Jakob Weis – Helmer Hardcore

Jakob Weis recently flew in to London to take part in [Foreign Affairs] international festival of theatre. The final segment of ‘5 Days of [Foreign Affairs]‘ was devoted to the author’s brilliant and thought-provoking play, Helmer Hardcore.

For two nights only, [Foreign Affairs] performed the final scene of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and the opening scene of Jakob Weis Helmer Hardcore, before easing their way into a rehearsed reading of the full play. Following the reading, the author and I faced questions from a panel of experts and an inquisitive audience. Thought the full title of the play is Helmer Hardcore, A Doll’s House 2, during the ensuing discussion, it became clear that Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was less inspiration and more utilisation for Weis, as the author chose Ibsen’s world-famous play as a means of engaging with a topic that was close to his heart. More details on this and the upcoming production to follow!

A huge thank you to Jakob Weis, the panelists, the Danish Arts Council for supporting Jakob’s trip to London, and of course [Foreign Affairs] and the wonderful actors who brought this play to life, for giving a glimpse of what’s to come in their upcoming production, The Helmer Project.

21. November 2014 by Paul
Categories: Danish, Drama, Translation | Comments Off on Jakob Weis – Helmer Hardcore

Marx and Coca Cola – a play by Nils Schou


A nineteenth century patent medicine originally containing both cocaine and caffeine as stimulants. An estimated 1.8 billion servings of the carbonated soft drink are consumed around the world each day, making Coca-Cola one of the world’s most valuable brands.

Original recipe for Coca-Cola:
· 1 oz caffeine citrate
· 3 oz citric acid
· 1 US fl oz vanilla extract
· 1 US qt lime juice
· 2.5 oz “flavoring,” i.e., “Merchandise 7X”
· 30 lb sugar
· 4 US fl oz fluid extract of coca leaves (flavor essence of the coca leaf).
· 2.5 US gal water
· caramel sufficient to give color

Mix caffeine acid and lime juice in 1 quart boiling water add vanilla and flavoring when cool.


A nineteenth century German economist, historian, philosopher and revolutionary socialist. Important works: Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. One of the most influential figures in human history.

Defining effects of capitalism on the working class:
· 1 part alienation
· 1 part exploitation
· 1 part dehuminisation

Combine to unite the proletariat in a mass movement until revolution is observed. Allow to rest for fifty years in a cool location.

Marx and Coca Cola: 

A twentieth century Danish play by Nils Schou.
· 2 actors: 1 male – Morten, 1 female – Ida
· 6 scenes with two-year intervals between them

Observe the two characters as they meet during the student protests of ’68; laugh and cry with them over these six scenes until you come to love them. Allow to cool.

One scene from Marx and Coca Cola will feature in [Foreign Affairs]‘ production at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club this Saturday, 23 August. Get your tickets here!

21. August 2014 by Paul
Categories: Danish, Drama, Translation | Leave a comment

The House That Jack Built by Jakob Melander

The House That Jack Built
by Jakob Melander

The first book in the crime series featuring Lars Winkler: loner, dad, former squatter, and drug addict — and the most dedicated detective in Copenhagen.

A young prostitute is found murdered at the common in Copenhagen. The woman’s body has been preserved and her eyes removed with surgical precision. Not long after, another body is discovered treated in the exact same manner. The press quickly names the spectacular case the Sandman Killings.

Detective Inspector Lars Winkler is put on the case. With an addiction to classical rock music and the odd line of speed, Lars is struggling to get his life back together, mostly with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Maria, who lives with him in his rundown apartment. His wife has left him for his old friend and former boss. Meanwhile, the atmosphere in the Homicide and Serious Crime Department is tense. Despite support from his new young partner, Sanne Bissen, Lars feels edged out. While tracking Copenhagen’s most sadistic serial killer to date, his past — which has long been kept secret — is slowly catching up to him.

Check out Jakob Melander’s website to see what’s next for his troubled detective.

10. July 2014 by Paul
Categories: Crime, Danish, Translation | Comments Off on The House That Jack Built by Jakob Melander

Review of Benny Andersen’s The Contract Killer

After meeting some of my favourite Danish authors at the 2013 Copenhagen Book Fair on the weekend, I’ve been reminded today of where it all started. My first ever translation, Benny Andersen’s The Contract Killer, has been reviewed in the October edition of World Literature Today!

The prolific Benny Andersen turns a failed private investigator into a bumbling hired gun in this short comic play. Andersen presents absurdist approaches to questions of life and death, never losing his sense of humor or his lighthearted turn of phrase. The shy and ineffectual protagonist — a hallmark of Andersen’s — is as relatable in English as in Danish.

The play is available for purchase at The Book Depository. For details on performing The Contract Killer, please send your details via the contact page.

12. November 2013 by Paul
Categories: Danish, Drama, Translation | Comments Off on Review of Benny Andersen’s The Contract Killer

Kristian Bang Foss – European Union Prize for Literature

Next month, Kristian Bang Foss will receive his EUPL for Death Drives an Audi, one of the first sample translations I wrote. I’m very excited for Kristian and hope there’s an English publisher out there thinking of taking on this wonderful book!
Here’s a short extract of the English sample as well as a link to the EUPL site with a little information on the author.

From Death Drives an Audi by Kristian Bang Foss
Translated by Paul Russell Garrett

Another expression we were fond of was “plump pillows for side sleepers”. We picked it up in Ikea, on a trip to get Waldemar a new lamp. We discovered it on a completely geniotic diagram in the bedroom department, where, depending on your sleeping position – on your back, stomach, side, etc. – you could find out which size pillow you should be using. We repeated it constantly; it even ousted dreamsweets for a time. When we got tired of just saying, ‘plump pillows for side sleepers,’ and of asking in shops if they had plump pillows for side sleepers, we began to make small variations on the theme, and the conversation would go something like this:
‘Are you going to buy a new pillow soon, Waldemar?’
‘How plump is the pillow going to be?’
‘It’s going to be disgustingly plump.’
‘Because I’m a side sleeper.’

One day, it went so far that we actually petitioned the council to get Waldemar a plumper pillow. Our reasoning was that he had just discovered he was a side sleeper. The case handler wanted to see documentation, so we had Waldemar’s doctor write a declaration that he needed a plump pillow on health grounds. And when the council gave us carte blanche for pillow-buying, we took a trip to Ikea. We agreed that Waldemar should say, ‘My name is Waldemar, I’m a side sleeper and I would like the plumpest pillow you’ve got.’

In front of Ikea, we smoked a joint. Waldemar rolled his wheelchair towards the automatic doors; the glass slid away with a whistle and I stood by his side saying, ‘Do you hear that Waldemar? That’s the door to pillow heaven opening wide.’

On our way to the department with pillows and duvets and all that, we passed through the furniture showroom, where one chair in particular caught our attention. It was called the Jerker and I shouted, ‘Look, they’ve got a chair called the Jerker!’ We both cried with laughter and I had to sit in the chair for a minute to recover. A couple in their late thirties came by; they looked unspeakably self-important and were clearly considering buying a Jerker, so I got up to let them study it in peace.

14. October 2013 by Paul
Categories: Children | Comments Off on Kristian Bang Foss – European Union Prize for Literature

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