to close ties between the people in the Barents Region. The cooperation between people from all areas of society like schools, municipalities, NGOs and cultural institutions, the so-called people-to people-perspective, is an important keystone. Through meetings between people in the region we build down barriers and increase our mutual understanding.

Unfortunately, people-to-people cross-border cooperation in the north has long been constrained due to the increasingly authoritarian regime in Russia. The situation for civil society is now extremely difficult, and the uncertainty arising from Russia’s military attacks makes effective cross-border cooperation even more challenging. Unfortunately, the impacts of this will be felt at the local level, particularly by people living in the north.

In our spotlight the Norwegian Barents Secretariat will focus on the positive and successful cooperation between artists and cultural institutions that normally takes place across the Norwegian-Russian border.

While the Norwegian Barents Secretariat stands behind the Norwegian government’s demand that Russia immediately ceases its military operations and seeks a peaceful solution, we will continue to support people-to-people cooperation and contact. In the current situation we have suspended contact and cooperation with official Russian entities, but encourage contact and cooperation with independent Russian artists and organisations.