KOM-teatteri Lou Salomé. Kuva Noora Geagea

Mental resilience, family and parenthood at Tampere Theatre Festival 

Preparations for the forthcoming Tampere Theatre Festival are now well underway. Hilkka-Liisa Iivanainen, one of the festival’s artistic directors has promised “a programme that feels sharp and honest, mature and totally surprising”. Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment! 
Tampere Theatre Festival will take place in the Finnish city of Tampere on 1–7 August 2022. Over the course of its 50-year run, the festival has established itself as one of Europe’s most important theatre festivals, showcasing exciting Finnish as well as international productions and talent. The programme ranges from new drama to contemporary theatre and from dance theatre to contemporary circus and street theatre. The festival draws more than 80,000 visitors annually and hosts some 350 events each year.  
According to Hilkka-Liisa (Hili) Iivanainen, who currently serves as Tampere Theatre Festival’s artistic director alongside Tanjalotta Räikkä, the thematic focus of the festival’s Main Programme is on mental resilience, family, and parenthood and, conversely, with their absence and loss.  
the festival has established itself as one of Europe’s most important theatre festivals
As co-artistic directors Tanjalotta Räikkä and I agreed on the thematic basis quite early on, as it seemed to hit a chord with us in an unforeseen manner. One might argue that topics in certain way are the ’usual’ subject matters of theatre. One might even argue they are ’bourgeois’. Yet, perhaps due to the pandemic years these everyday topics became relevant – and political – again. These domestic and dangerous themes are quite wicked: easy to access and recognisable, but far from traditional or worn out.” 
This year’s festival programme features a series of exciting productions, including E. L. Karhu’s Eriopis, originally commissioned and produced by Schauspiel Leipzig and selected by nachtkritik.de as one of 2020’s most important productions in Germany. It will be performed in Tampere by the Finnish Q-teatteri. Other plays include Aina Bergroth’s Lou Salomé, directed by upcoming director Riikka Oksanen for KOM-teatteri and Poikani joka katosi (My son who disappeared), an Oulu Theatre production written and directed by Heta Haanperä. These will be complemented by several smaller works by performance art collectives such as Vaara-kollektiivi, 4 Floors of Whores, and Kotiteatteri.  
As a curator, I think that the selected artists and performances reflect on those aforementioned topics with profound empathy as well as with poignant criticism. They do so with a wide range of point of views, aesthetics, and dramaturgies, including (but not limited to) stories of voluntary and involuntary solitude, a concept that reinvents and disrupts such normalized thing as a living room, and a performance asking what constitutes as a drama or a play,” IIvanainen says. 
How do the artistic directors themselves feel about the upcoming program? “We are really proud of this lineup,” Iivanainen says with great energy and enthusiasm. “The performances complement and challenge each other – the programme feels sharp and honest, mature and totally surprising.” 
The past two years have been challenging for festivals all over the world. Tampere Theatre Festival was cancelled in August 2020 and returned on a smaller scale in August 2021. The festival now promises to be back with a programme featuring both homegrown and international shows. But why should international curators be booking flights for a summer visit to Tampere?  
For me personally, it’s always an honour to welcome people to Tampere Theatre Festival for the first time. We are so happy to be able to again feature both national and international artists, some emerging, some established, and some that are continuously running away from any categorization. For that reason, I especially look forward to La Veronal with Pasionaria as well as the recently graduated dramaturge Arni Rajamäki with Alku, keskikohta, loppu (Start, middle, end).” 
TINFO / Linnea Stara, 5 May, 2022

Tampere Theatre Festival will take place on 1–7 August 2022.  
The performance photo: Lou Salomé at KOM Theatre, 2021. Credit: Noora Geagea

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