Who Is Nanna Gunnars?
Hi! I’m Nanna Gunnars.
I am born in Iceland in 1984, but have lived in 7 countries around the world.
I studied European Theatre Arts at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, and graduated from there with a BA (Hons) in 2012. In my second year at Rose Bruford College, I went on a 3 month exchange program at Eesti Muusika ja Teatriakadeemia (Estonian Music and Theatre Academy) in Tallinn.
Following my graduation I stayed in London for an additional 4 years, performing on stage and in films, but mostly in genre-defying, interactive, immersive theatre, games or promenades. I am extremely inspired by the works of Punchdrunk, Secret Cinema, Vesturport and You Me Bum Bum Train.
In 2016 I decided to move back to Iceland with my British partner Owen Hindley. He is a creative technologist, and we decided to start an event company together called Huldufugl. Owen came up with the name. We mix together immersive theatrical productions with creative technology. Since we started the company has gone on to make several varied productions, most notably the multi-awarded and constantly sold-out VR show A Box In The Desert.
In 2018 I decided to start the Reykjavík Fringe Festival, an annual arts festival that offers artists a space to test out new work.
So I work as an actress, a producer, a writer, a party host, an event manager, a lecturer, a stilt walker, a voiceover artist and as a tourist guide. I was even a foot model once!
I’m also a decent chef and addicted to cheese and travel.
If you’re looking for someone to perform in an immersive event, voice a character in a videogame, host a party or an event (or help you plan it) or if you need a creative partner for an exciting project, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hidden People [Working Title]
Theatre & Circus
Performer, Creator & Producer
The Hidden People is a work in progress that’s a collaboration between Huldufugl and the British circus duet Hikapee.
The show will combine Icelandic folklore of the hidden people with aerial circus, physical theatre and creative technology.
The creation of the show started in late 2018, when Hikapee came to Iceland for a 2 week research and development phase. Huldufugl went to the UK in February 2019 and performed a 40 minute work-in-progress sharing at Jacksons Lane Theatre on 1st of March 2019. The second research and development phase is currently taking place, both in the UK and in Finland and will end in January 2020.
This performance has had support from:
Arts Council England
Jacksons Lane Theatre
101 Outdoor Arts
The Finnish Institute
Robin Boot Photography
Funding dependant, the performance should be ready to tour at the end of 2020.
Iceland and UK, 2020.
Kassinn / A Box In The Desert
Virtual Reality Theatre installation
Performer & Producer
Imagine one day, you wake up inside an invisible box, unable to escape. Kassinn is an engaging, but playful, interactive theatre performance with a live actor in virtual reality. Will you trust this mysterious stranger? Or listen to the voice in your head, trying to get you out?
Kassinn, (English title “A Box In The Desert”), was a short play I wrote for Uppsprettan in Tjarnarbíó in 2016. In 2017 this play was transformed into a piece of virtual reality theatre.
In it, one audience at a time is ‘trapped’ inside a box, both physically and virtually. In order to escape the box, the audience member needs to get help from an outsider, performed by an actor/actress in a motion capture suit on the outside of the box. The performer is transformed into a virtual character within the virtual world, with all its movements happening in real time.
The audience member and the performer can both hear each other and speak to each other throughout the performance, meaning the play is semi-scripted and semi-improvised.
By making the performance take place in the virtual world, it’s possibly to create anything, and do swift changes from normality to a completely different environment – there are no limits.
The play was developed for a longer run at Reykjavík Fringe in July 2018, with an added character of a voice inside your head, in contrast to the character outside the box. Initially that voiceover was done by me, as I was unable to perform live during the RVK Fringe. In its current version, Ástþór Ágústsson and I take turns in performing in the show. This version was invited to the Stockholm Fringe Festival in September 2018, and subsequently went on to tour around Europe and USA in 2019, selling out wherever it went and winning numerous awards.
This is a Huldufugl production, an events company I run with creative technologist Owen Hindley.
Performers: Nanna Gunnars, Ástþór Ágústsson
VR Design and direction: Owen Hindley
Music: Iris Thorarins
Sound: Ragnar Hrafnkelsson
Concept Development: Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
Additional 3D design, build: Jacob Andersson
First version had support from PuppIT and sponsorship from Landsbankinn.
WINNER: Best Interactive Narrative Experience, Raindance Film Festival 2019
WINNER: Outstanding USA Premiere, San Diego Fringe Festival 2019
WINNER: Most Amazing Game Award, A Maze Festival, Berlin 2019
WINNER: Innovation in Performance, Stockholm International Fringe Festival 2018
NOMINATED: GRAND PRIX, Stockholm International Fringe Festival 2018
RVK Fringe, Stockholm Fringe, 2018.
A Maze, Brighton Fringe, Jacksons Lane Theatre, private performances in LA, San Diego Fringe, RVK Fringe, Raindance Film Festival, 2019.
Reykjavík Fringe Festival
Annual Arts Festival
Reykjavík Fringe Festival took place for the first time in the summer of 2018, from the 4th until the 8th of July. The festival focuses on local talent and Nordic performances, but is open to global acts.
In February 2018 I was thinking it was a shame that Reykjavík Fringe that was supposed to take place the previous year didn’t happen. I was looking for places to take a show to. And then I thought to myself ‘Why don’t I just run a Fringe festival in Reykjavík myself?’ I got in touch with the team that was behind the idea a year earlier, and they agreed to letting me take over the festival.
Luckily I immediately got a fantastic team to work with, and four months later the first Reykjavík Fringe festival took place, now an annual event.
All sectors of art are welcome at the Reykjavík Fringe Festival, including but not limited to theatre, dance, circus, stand-up comedy, cabaret, music, installations, new media, drag, site-specific works, physical theatre, children’s shows, outdoor performances, promenades, film, exhibitions, workshops, magic, clowning.
Reykjavik Fringe Festival is a part of the Nordic Fringe Network, a collaboration between a number of Fringe festivals across the Nordic countries.
Festival Director: Nanna Gunnars
Production Manager: Jessica LoMonaco
Planning and CFO: Sindri Þór Sigríðarson
“Reykjavik Fringe, a bit like the much-missed Forest Fringe used to be in Edinburgh, gives people a supportive framework to make work that’s porous and freeform and uncategorisable.” – Exeunt Magazine
Media (in English):
Encounters with Reykjavik Fringe
A Party Full of Art
Reykjavík Fringe Festival: Open That Mother Fringing Curtain
Fringe Theater Flourishing in Iceland: An Interview with RVK Fringe Festival Director Nanna Gunnars
Rose Bruford College Graduate Launches Inaugural Reykjavik Fringe Festival
Media (in Icelandic):
Leiklistarveisla á jaðrinum
Hundrað verk frá 25 löndum á Reykjavík Fringe
Stefnumót við heppinn áhorfanda
Fjöllistahátíð haldin í fyrsta sinn á Íslandi – Komdu í opnunarpartý á morgun
Fjörugt á Reykjavík Fringe Festival
Jaðarvettvangur fyrir öðruvísi list
Reykjavík, from 2018.
Raindance Immersive Summit
Huldufugl was a part of the official selection at Raindance Film Festival 2019, and we were asked to present our work and then take part in a panel discussion at the Raindance Immersive Summit presented by Bose.
The panel title was: Location-based Entertainment, New Avenues for XR Showcase, Audience Engagement and Monetisation.
Raindance Film Festival, Vue Piccadilly, London, 26 September 2019.
Halfway to Fringe Party
Each January we have a Halfway to Fringe countdown party. This is when the open call has just ended or is about to end, and there’s 6 months until the Reykjavík Fringe begins. The Halfway party (as well as the opening party at the festival itself) takes place at Hlemmur Square, one of the festival’s main sponsors.
We use this party to advertise the RVK Fringe and educate our partygoers about the festival, so I give a short speech about the festival to the crowd.
RVK Fringe Halfway Party, Hlemmur Square, 2019.
Isle of Games
After winning the main prize at A Maze Festival in Berlin for the show Kassinn I was asked to give a talk at the game festival Isle of Games that takes place annually for one day in IÐNÓ in the centre of Reykjavík
The title of the talk was “Making Kassinn, VR Meets Interactive Theatre” and explained how interactive theatre was merged with Huldufugl’s production of Kassinn (A Box In The Desert). The performance can be classified as a theatre performance, but also as an escape room or a multiplayer video game.
Isle of Games, Reykjavík, 2019.
Háskóli Íslands / University of Iceland
In 2019 when preparing for the second Reykjavík Fringe Festival, I gave a talk at the University of Iceland along with my production manager Jessica LoMonaco to students in Event Management & Recreational Studies. We spoke about starting a festival from nothing, the difficulties we faced and the opportunities that came up.
University of Iceland, February 2019.
What the Fringe?
In preparation for the second RVK Fringe Festival I hosted a talk called What the Fringe? at Tjarnarbíó in November 2018. This was a semi informal talk that was open to the public and I sat down with attendees afterwards to answer any and all questions.
Tjarnarbíó, November 2018.
Poetry Brothel Reykjavík
Producer & Performer
Rauða skáldahúsið, or Poetry Brothel Reykjavík, has been taking place regularly in IÐNÓ in downtown Reykjavík from May 2017.
Poetry Brothels can be found around the world, with the first one taking place in New York City in 2007. In them, audience members can purchase private readings with poets, as well as enjoy live entertainment in the form of music, circus, burlesque and more.
Reykjavík’s Poetry Brothel generally has a cast of about 20-30 people. There are around 10 poets each night, plus one star poet. There is a resident house witch, that does tarot reading. There are sketch artists and body painters, and various burlesque, circus and cabaret performers.
Each performance has a specific theme and performances take place every 3-4 months.
I organise and produce each event, in collaboration with Meg Matich and Jessica LoMonaco. My role is mainly to take care of marketing, book the entertainment (burlesque, circus, music) and plan the running order of each event, and together with Jessica we collaborate on the set design. I also perform as the host, Madame Karítas, at each event.
Madame of Entertainment (Madame Karítas): Nanna Gunnars
Madame of Poetry (Nastasia Filipovna): Meg Matich
Madame of Beauty (Paige Truesong): Jessica LoMonaco
Rotating cast of 20-30 performers
18 May 2017
– featuring Kristín Ómarsdóttir
29 July 2017 (Wild Nights!)
– featuring Kristín Eiríksdóttir
10 November 2017 (Masquerade)
– featuring Kött Grá Pjé
29 March 2018 (Seven Deadly Sins)
– featuring Sjón
21 June 2018 (A Midsummer’s Night Dream)
– featuring Hallgrímur Helgason & Cornelia Travnicek
8 July 2018 (The Golden Age): The Café Review Book Launch
– featuring Einar Már Guðmundsson, Gerður Kristný, Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson and Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir
22 November 2018 (Masquerade)
– featuring Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir
8 March 2019 (The Witching Hour)
– featuring Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir & translator Max Savage
25 April 2019 (Salon)
– Pop-up event in Gröndalshús in collaboration with Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
4 July 2019 (Inferno)
– featuring Francesca Cricelli