Briefly in english
“Ten reasons to make theatre in 2016:
- Theatre is a key forum for exploring prevailing currents in society.
- Theatre can make a difference.
- Theatre adapts with time. It doesn’t date, it renews itself.
- People want to see good quality theatre, they seek it out.
- People are interested in new points of view and new experiences.
- Theatre makes you think.
- Theatre is a safe environment in which to broach difficult matters.
- Theatre creates beauty.
- Theatre is empowering.
- Theatre is a place which allows debate.
As part of our ever changing society, theatre plays an important role by holding up a mirror to the reality which surrounds us, and by initiating debate on myriad issues. In many instances I hope the word theatre could be replaced by the word ‘Finland’ in the above list, as in ‘Finland is a place which allows debate’ for example.”
Mika Myllyaho, Director of the Finnish National Theatre, January 2016
This season celebrates myriad forms of theatre in a richly diverse programme which includes a wide variety of touring productions. In the main programme, the focus is on contemporary drama. In Paavo Westerberg’s new play Possible Worlds a middle-aged author’s writer’s block leads him to examine the choices he has made in life and takes him back to his childhood. Westerberg mingles personal memoirs with fiction in this affectionate tribute to the world of theatre. The play opens on the Main Stage in February, directed by the author. Also on the Main Stage, Juha Hurme directs a two-hander together with choreographer Hanna Brotherus. Töppöhörö, a comedy of Finnish male stereotypes, is written by Hurme and opens in January. On the Small Stage new British drama is represented by Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen which opened to outstanding reviews in London last year. Set in 1965 on the day hanging was abolished in England, a menacing young man walks into the pub of former hangman Harry Wade, whose daughter goes missing soon after. This black comedy features all the hallmarks of McDonagh’s style: unexpected twists, tight suspense and merciless humour. The play is translated by Sami Parkkinen and opens in March, directed by Mika Myllyaho. On the Willensauna stage, writer and director Ritva Siikala examines her personal relationship with Israel over several decades. In this fictionalized account of a young woman’s journey to a Kibbutz in the 1960’s, and her return to Israel in the present day, Siikala depicts one individual’s attempt to fathom the complexities of Israel’s historical and political landscape. Two Journeys to Israel opens in March. In the Omapohja Studio, Kirsi Porkka and Marika Meinander write and direct a new piece about parenthood, especially in blended families, in a generation where everyone feels guilty about the current state of the world. Bad Stepmother opens in February. Last but not least, the main programme presents a new children’s play this season. Veera Salmi’s novel Mauri and the Not Very Smart Phone is a warmly humorous tale of friendship which elucidates how life is enriched by diversity and imagination. Adapted and directed by Jukka Rantanen and with music by Maija Ruuskanen, the show opens on the Willensauna Stage in April.
Many of last autumn’s critical and public successes have carried over to the spring. On the Main Stage, Janne Reinikainen’s interpretation of Aleksis Kivi’s classic comedy Cobblers on the Heath examines Finnish identity in a changing world, where harmony between separate communities is not always easy to maintain. Brothers Esko and Iivari are two young men whose respective journeys into adulthood are fraught with temptation, conflict and plenty of alcohol. The betrayal and indifference of the sophisticated world leave them baffled, desperate and ashamed to go home. On the Small Stage, British author Martin Crimp makes reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy by leading the audience through domestic hell and therapeutic purgatory towards an ambivalent paradise. Directed by Minna Leino, In the Republic of Happiness is a chillingly amusing satire of contemporary obsessions. Transferring from the Omapohja Studio to the Willensauna Stage, Juha Jokela’s interpretation of British author Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs can still be seen this spring before going on tour. A couple struggles to live up to the responsibilities of both parenthood and the future of the planet. The play gives voice to a generation all too aware of its carbon footprint. These are just a few examples of the many popular shows that are continuing in repertoire this season.
This spring brings a series of monologue performances to the Finnish National Theatre. Johannes Holopainen stars in Essi Räisänen’s adaptation of Dalton Trumbo’s novel Johnny Got His Gun (15-16.1. Omapohja Studio, on tour from Lappeenranta City Theatre); Emmi Pesonen adapts and interprets Ann Herbelein’s book I don’t want to die, I just can’t live in her monologue entitled The Other Me (3.3. VR Rehearsal Space); Sauli Tiilikainen performs Olli Kortekangas’ and Michael Baran’s one-man opera Own Fault (12.5. and 14.5 Willensauna Stage, originally produced by Saaristo-oopera of Turku); and Anna Paavilainen presents her solo-piece created for Klockriketeatern PLAY RAPE (20.3. for 2 performances, Main Stage).
The Finnish National Theatre is also host to three festivals this season, as well as several other touring productions including improvisation, circus and children’s performances. An innovative project entitled Black Box brings journalism to the Small Stage for a series in which journalists present previously unpublished material and reveal the stories that have touched them the most. The theatre’s own Touring Stage has developed a number of small-scale performances which are available to hospitals and community centres. Audience outreach work continues with a new project involving residents of a Helsinki suburb, entitled Maunula Landscape. The project’s multidisciplinary workshops and eventual performances are devised and directed by Eveliina Heinonen and Juho Gröndahl. A huge variety of performances, music events, readings and discussions also fills the theatre’s own Club Scene venue. The venue’s varied programme can be accessed at www.lavaklubi.fi.
HISTORICAL ROOTS OF THE FNT
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 has also become a venue welcoming a variety of joint productions and guest performances.
A new production unit was established in 2010, under the 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 Educator 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 unit also provides educational background material related to the tehatre’s productions for the benefit of teachers.
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.
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. 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. The theatre’s cultural exchange also includes tours and collaboration abroad.
Finnish National Theatre
Läntinen Teatterikuja 1
Telephone +35810 733 11
+358 10 7331 331
email addresses are:
Director of the Finnish National Theatre
Director’s Secretary / Club Scene Producer
Hanna Reetta Majanen
Telephone +35810 733 1259 / +358 50 374 4181
Telephone +35810 733 1264 / +358 50 320 9601
Telephone + 35810 733 1203 / + 358 50 381 6436
Telephone +35810 733 1261
Dramaturg / International relations
Telephone +35810 733 1314 / +358 50 315 2947
+35810 7331 321
Head of Marketing
Telephone + 35810 733 1220 / +358 50 375 3501
Head of Press
Telephone +35810 733 1238 / +358 50 540 5062
Telephone +35810 733 1256 / +358 50 374 2296
Manager of Theatre Restaurant
Telephone +35810 733 1283