Conte d’amour

Markus Öhrn, Institutet + Nya Rampen


About the Performance

The collaboration between the Swedish, Finnish and German artists who devised Conte d’amour produced the image of a frighteningly familiar monster – the one in the nightmarish figures of Josef Fritzl and Ariel Castro.

Conte d’amour is video-artist-turned-theatre-maker Markus Öhrn’s remarkable voyage into darkness. It’s an involving, implicating video-play, a Lynchian exploration of familial control composed of images that resolutely cross and re-cross the border of desire and horror. Disturbing, demanding, but absolutely necessary, Conte d’amour has toured the world since its debut in 2010. It’s like a decoder ring for patriarchal madness. It’s an endurance piece that approaches a universal language as believable as it is unthinkable.

About the company

Markus Öhrn

Markus Öhrn, born in 1972, is a visual artist from Sweden. In 2008 he obtained a master of fine arts degree at Konstfack in Stockholm. The focus of his work is video installations, which have been exhibited both in Sweden and internationally. marked Öhrn’s theater directorial debut in collaboration with the groups Institutet and Nya Rampen. He has continued collaborating with both groups ever since. Markus Öhrn lives and works in the small village of Niskanpää in northern Sweden and in Berlin.


Institutet (founded 2000) is a Swedish touring theatre group operating from Malmö and Berlin. The working method for Institutet is to build international alliances between open-minded and progressive agents and to claim space for critical thinking and for artistic approaches to life.

Nya Rampen

The Finish theatre company Nya Rampen was founded in 1999 in Helsinki. Nya Rampen is interested in pushing the doundaries of theatre, remaining open-minded towards other art forms and movements. In challenging preconceived notions of what theatre should be, the group strives to find new means of expression and ways to enter the theatre space. The company is currently based in Berlin, with a strong connection to Scandanavia.


Conte d’amour – Opening night preshow event

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 – 7pm

The story that you’re about to see onstage is inspired by actual events: the case of Joseph Fritzl, an Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter Elizabeth beneath his house for over 20 years. These events shocked and disturbed the world. But Conte d’amour ultimately suggests our horror is much more complicated than we might initially think. Why does this story, and others like it (from Natasha Kampusch to Ariel Castro) haunt us, fascinate us and disturb us? Conte d’amour emphasizes these dynamics, but it also calls attention to the fact that despite our desire to separate ourselves from these events, we may not be as distant from them as we may think. How is this love story, however frightening, connected to our own relationship to love?

In this preshow chat, University of Toronto faculty members Denise Cruz and Matthew Sergi will ask the audience to think about how our society views love, and how love and desire is culturally entangled with violence, oppression and subjugation. They’ll also provide a framework for viewing the unique methods employed by the show, which challenge us to confront and come to terms with what we initially refuse to see.

Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the opening performance of Conte d’amour.

Conte d’amour – Talkshow

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 –

Come talk with us. This is where the artists of World Stage meet with the audience outside their work – through conversation with curated guest hosts. Our talkshow events, which follow the performance, provide unparalleled contact and context.

Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to Conte d’amour.

Conte d’amour – Chats and Colloquium Series

Friday, April 4, 2014 – 2-4pm

Markus Öhrn, a video-maker by training, will discuss how he brings visual art to the theatre in Conte d’amour to invent a stage language of evocative words, multiple viewpoints, and live and recorded images.

Presented by the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto in partnership with World Stage.

Free and open to the public.

Robert Gill Theatre, 3rd Floor
214 College St.