The musical, which debuts on Wednesday at the Minetta Lane
Theater in New York, is about the consequences of the global
financial crisis of 2008, which triggered the collapse of
Iceland's banking system and resulted in the criminal
convictions of some of its leaders.
"Despite the serious nature of the subject, the piece is meant
to entertain - first and foremost," said Jonsson, a former
journalist from Reykjavik.
He put the cautionary tale in a surreal setting because he said
it allowed him to simplify and focus on the heart of the story.
Jonsson spoke to Reuters about where the idea for the musical
about love and deception in Elbowville originated, and why he
set the musical in an elbow.
Q: Why did you write "Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar
Agnarsson Furniture Painter"?
A: Writing music is a necessity for me, and I get really
restless if I donít have my guitar around. This restlessness of
the mind also means I have a constant flow of ideas in my head,
and I am particularly fascinated by people, in their never
I love the idea of a person, whom many would probably find
rather unattractive, a furniture painter couch potato, and the
thought of a society of tiny people living inside him ...
And I had a story to tell. It is a story that is highly relevant
to everyone in the world today. I donít think I should say more
right now. Letís just say that this story collides the things
that matter in life; family, love and humanity, with false
prosperity. Itís certainly a critique of the financial system of
the world, but perhaps not exactly in the way you might think. I
think the greatest evil is in the system Ė not the people. Most
people want to do good.
Q: Where did the idea for setting this in an elbow come
A: I find it fascinating to imagine an entire world
inside a person, and I think itís fun. I also wanted to tell the
story in an abstract way. I wanted to convey the heart of it,
without the distraction of certain persons or specific events.
So, I chose this surreal setting. It allows me to simplify and
focus on the heart of the story.
[to top of second column]
Q: Why the elbow and not the knuckle, knee or some other body
A: This boils down to a basic existential question. Are we
really sure weíre not inside someoneís elbow? What is on the other
side of the Big Bang? We donít know why weíre here.
Q: Is there a real town that inspired Elbowville?
A: I experienced the financial bubble and subsequent crash in
Iceland. I suppose Elbowville is inspired by that fact. Itís a
backwater town inside Ragnar Agnarssonís body, where the inhabitants
can travel to foreign countries such as Texass, The Hills of Kidney
Q: Is this a morality play?
A: This is a story of what happens when people lose
themselves in an artificial world, where they are shielded from
reality, until it hits them in the face.
In general, these are good people, who mean well. They convince
themselves that what they do is furthering prosperity, while the
opposite is true. At the end of the day, weíre all in this together.
The answer to financial violence is not more violence. It is love.
It is a personal revolution, where you decide not to enable them and
their system anymore.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with "Revolution in the
Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter"?
A: I hope I will be able to move people and make them think.
My art is about finding the common ground between us all Ė this
shared humanity and empathy. And, itís time to wake up from the
virtual reality and face the world, through a peaceful personal
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.