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Night Lives

Darkness and night are almost extinct by human illumination, and our illuminated cities make life difficult for those who cherish the dark. When the sun goes down, a whole new world comes to life that most of us know very little about.


In order to investigate the beings and nature of the dark, composer Kristine Tjøgersen, biologist and writer Hanna Bjørgaas, lighting designer Evelina Dembacke, and artist Ellen Jerstad have created a scenic and musical work which conveys and recreates the fascinating and unknown life of the darkness.


“Night Lives” is specially created for Cikada.

“Night Lives” uncovers and investigates several phenomena of darkness; The fascinating organisms that live in the darkness beneath our feet, and the communication and life of bats, night-flying moths, hawkmoths, and eggars. The performance aims to uncover and present those things we don't usually see and hear in our city. Observations and other biological data are transformed into sound composition, video, installations, and light. Through that “Night Lives” creates a poetic, philosophical and surprising stage performance. 


“Night Lives” gives the audience a unique way of uncovering parts of our world that few people get to take part in. The performance shows the wholeness – the symbiosis – that these various elements make up. It explores interaction between living and artificial materials, changing proportions, making the invisible visible, light and darkness, shadows, senses, movements, communication, and mystery. Such a close collaboration between composer, lighting artist, visual artist, and biologist leads to an interdisciplinary work that gives a holistic experience.


Nocturnal animals have evolved to live in the dark, and evolution has given them senses that humans do not possess. In “Night Lives” the bat's echolocation is recreated by using spatialized sound and light. The performance also takes the audience under the ground, to an underworld where darkness reigns. 

Life underground is unexplored territory. The earthworm is the visible, charismatic giant of the underground scene. Who are the other tens of thousands of little bugs in the soil? Ciliates, rotifers, amoebae, and other small protozoa are only around two micrometres long, i.e., a thousandth of a millimetre. Most of them look like they come from a completely different galaxy.


There are more microbes in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are people on the planet. Only between one and ten percent of the living things likely to exist on Earth have been identified. The protozoa that create a healthy soil is disappearing, and with “Nightlife” we want to give the public an opportunity to look into a dark, sensitive world and let them get to know these creatures whose living conditions keep getting worse due to human light pollution and noise.



“Night Lives” gives a unique insight into this secret and endangered part of life that surrounds us.



The work can be experienced by both children and adults.

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Kristine Tjøgersen

Kristine Tjøgersen (*1982 in Oslo, Norway) studied composition with prof. Carola Bauckholt at the Anton Bruckner Universität in Linz, Austria, and clarinet with prof. Hans Christian Bræin at the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo. 


Tjøgersen has a special interest for music that combines sound and visuals and investigates and explores how they interact with each other. 

Her works have been performed by a.o. Arditti Quartet (UK), SWR Symphonieorchester (DE), WDR Symphonieorchester, Ensemble Recherche (DE), Plus-Minus Ensemble (UK), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (UK), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK),  asamisimasa, Ensemble neoN, BIT-20 Ensemble, Tøyen Fil og Klafferi, Oslo Sinfonietta, Cikada Ensemble, Pinquins, Bruckner Orchester Linz (AT) at festivals like Wien Modern (AT), ECLAT (DE), Musik21 (DE), Tectonics (UK), Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik (DE), KLANG (DK), Borealis (NO) and Ultima festival (NO)  


She was representing Norway at Rostrum for composers in Hungary in 2018, and at the World Music Days i Tallinn i 2019. In 2019/2020 she was a fellow at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and in 2020 she won the Arne Nordheim composer price. In 2020 she won the Pauline Hall prize for her orchestra piece Bioluminescence, and in 2021 she was awarded with “work of the year” from the Norwegian Society of Composers for her Piano Concerto. In 2022 she won the International Rostrum of Composers in Palermo with her orchestra piece Between Trees.

As clarinetist she has performed at many of the major European new music festivals with the award-winning ensembles Ensemble neoN, Tøyen Fil og Klafferi and asamisimasa.

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Evelina Dembacke's lighting design is poetic and musical. As she works with both video and installations, her work moves in the borderland between light and photography.

Evelina is working crossdisciplinary mainly together with artists in the field of dance, visual arts, design and music.

Evelina is educated in production management. She is producing performances and installations in collaboration with other artists.

Evelina Dembacke

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Ellen Jerstad (*1989, Oslo) studied scenografy and stage directing at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, as well as puppet theatre from Academy of Performing Arts Prague, directing from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and dance/choreografy at University College of Dance Art. 


Jerstads work is inspired by biology, ecology and mythology and often explores visions of the future through surrounding scenic universes. She works spatially, with the audiovisual and sensoric as primary element, in close collaboration with composers. The audience is often central to the work, as Jerstad explores ways to melt the boundaries between stage and audience. 


Jerstad has lead the compony Øy since 2014, and her works have been shown at Dansens Hus, Festspillene i Nord-Norge, DansIt, Rikscena, Rosendal Teater, Teater Innlandet, Unge Viken and Vega Teater among others. In 2022, her work, kinShips, was nominated for the Hedda prize in two categories. 

Ellen Jerstad

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Biologist and author Bjørgaas is an expert on the wild nature that lives by our side in the city. In 2021, she published the critically acclaimed book "Byens hemmelige liv" at Cappelen Damm, and the book has now been sold to Germany and Canada. Tjøgersen has had Bjørgaas as an important sparring partner on several of his works (the orchestral piece Between Trees, the work Habitat and the Piano Concerto).

Hanna Bjørgaas

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