Nätyläiset Terijoella piirros harjoitushuoneesta

NOKKA/HOC: Continuing to Sniff out Cross-National Cooperation

In the period 1809-1917, Finland was an autonomous grand duchy of the Russian empire. As a result, Finland and Russia have over a century of shared heritage on the stage, since the earliest days of Finnish-language theatre. Relations of trust have been tried by and survived the storms of revolution, the restrictions of the socialist Soviet Union, and the new economic winds stirred up by crumbling walls; they continue to be maintained during the current EU sanctions. The phrase “Leave no one behind” has proved stronger than national borders at guiding the operational philosophy of theatre practitioners in both countries.

TINFO – Theatre Info Finland has helped facilitate the maintenance of these Finno-Russian contacts. The name of the TINFO-coordinated program NOKKA/HOC [nos] (“Nose”) conveys the curiosity by which art is created, and associations with Gogol’s nose are by no means out of the question in this day and age.

The phrase “Leave no one behind” has proved stronger than national borders

At present, the entities participating in NOKKA/HOC include the Q-teatteri-produced Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival, the University of Tampere Degree Program in Theatre Work and the Kajaani Town Theatre. Also involved are the Swedish company DuvTeatern and the St Petersburg-based Apartment company, both of which create theatre with the disabled, as well as the Finnish-Russian group InterLab, which partners with the National Theatre of Karelia in Petrozavodsk.

Over the fall, the feminist work group Kilari, the Vapaa Vyöhyke company, which has produced the poetry performance Toivo (“Hope”), the puppet theatre partnership Taussi & Bredenberg, and the Finnish National Theatre’s just filming will be performing at festivals in Kazan, Kurgan, and St Petersburg. Networking trips for theatre professionals to festivals are arranged in both directions.

This year, Finnish theatres have brought three adaptations of Fyodor Dostojevsky novels to the stage. The National Theatre’s Crime and Punishment as directed by Johanna Freundlich has toured Finnish reform schools. The Brothers Karamazov, as adapted for three actors at the Kajaani Town Theatre, has been invited to the Dostoyevsky Theatre Festival at Veliky Novgorod in 2019. Samuli Reunanen adapted and directed his own version of the same novel for the Finnish National Theatre. Jari Juutinen’s adaptation and direction of Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler is opening this year’s Dostoyevsky Festival in Veliky Novgorod. The work was co-produced by sadsongskomplex:fi collective, which was founded by Juutinen.


Jukka Hyde Hytti, hyde(a)tinfo.fi


Building Theatre Bridges between Finland and Russia

Moscow, autumn 1905. Russia is engaged in a bloody war with Japan. Defeat looms on the horizon. A new conscription law compels Finnish men to join the Russian army. A revolutionary movement takes advantage of this state of war, making itself visible on Moscow’s. Meanwhile, Finland’s most famous actor, Ida Aalberg, and her company are performing Ibsen’s plays in a Moscow theater. In German. Sitting in the full house, Eino Kalima, a young student of literature preparing his dissertation, admires Aalberg. He is impressed by the artistry of the actors at the Moscow Art Theatre, established only a few years earlier. Kalima later becomes the Finnish National Theatre’s long-term director (1917-50) and is recognized throughout Europe as a director of Chekov.

St Petersburg, autumn 2018. Twelve Finnish acting students from the University of Tampere Degree Program in Theatre Work are preparing to perform a never-before-seen surrealist-toned production of Alexander Vvedensky’s A Certain Quantity of Conversations (1936-37) for a St Petersburg audience at the Dostoyevsky Museum theatre. In Russian. The objects of their investigation are the impact of a foreign language on an actor’s idiom, presence, and interaction. Over the course of an intensive eleven-day theater camp, the director Boris Pavlovich has had the actors produce ten scenes, conversations written during Stalin’s purges that continue to – or perhaps we should say “once more” – speak to contemporary audiences in a chilling language. The performance will be seen twice in Tampere, and preliminary plans to bring it to Moscow are in the works.

Helsinki, November 2018. According to statistics, Finland is Europe’s fastest-aging, and thus, fastest-dying nation. A pastor, a cantor, a cemetery employee, and a gravedigger ask the audience what they would like to bury? We’re in the middle of the documentary theater performance, Death at Work, produced by the Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival, during which funeral rituals are brought into the ritual of performance.

The performers are actual professionals in the field of mortality, and the performance tells of their relationship to death. In Finnish. How do people enter the field, and how have attitudes towards death changed over time? Death is also illuminated from a statistical perspective. The director is the St Petersburg-based Semion Aleksandrovsky, and the stage and visual designer is Ksenia Peretrukhina from Moscow. The performance will be simultaneously interpreted into English.  


See also
Spotlight On: Boris Pavlovich