MARIA BJØRNSON

SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER  (16 February 1949 – 13 December 2002)

Where does it start? What makes a great designer? How much is it to do with genes and how much to do with upbringing? How much is it to do with luck, meeting the right person at the right time?  What makes a great designer? In Maria Bjørnson’s case it is hard not to think that the blood of her forebears and one particular relationship loaded the dice to fall the way they did. This brave and fascinating woman was born mildly epileptic with a cleft palate, and a stammer. Worse, she was illegitimate (a cruel social stigma in 1949), the child of a brief union between a rich Norwegian, Bjorn Bjørnson, and a young Romanian, Mia Prodan. Bjørnson was the grandson of the Nobel laureate, the dramatist Bjornstjerne Bjørnson, a friend of Ibsen, and founder of the National Theatre of Norway. Prodan came from a family of Bucharest intellectuals, her uncle being the director of the Romanian National Theatre. Her life was riven by the war and its aftermath. Forced to work as a translator when her country was under Nazi occupation, she was posted to Denmark. From there she fled to Sweden, suspected of anti-Nazi sympathies. Thence she tramped through the snow to Norway, listed as ‘counterrevolutionary’ by now Communist Romania. (Adam Pollock da “The Life Of An Artisit” The Scenographer August 2016.)

 

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