Historical Gesture

Minna Nyberg has since 2014 introduced the art of historical gesture (also called historically informed acting) in Finland. It is the art of acting used during the 17th and 18th centuries and is reconstructed on the basis of knowledge retrieved from historical sources. Minna is Finland’s only specialist in this art.

She has specialized in the art form under the direction of Sigrid T’Hooft 2014-2017 and since 2018 she develops her skills with an emphasis on stage directing with Deda Cristina Colonna in Milano. Minna has performed many gesture concerts in Finland: Love Madness and Despair, Nine Divinties – An Evening Inspired by the Muses, Le Caffé och Hulluna sinuun (Crazy for You). In 2018 she made her stage directing debut with the gesture concert Love, Treachery & Frogs – Tales of Women. Minna’s play The Crab – Change is the Remedy for the Ills of Life (2021), in which she took on the roles as actor, dramaturge and stage director, received broad media coverage and was appreciated by the public as well as critics.

As an artist and stage director Minna seeks to combine past and present. She is particularly interested in themes that have followed humankind through time: gender roles, vulnerability, inequality and love in all its shapes and forms. While her staged work is strongly based on historical style and esthetics, she also draws inspiration from modern performing arts.

Barbro Enckell-Grimm’s review of The Crab in Hufvudstadsbladet (November 25th 2021):

“Minna Nyberg’s The Crab makes us reflect upon how old the new is. Humankind has had to change for centuries but still we know that the resolution of tragedy is inevitable.

When Minna Nyberg now has taken on the art of historical gesture and mime it feels refreshing. Especially as she has done solid background work, written a manuscript which, despite standing on many legs (texts by William Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Queen Kristina and Nyberg herself), feels like an organically well functioning whole exactly suited to her historical way of performing it.

The hour-long musical play / monologue feels in no way forced and contains eternal themes such as vulnerability and hatred of women, shifting between gender identities and the interplay between falsehood and genuineness where everything intertwines depending on one’s perspective.”

Furthermore, Minna’s work with historically informed acting received unexpected recognition when curator Laura Gutman created the art exhibition Staging Emotions at Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki 2018-19 inspired by one of Minna’s performances. Minna also held an appreciated musical lecture at the museum about historically informed acting.

Foundations that have supported Minna’s gesture work are The Swedish Culture Foundation in Finland, Föreningen Konstsamfundet, The Finnish Culture Foundation, Nygréns Stiftelse, Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse, Otto A. Malms Donationsfond, Stiftelsen Tre Smeder and Svenska Folkskolans Vänner.

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