Merlins Rest Pub plays host TONIGHT to a showing of the first episode of Alt for Norge, a Norwegian reality show that took ten Americans with Norwegian ancestry and had them compete for a prize of $50,000 and a chance to meet their Norwegian relatives. Kari will give a brief introduction at 5:30 and start the episode at 6. Each episode is mostly in English as the contestants do not speak Norwegian.
While the participants came from all over the United States, four of the ten were from Minnesota, including our own Kari Tauring. Kari Tauring is best known throughout the Pagan community as a Staving musician, rune reader, and Völva, which is a type of Nordic Shaman.
The first episode started at Prekestolen where they were challenged to hike down to Prekestolshytta. Other challenges were preparing something called a matpakke and figuring out what to buy for dinner by translating from a list. The clip below is from the first episode of the which will be shown in its entirety tonight.
PNC Minnesota caught up to the very busy Kari and asked her how she ended up on a Norwegian reality show. (Interview behind the cut)
Kari: “In 2008 my sister came to a Christmas gathering with an ad from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that read “Norwegian Reality Show seeks Americans with Norwegian roots who are interested in their ancestry and have never been to Norway,” Kari recalls. ” She first gave it to my younger sister who said she had met her friend in Oslo so she wouldn’t qualify but said “Kari’s never been.” Because I have been a Nordic Roots author and performance artist all these years even my own family assumes I had been there. But it’s funny, every time I wrote a grant or applied for a program, something fell through. I guess my ancestors were saving me for this opportunity!”
Question: That had to be an amazing experience. Without giving anything away – what was the most surprising thing to happen to you on this show?
Kari: “I loved hearing the Norwegians say my name. Kari is a typical Norwegian name but it sounds flat and long in the Midwest. In Norway it is quick and they roll the r just slightly. It was lovely.
I was surprised that most of the other contestants knew nothing about Norway, some had never even had lefse. I knew there would not be many with my extensive scholarship and spiritual connection (most people like me have already been!) but I thought the others would have at least some context for what they were experiencing. It was actually very isolating to be experiencing things so deeply and intensely and have no outlet to share or express what I was going through.
The first competition was a bit shocking. Russefaring was not a tradition that my immigrant ancestors brought with them. In Norway they load all the High School graduating class onto party buses with a list of drunken debauchery on their uniform pant legs and they go about the countryside for two weeks doing dangerous amounts of drinking and having sexual exploits. Our challenge was to be a russ for the day. It was a little sad to see how commericalized this rite of passage was. MacDonald’s shows up on the to-do list twice.”
Question: What did you learn about yourself that you didn’t know before you went on this show?
Kari: “Being in the entertainment industry, I have worked with cameras before. But I was really starkly reminded of why many years ago I vowed not to do other peoples scripts. Reality TV is not all that real, you know. So it was work to say what they wanted me to say while maintaining the integrity of my true experience.
I became aware of how noisy, loud, talkative and animated we Americans were compared to the Norwegians who are quieter and physically calmer. As a game/challenge to myself, I consciously tried to match my energy level to blend in with the Norwegians, maintain a calmer, quieter demeanor. It was pretty hard!
I also took a personal challenge to not “show off” during the filming. This is much easier now that I am in my 40s but the hardest time was at Preikestolen. We were dropped off in a Helicopter (which I would never do on my own, I find them loud and disruptive). Then we had to pack out of suitcases into back packs and hike down.
Now I love to hike and am very fit. Part of me just wanted to run down the mountain and leap and hop. But a tinge of that was being in a group of 20-somethings. I didn’t want them to think I was an old lady. But I know that when I show off is when I hurt myself and I was determined to be calm and careful. It was a beautiful hike.
The day before this shoot I had been carving a walking stick during some down time. One contestant, Debra Breburg from Dawson, Minnesota had been talking about her recent knee surgery and how rocky the terrain was. I gave her the walking stick and we had a lot of fun staving before dinner.
As we were climbing down Preikestolen I knew she might need some assistance and I didn’t mind going slower than the rest. It gave me time to look at the view and sing a little. Clinton Admire (contestant from Texas) also kept pace with us. He was a most delightful hiking companion, a nature lover. He mentioned that hiking with me was like hiking with PBS running. A little reminder that I was being a little less Norwegian and a little more American…
Anyhow, because of this, I was awarded the shows first Norwegian Spirit Award. I cried when they honored me so.”
If you missed seeing episode 1, it will air again at Merlins Rest Pub on December 28th.
Editor’s note: If you haven’t tried the Guinness stew at Merlins Rest, you are missing out.