‘Epiphany’ production heads home to Norway

With the fall of the final curtain, playwright and Citrus College history professor, Bruce Solheim, Ph.D. feels like the family created during “The Epiphany” production is breaking up.

“There’s this great joy that you get from having done a good job but then there is also a sadness you get from having to go your separate ways,” Solheim said.

While the cast and crew prepare for upcoming finals, Solheim plans to take “The Epiphany” home to Norway, his own family’s native country, in the next couple of years.

“The play belongs in Norway,” Solheim said. “I think some healing can come out of it for the Norwegian people.”

Solheim explained how the Norwegians’ grueling decision of choosing between joining the native resistance or surrendering to the Nazis during their occupation of Norway caused pain and suffering for them and others; yet they still do not discuss this traumatic time to this day.

Solheim believes the play will inspire a conversation that will start the healing process.

After presenting “The Epiphany” to an audience who most likely did not know anything about the Norwegian resistance or of the Sami, the indigenous people of northern Norway, Solheim said that it has brought up a sense of understanding among the viewers.

“It makes me feel connected to everybody that we all go through the same human condition and sometimes we forget and just look at our differences rather than that we are very elemental creatures,” Solheim said.

“[The Epiphany] was supposed to have been performed in Norway already, but it got delayed one year,” he said. “The performance at Citrus ended up being the world premiere.”

When Solheim makes it back to his motherland, he wishes to stay in his family’s house, the dwelling depicted in “The Epiphany,” to reflect on and appreciate the return to the beginning of it all.

With the production of “The Epiphany” started at Citrus, Solheim focused on that instead.

“The Epiphany” portrays the Norwegian resistance throughout the Nazi occupation of the country during World War II in 1939, with Solheim’s family history working as the backbone of the story.

“The Epiphany” will be translated into Norwegian, changing its name to “Åpenbaringen.”

The performers of a community theater in Kongsvinger, Norway, where the play will be performed, will be casted for “The Epiphany.”

Åge “Johnny” Nabben Olsen, the narrator of the production performed at Citrus, said he would like to narrate in Norway as well.

But because the play will be performed in Norway, the background information about Norway during World War II and about the Sami, Norwegian natives, he provided by narrating would be unnecessary, Olsen said.

Olsen and Solheim were long distance best friends who met when Solheim was casting Norwegian veterans for a reading of “The Epiphany” in Seattle in January earlier this year.

“We connected well from the very first phone call,” said Olsen. “We call each other ‘brother from another mother.’”

Olsen said the feedback has been nothing but positivity and praise.

“One guy stopped me after a performance and said he had never heard about the Sami but after the show he wants to learn more,” he said.

Olsen said that encounter showed him the impact the play had made.

After meeting filmmaker, Martin Hoegberget, through another play in Norway, Olsen became the focal point of Hoegberget’s documentary, “The Epiphany,” about his trip to Seattle, his military background and his life in general.

Hoegberget, the filmmaker of the documentary, said that he started off with focusing solely on Olsen but decided to include Solheim in the film when they met.

“As I got to know more about Bruce, I realized he also had a very interesting story to tell,” said Hoegberget. “The focus of the film is now about the friendship that formed between [Olsen] and [Solheim].”

Solheim mentioned that another important part of the documentary was when he and Olsen got to talk to his friend, David Wilson, a Vietnam veteran who is dying from a form of blood cancer casued by his contact from Agent Orange, a herbicide mixture used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

Recently, Hoegberget entered the documentary into the “Movies On War” film festival in Hedmark, Norway.

Solheim said that he hopes people take the message of the play and pass it on to their friends and anyone they know.

“Good people have to work together to make good things happen,” Solheim said.