Árni Ibsen was born in Stykkishólmur, Iceland, on the 17th of May, 1948, but at four years of age moved permanently, with his mother and two sisters, to the town of Akranes. He received his teaching diploma from the University College of Education in 1970, and in 1975 received a B.A. in Drama and English Literature from Exeter University, England. From 1970-1979, Árni taught English, drama, and art history at two colleges in Reykjavík and for many years afterward served as a director, translator, and dramaturg at the National Theatre of Iceland. He served on the board of the Playwrights Union from 1989, serving as its chairman from 1998 - 2004.
Árni wrote several collections of poetry, among them Vort skarða líf (The Scarred Life), Úr hnefa (A Tight Fist), and A Different Silence, which was published bilingually in print and on CD in the USA and England in 2000. His last work of literature was the poetry book Á stöku stað með einnota myndavél, published by Bjartur in the summer of 2007. In addition, Árni wrote dramatic scripts for film, television, radio, and the stage, including his television play Það kemur í ljós (You'll See), and the radio play Snóker (Snooker) both broadcast in 2001. His nine stage plays, among them Skjaldbakan kemst þangað líka (The Turtle Gets There Too), Fiskar á þurru landi (Fish Out of Water), Elín Helena, Ef væri ég gullfiskur! (If I Were a Goldfish!) and Að eilífu (For Ever), have been translated into numerous languages and produced in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Germany, Hungary, Estonia, Ireland, England, and the USA, as well as in Iceland. In December of 2000 his short play, O, Meg! My Life Is was staged by New York's The Luminous Group. In 1996 Árni was nominated for a prestigious Nordic Playwrights Award for his play Himnaríki - geðklofinn gamanleikur (Heaven - a schizophrenic comedy) subsequently staged in eight countries throughout Europe. As a translator, Árni Ibsen brought over thirty plays to the Icelandic stage, including works by Alan Ayckbourn, Samuel Beckett, Jim Cartwright, Elizebeth Egloff, Michael Frayn, Athol Fugard, David Hare, David Mamet, and Arthur Miller. His translations of literature and poetry include the collection Rauðar hjólbörur (The Red Wheelbarrow), by William Carlos Williams.
For over 15 years Árni presided as editor of the National Theatre´s programs and Theatre in Iceland. Additionally, he wrote extensively about Icelandic theatre for The Cambridge Guide To Theatre, The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, and Theatre Companies Of The World. He contributed to The Icelandic Encyclopedia and The History of Icelandic Literature, and lectured on writing for the theatre throughout Iceland, Scandinavia and England, most notably at the University De Montford in Leicester and the University of Loughborough, where he was writer-in-residence.
Árni Ibsen passed away on August 21st 2007. He was married to Hildur Kristjánsdóttir and they have three sons.Back