Summer Vacation – Karius og Baktus Children’s Theater

Staying in Oslo all summer meant that we would be able to see some special events we have missed out on in past years because our timing just wasn’t right. A few years ago, a company of actors started acting out well-known children’s stories in one of my all-time favorite parks – Vigeland’s Park (aka Frogner Park). Our girls are well-versed in popular Norwegian children’s tales, songs and folklore. Karius and Baktus is a favorite book, written and illustrated by Thorbjørn Egner, especially among parents, because it encourages children to brush their teeth and keep them clean. Karius and Baktus (a play on the words, caries and bacteria) are two brothers who live in a little boy’s mouth who cause all sorts of trouble. They absolutely love it when the little boy eats loff (white bread) and syrup, without taking care of his teeth properly afterward. However, one day, the little boy sees a dentist who instructs the little boy to brush his teeth – not a good thing for poor Karius and Baktus who have worked hard to hammer out holes in the boy’s teeth and make themselves a nice, cozy home. During a subsequent dental appointment to fix the cavities wrought by Karius and Baktus, the brothers face the end of their stay as a drill ruins all their work and washes away the home they had so happily built. It’s an amusing story that stays with children for years. Our girls have often asked about Karius and Baktus during their nightly routine, wondering if they are in their mouths. We, of course, encourage them to brush, rinse and floss to make sure Karius and Baktus don’t hang around.

I was happy that the theater did not mind if anyone took pictures during the show – as long as no flash was used and no video (of course). It was time to push my Canon 5DMkII for this low-lit scene. The only light source was the theater lights strung above, hanging from the top of the big tent. I alternately shot these images at ISO 1600 – ISO 2000 with a 24-70mm zoom lens (fully zoomed in at 70mm) at f/2.8 to f/3.2 and shutter speed set from 1/60 to 1/80 seconds. I was pretty high up in the stands, so I knew I’d be cropping these photos in much tighter later. Though I worried about the amount of noise I might get from such a high ISO, I was rather happy with the results.

The children’s theater in Vigeland’s Park takes place under a big tent – and a good thing because you just never know when it will rain. All the kids were invited to sit on the ground right next to the stage, like my daughter, Storyteller (here), and the cousins.As in the DVD we have at home, there is a narrator that tells the story from scene to scene. Here, Karius (dark hair) and Bactus (red hair) check out their new space and immediately start planning and building a new home in the little boy’s teeth.Karius and Bactus are ecstatic with their new home. They sing, laugh and dance and encourage the little boy to eat more bread and syrup!Unfortunately, just when Karius and Baktus start decorating their new home, the little boy feels the pain. A trip to the dentist reveals that the little boy has not been brushing his teeth regularly. So a thorough cleaning is in order and Karius and Baktus meet the Teeth Cleaner. A fight ensues but in the end, Karius and Baktus are forced to run and hide.When they come out of hiding, they find that all their work has been washed away. The narrator tells the audience how the little boy has received strict instructions on keeping his teeth clean. Another trip to the dentist will rid the little boy of Karius and Baktus completely. But Karius and Baktus give it one more try – and scream for loff and syrup, hoping the little boy hears them.

But their optimism turns to despair and finally, to fear as they hear a rather loud roar – a drill! As they try to evade the drill, the Teeth Cleaner suddenly appears again and washes them away, out of the little boy’s mouth.

And the actors take a bow. What a treat to see this play. Certainly a highlight in our summer abroad in Norway.

Cross-post to It’s Never Easy, But It’s Always Fun blog from Life As We See It, the official blog of Solheim Photography.


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