Skip to main content

You are here

  • Jul 11, 2016

Cow Calls in Dalarna

Cow Calls in Dalarna, Minneapolis Premiere, at the American Swedish Institute, July 22-23

A delightful variety of moods and voices…”—Reader Weekly

A cow call sounds like a she-wolf's howl, a bellowed moo, some whip-poor-will or a sob.

It rises, it descends, it unfurls…”—Duluth News Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS, MNCow Calls in Dalarna, a theater work by award-winning writer Bart Sutter, evokes the lost world of Sweden’s summer pasture camps with cow calls, cow horn, cow bells, poetry, fiddle music, hymns and folk songs.  Following a recent sold-out Duluth debut, Cow Calls migrates south for its Minneapolis premiere at the American Swedish Institute (ASI), for two performances only on Friday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday, July 23, at 2:30 p.m. The ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Tickets are on sale now:$15 for ASI members, $20 for non-members, $5 for ages 6–18.  To purchase tickets and for more information, call 612-871-4907 or visit

Cow Calls in Dalarna, directed by Sheryl Jensen, conjures the earthy, musical women who, for centuries, herded their cows in the forested hills above Lake Siljan in Sweden’s Dalarna region.  The women produced cheese and whey butter to sustain their communities through winter. Their distinctive calls were developed to summon cows or send signals and warnings to other women in the pastures.

The stories garnered encompass their peculiar customs and work habits, folk wisdom, an odd mix of superstition and religion, and—above all, their musicality.  The four independent women, each with a unique cow call, are portrayed by actors Mary Jo Uhlenkott, Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux, Heidi Lyle and Patricia Dorn with musical support from fiddler Frances Olson.  Bart Sutter, the playwright, plays the one male role.

Bart Sutter is a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award and has had three previous verse plays produced. Sutter’s research on the summer pasture camps earned the support of a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant and he has returned three times to the Dalarna village near Lake Siljan, where his grandfather was raised.

"It seemed to me,” Sutter said, “that the summer pasture camps were the heart of the heart of the folk district. The ghosts of these women who used to spend their summers up there started to speak to me."

The 50-minute reader’s theatre play is based on Sutter’s Cow Calls in Dalarna cycle of poems. The playwas first performed at the Midsommer celebration sponsored by the Swedish Cultural Society of Duluth on June 17, 2016, and played to a full house. The ASI performances coincide with Red Dragonfly Press’ publication of Sutter’s poems.

The ASI performances of Cow Calls in Dalarna will be preceded by a program of complementary music played by Vikarbyns Lilla Spelmanslag, a young adult fiddle group from the Lake Siljan area of Sweden. The group performs in folk dress, under the guidance of their teacher, Margaretha Mattson.


Tickets are $15 for ASI members, $20 for non-members, $5 for ages 6 – 18. For more information, call 612-871-4907 or visit Cow Calls in Dalarna will run at the American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, on Friday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, July 23, at 2:30 p.m.

THE AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE is a vibrant arts and cultural organization, museum and historic home located at 2600 Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis.  ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden.  In 2013, the Wall Street Journal called ASI “[a] model of how a small institution can draw visitors through exciting programming.” For more information, visit or call 612-871-4907.

ASI Museum Hours

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday, Noon-8 p.m.; Saturday. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday. Noon-5 p.m., closed Monday. Museum Admission: $10 adults, $7 ages 62 +, $5  ages 6-18 and full-time students with ID. Free for ASI members and kids ages 5 and under.  

FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, is open until 5 p.m.  The ASI Museum Store is open until 5 p.m., except for Wednesday when both remain open until 8 p.m.

SUPPORTERS  The  American Swedish Institute thanks the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Karin L. Larson, and ASI contributing members and donors. This activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, Minnesota.

share this