Moomins at the theatre: Swedish Theatre 1949 – Mumintrollet och kometen

In early June, an exhibition Moomins at the theatre opened at the Theatre Museum in Helsinki presenting the first theatre versions of the Moomins. The exhibition is open until the summer 2017 but if you still are not able to visit the museum, don’t worry! During this summer we will be presenting some of Tove Jansson’s theatre works on our blog as well!

Tofslan_och_Vifslan_Tove Janssonin luonnos Tofslanin ja Vifslanin (Tiuhti ja Viuhti) pukuihin Svenska Teaternin esitykseen Momintrollet och kometen, 1949. Tove Janssonin arkisto, ©Moomin Characters™
Thingumy and Bob costume draft by Tove Jansson
Photo: Tove Jansson’s archive, © Moomin Characters™

Mumintrollet och kometen, 1949

The idea for taking the Moomins into a theatre was originally Tove Jansson’s friend, theatre director Vivica Bandler. Jansson was inspired by the idea and began working on the play based on the first three Moomin books published so far.

In autumn 1948, Jansson offered the play for the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki but the board of the theatre experienced Tove Jansson’s text inappropriate for children’s play. The play was considered too difficult and strange – just like the Moomin books Tove had written. It was thought that a good children’s book should be written just for kids, and it was impossible to think that a book could be suitable for adults at the same time. The same reason slowed down the play’s access to the theatre scene.

In autumn 1949, the theatre’s board of directors decided to give Jansson’s play a chance. The play needed a sufficiently imaginative director, and the one was Tove’s friend Vivica Bandler. Tove Jansson herself designed the costumes and sets in addition to the manuscript she had written. Actors were the theatre school students and the youngest actors theatre had at that time.

Mumintrollet och kometen - kuva Rembrandt_SLS arkiv_SLSA 1270
Actors: Birgit Strandberg (Moominmamma), Sigvald Bäsk (Moominpappa),
Olof Hollsten (Snufkin), Måns Fors (Moomintroll), Paul Budsko (Muddler),
Birgitta Ulfsson (Hemulen’s mother)
Photo: Rembrandt, SLS arkiv, SLSA 1270

Mumintrollet och kometen käsiohjelma_Teatterimuseon arkisto
Booklet Tove Jansson drew for the play Mumintrollet och kometen
Photo: Theatre Museum’s archive

Mumintrollet och kometen premiered on the Holy Innocents’ Day December 29th 1949. Both the audience and the critics liked the play and it was presented 19 times. However, part of the audience experienced the content and language of the play inappropriate for young children.

Nevertheless Mumintrollet och kometen marked a new, interesting and fascinating era for Tove Jansson with all the numerous theatre works.

Text: Theatre Museum

Find out more about the play Mumintrollet och kometen and other theatre works by Tove Jansson at the exhibition Moomins at the theatre.


Theatre Museum
Cable Factory,
Tallberginkatu 1 G, Helsinki

Tue, Thu−Sun 11 am − 6 pm
Wed 11 am − 8 pm
Exceptions to the opening hours

Tickets: 6/8 €

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