Kristina court case – blow by blow

According to the pair, a new script was written by Director Lars Rudolfsson and Dramatist Jan Mark before the premiere in Malmö and in under a year from being asked to.

Ulvaeus and Andersson signed a contract with Carl-Johan Seth a week before the premiere stating that it was he who had written the script for Kristina från Duvemåla – this was done so as not to risk a media scandal and to avoid negative publicity that would state that Andersson and Ulvaeus had split from or ripped off their script writer.

Benny said that he would rather have a person paid for something he had not done that have the media state that we have cheated a guy.

Seth confessed that it isn’t out of the ordinary that a Director chooses not to work with the script-writer after a script has been delivered.

After reading Seth’s script, Björn and Benny said they wondered if Seth was actually capable of writing the script. Seth countered by stating that there was no-one finer in Sweden than him.

Seth claimed that Lars Rudolfsson wanted nothing to do with him and that it was one of the reasons he left the production’s creative team.

Björn and Benny were quick to clarify that their coming to court was not because they want more money but because it was vital that Lars Rudolfsson and Jan Mark get full and fair credit and acknowledgement for their script.

Seth’s script came in for sharp criticism from Ulla Åberg, Head of the Royal Dramatic Theatre’s Drama department, who was called in as an expert witness by Benny and Björn. She said that she had studied the two scripts that were the subject of the trial, Seth’s and Rudolfsson’s. She said that they were entirely different. The story-telling and the roles within those scripts differed remarkably.

Carl-Johan Seth wanted Karl Oskar to be the main character in the musical as he deemed Kristina too boring – just being sick and having babies all the time.

Former Head of the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Ingrid Dahlberg, who between 1992 and 1993 was called in as an advisor when the musical project was in danger of collapsing, said that she spent a week with Seth in Paris in 1993 trying to persuade him to change and cut the script he had written. Eventually, she advised Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus to end the collboration. "My recommendation was that they should change the script writer and start again from the beginning."

Björn and Benny stated that the musical would never be staged again if they lose the case. Benny added that they would immediately appeal if the judgement was not in their favour.

It seemed that the warring trio agreed on only one thing during the trial, that it was Carl-Johan Seth that came up with the title Kristina från Duvemåla.

According to the original contract, author royalties are divided three ways, Benny Andersson 1/3, Björn Ulvaeus 1/3 and Carl-Johan Seth 1/3. Seth’s amount was to be further split with him receiving 70% and Moberg’s family 30%. Andersson and Ulvaeus were suing Seth to have him removed from the contract.

Carl-Johan Seth’s involvement came at the suggestion of Wilhelm Moberg’s daughter Eva.

Sources: United Press International, The Local, Dagens Nyheter, TT Spektra, Aftonbladet and Jimmy for the original translations.

Trial verdict to be announced on 23rd March

Björn and Benny have stated that if they lose the case (heard from the 6th to 8th February, 2007) that they will immediately appeal and that if they lose any subsequent appeal that they will never stage Kristina again. Instead, it may be performed in concert version only.

The court’s verdict will be announced on the 23rd March, 2007.

A summary of important points and ‘who said what’ at the trial (sourced from the Swedish press) will appear on icethesite in the next few days.

The reports on the Kristina Trial

Swedish dramatist Carl-Johan Seth claims that he wrote a script that forms the basis of the play, which is known in English simply as Kristina. Andersson and Ulvaeus claim that Seth’s original script was so bad that they called in other writers to start again from scratch.

Seth was named as scriptwriter in the programme for the world premiere in Malmö in 1995, but has since then not been acknowledged in any publicity for the musical. The Abba stars’ case may be hampered by the fact that they signed an agreement with Seth, confirming that he was the author, one month before the premiere .

It was also revealed in court documents that Seth received a payment of 5 million kronor, which Andersson and Ulvaeus say they paid simply to guarantee peace and quiet.

The case has come to a head as the Abba pair develop plans to launch a Broadway version of the musical. Earnings from a US version could be affected by the outcome of the current case.

" Nothing is decided yet, but it would be nice to have all the paperwork in order before we start talking with other parties," said Andersson.

The case continues at Stockholm District Court on Wednesday.

Kristina tells the story of a poverty-stricken Swedish family and their migration to American in the nineteenth century. The musical received a rapturous reception in Sweden, and was seen by over a million people, compared with 847,000 who saw the the Swedish version of the Abba stars’ international success Mamma Mia.

The Local