Briefly in English


“Art is always in our midst. It plays a vital role. Art cannot be stored in a closet and taken out to air when it’s convenient.  On the one hand the world engages us and we are inspired to touch it, feel it, understand it.  On the other we become petrified by a sense of insecurity and confusion over our daily existence.  These conflicts and contradictions are all part of life, but I am convinced that the desire to explore life is more powerful than stagnation.  Inspiration is part of being alive.  This is the impulse behind all creativity.”
Mika Myllyaho, Director of the FNT, January 2014


Art and creativity are among the main themes of this spring’s new season.  Many of the new premières examine the nature and importance of art for understanding the world around us and our place within it.  Cave drawings, poetry, folklore, sculpture, even the art of cuisine, all play a role in this season’s shows.

On the Main Stage, the spring season sees the opening of a major new work by one of Finland’s most international playwrights, Laura Ruohonen.  Many of Ruohonen’s plays have been translated and performed abroad, such as Olga, Queen C, and Island.  As an author, Ruohonen has a unique voice which breaks new ground with every new work.  Her latest piece, Caves, which she also directs, is a thoughtful, humorous and disturbingly topical work about our impact on the environment. At a site chosen as the final dumping ground for nuclear waste, an archeological researcher comes to examine the primitive art on the walls of the caves monitored by a lonely security guard.  The play weaves an off-beat love story through this study of the relationship between history and progress, between modern expediency and sustainable humanity.

The Small Stage’s spring première is a new stage adaptation of a novel by one of Britain’s leading contemporary authors, Ian McEwan.  His novel Saturday is a finely wrought, profound assessment of the age we live in.  Set on the 15th February 2003, the day the world said no to the Iraq war in unprecedented protest marches, the novel traces a day in the life of a neurosurgeon. The work is a fascinating comment on the nature of conflict, and examines the role of art and science in the contemporary world. Irene Aho directs Eva Buchwald’s stage adaptation.

The Willensauna Stage will host two new premières this spring. First Europaeus, created and directed by Juha Hurme, is a gently humourous portrait of nineteenth century linguistic scientist and folklorist David Europaeus, who in Hurme’s view, was something of a Finnish Don Quixote.  The play will open in February.  It will be followed in April by German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig’s recent work Golden Dragon. Set in an Asian takeaway, the play is a tragicomic, theatrical fable which reveals the unsavoury side of modern life and global connections.

A collaboration between the Finnish National Theatre, Beaivváš Sámi Našunálateáhter and the Ruska Ensemble has resulted in the new production to be seen in the Omapohja studio this February. Entitled Áillohaš, the play deals with the life of the Sami artist Nils Aslak Valkeapää. It is written by Ari-Pekka Lahti who also directs, in collaboration with Hanna Brotherus. A powerful, beautifully poetic portrait of a self-doubting, soul-searching artist, this production also tells the tale of Sami art and survival.  The play expresses a yearning for beauty and purity in a world blindly propelled towards ecological disaster.  The performance is in Finnish and Sami.  Art is also the theme of another play opening in the Omapohja studio later in the season. A Smeds Ensemble production created in association with the Finnish National Theatre, Sculptors is about the importance of play and playfulness, about the positive power of the imagination.  The show is a cross between theatre and visual art, between professional and amateur skills.  It is also a tribute to originality in form and spirit, and a vital reminder of a hands-on artistic tradition.  The performance has been created and devised by Kristian Smeds in collaboration with two well-established contemporary sculptors, Juha Menna and Tapani Kokko, who are also the performers.  Wood is the artists’ main medium.

Many of last autumn’s productions will also continue in repertoire.  On the Main Stage Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard examines a family on the threshold of a new era, expressing all the hope, excitement and anguish suggested by an uncertain future. Sofi Oksanen’s eagerly awaited dramatization of her best-selling novel When the Doves Disappeared powerfully depicts one of the most painful phases in Estonian history, following the shift from Nazi occupation to Soviet rule. Performances of this play are equipped with Estonian and English surtitles.  On the Small Stage, Seppo Parkkinen’s play Love Stories of the Century is based on the works of one of Finland’s most controversial literary couples of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Märta and Henrik Tikkanen, and focuses on the role of the woman writer. On the Willensauna Stage Mikaela Hasán’s adaptation of the novel Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, also deals with the author’s role and background. The novel is Oz’s highly personal account of his childhood in Jerusalem, weaving together Israeli history and the circumstances of his mother’s death.

French drama is represented in the programme with a new comedy by Sébastien Thiéry and a modern classic by Eugène Ionesco. Thiéry’s Comme s’il en pleuvait, translated and directed by Arto af Hällström, is a ruthlessly comic comment on our relationship towards money. In Ionesco’s Le Roi se meurt, the radiators have stopped working, the sun won’t rise, and a large crack has formed in the palace wall. All the signs are clear, but the King refuses to go without a fight. The play, newly translated by Reita Lounatvuori and directed by Minna Leino, is a timeless portrayal of  life’s final transition.

There are also two shows for children this spring. Yrjö Kokko’s classic children’s work Pessi and Illusia is a new piece of puppet theatre presented in the lobby of the Main Stage. On the Willensauna stage. Muro and Me, adapted and directed by Jukka Rantanen from the award-winning novel by Mari Kujanpää, carries over from the autumn season. This is a heartwarming tale of how a shy, lonely little girl, whose only companion is her teddy bear Muro, gradually comes out of her shell as the result of new-found friendship with a teenage school-girl.

The programme also continues to include many new productions in the Touring Stage’s repertoire, as well as a number of visiting productions.


The Finnish National Theatre, founded in 1872, is the oldest Finnish-language professional theatre in the country. The birth of the Finnish National Theatre was closely linked to the political ideology of the late nineteenth century. Finland was part of the Russian Empire, and the country’s intellectual elite was Swedish speaking. Finnish language and art, including theatre, became the cornerstones of a cultural movement which began in the 1860’s, gradually developed political ambitions by the turn of the century, and eventually led to national independence in 1917.

For the first thirty years of its existence, the theatre functioned primarily as a touring company. The theatre did not acquire a permanent home until 1902, when a purpose-built theatre was erected in the heart of Helsinki, adjacent to the city’s main railway station. The building design was by architect Onni Törnqvist-Tarjanne. This majestic neo-romantic edifice with its façade of Finnish granite and interiors of soapstone, marble and wood, is one of Finland’s most impressive national monuments. The theatre still operates in these premises today, and over the years the building has expanded from its original size to encompass another three permanent stages. In addition to the Main Stage (Suuri näyttämö), the theatre comprises the Small Stage (Pieni näyttämö) built in 1954, the Willensauna Stage built in 1976, and the Omapohja studio built in 1987.

In 2010 the FNT’s governing board appointed the current director Mika Myllyaho, who has expanded the theatre’s activities. He has adopted a policy of associate writers to whom the theatre is committed on a long term basis. Juha Jokela, Heini Junkkaala, Sofi Oksanen, Laura Ruohonen and Paavo Westerberg have all been commissioned to write a series of plays for the Finnish National Theatre.

The theatre also established a new production unit in 2010, which was given the name of Touring Stage. This unit, which has no fixed stage, aims to take small-scale touring performances to locations throughout the country which have little or no access to theatre, such as schools, day care centres, homes for the elderly, hospitals, welfare reception centres, prisons and so on. The Touring Stage’s programme focuses on topical issues which are developed through community research and interaction, reaching out and giving voice to marginalized sectors of society.

Over recent years, the theatre has also expanded its outreach activities in the realm of theatre in education and community work. Theatre curator Pirjo Virtanen has initiated and developed many projects and themed events to engage with different sectors of the FNT’s audience base.  The programme includes discussion groups, drama courses, literary study, backstage tours and more. The latest work-in-progress is a series of art, music, drama and dance workshops which involve residents of a different Helsinki area each season. The project aims to raise awareness in local communities of the role and nature of theatre.

In January 2011 the theatre’s former restaurant reopened as the Club Scene, transformed into a late-evening club-like entertainment spot. The space has been given a new look, refurbished in a piano-bar stroke artist’s living-room style, and it offers a varied programme of music, drama and poetry performances, discussion evenings and artist soirées, put together by producer Hanna Reetta Majanen. It has also been designated as the official after-hours club for the Helsinki Festival.

Throughout its history the Finnish National Theatre has also maintained international links in various forms of partnership with foreign theatres and festivals. This continues today as the theatre co-operates with, among others, the Helsinki Festival to bring over cutting-edge examples of world drama.  In 2013 the collaboration brought internationally renowned German theatre to the Main Stage in August, with Frank Castorf’s production Der Spieler, created for Volksbühne Berlin. The theatre also participates in text-based cultural exchanges and workshops, and regularly invites guest directors or other artists from abroad, to bring new perspectives to Finnish theatre.


General contacts

Finnish National Theatre
Läntinen Teatterikuja 1
00100 Helsinki
Telephone +35810 733 11

+358 10 7331 331

email addresses  are:

Director of the Finnish National Theatre
Mika Myllyaho
Telephone +35810 733 1201

Director’s Secretary / Club Scene Producer
Hanna Reetta Majanen
Telephone +35810 733 1259 / +358 50 374 4181

Technical Director
Antti Aho
Telephone +35810 733 1264 / +358 50 320 9601

Administrative Director
Päivi Isosaari
Telephone + 35810 733 1203 / + 358 50 381 6436

Michael Baran
Telephone +35810 733 1261

Dramaturg / International relations
Eva Buchwald
Telephone +35810 733 1314 / +358 50 315 2947

Minna Leino
+35810 7331 321

Marketing Manager
Auli Turtiainen
Telephone + 35810 733 1220 / +358 50 375 3501

Head of Press
Mia Hyvärinen
Telephone +35810 733 1238 / +358 50 540 5062

Theatre educator
Pirjo Virtanen
Telephone +35810 733 1256 / +358 50 374 2296

Manager of Theatre Restaurant
Thomas Möller
Telephone +35810 733 1283

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