| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 13 Sometimes the best way to get
to the heart of a story is through the elbow, said Ivar Pall
Jonsson, the Icelandic creator of the new rock musical
"Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter."
The musical, which debuts on Wednesday at the Minetta Lane
Theater in New York, is about the consequences of the global
financial crisis of 2008, which triggered the collapse of
Iceland's banking system and resulted in the criminal
convictions of some of its leaders.
"Despite the serious nature of the subject, the piece is
meant to entertain - first and foremost," said Jonsson, a former
journalist from Reykjavik.
He put the cautionary tale in a surreal setting because he
said it allowed him to simplify and focus on the heart of the
Jonsson spoke to Reuters about where the idea for the
musical about love and deception in Elbowville originated, and
why he set the musical in an elbow.
Q: Why did you write "Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar
Agnarsson Furniture Painter"?
A: Writing music is a necessity for me, and I get really
restless if I don't have my guitar around. This restlessness of
the mind also means I have a constant flow of ideas in my head,
and I am particularly fascinated by people, in their never
I love the idea of a person, whom many would probably find
rather unattractive, a furniture painter couch potato, and the
thought of a society of tiny people living inside him ...
And I had a story to tell. It is a story that is highly
relevant to everyone in the world today. I don't think I should
say more right now. Let's just say that this story collides the
things that matter in life; family, love and humanity, with
false prosperity. It's certainly a critique of the financial
system of the world, but perhaps not exactly in the way you
might think. I think the greatest evil is in the system - not
the people. Most people want to do good.
Q: Where did the idea for setting this in an elbow come
A: I find it fascinating to imagine an entire world inside a
person, and I think it's fun. I also wanted to tell the story in
an abstract way. I wanted to convey the heart of it, without the
distraction of certain persons or specific events. So, I chose
this surreal setting. It allows me to simplify and focus on the
heart of the story.
Q: Why the elbow and not the knuckle, knee or some other
A: This boils down to a basic existential question. Are we
really sure we're not inside someone's elbow? What is on the
other side of the Big Bang? We don't know why we're here.
Q: Is there a real town that inspired Elbowville?
A: I experienced the financial bubble and subsequent crash
in Iceland. I suppose Elbowville is inspired by that fact. It's
a backwater town inside Ragnar Agnarsson's body, where the
inhabitants can travel to foreign countries such as Texass, The
Hills of Kidney and Hipsburg.
Q: Is this a morality play?
A: This is a story of what happens when people lose
themselves in an artificial world, where they are shielded from
reality, until it hits them in the face.
In general, these are good people, who mean well. They
convince themselves that what they do is furthering prosperity,
while the opposite is true. At the end of the day, we're all in
this together. The answer to financial violence is not more
violence. It is love. It is a personal revolution, where you
decide not to enable them and their system anymore.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with "Revolution in the
Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter"?
A: I hope I will be able to move people and make them think.
My art is about finding the common ground between us all - this
shared humanity and empathy. And, it's time to wake up from the
virtual reality and face the world, through a peaceful personal
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson)