Emelie Zilliacus ja Martin Paul

The new artistic directors of Hangö Teaterträff want to shake things up 

Emelie Zilliacus and Martin Paul, the newly minted artistic directors of the international Hangö Teaterträff festival will be performing their show The Porn Horror Musical 2 at the festival in a couple of weeks. The festival that has been an annual meeting point for the Swedish-speaking artistic community in Finland for more than 30 years, has in recent years developed into an important venue for Finnish contemporary performance and live arts. TINFO reached out to the duo to hear what we can expect to see at the festival in a year’s time, when their own programming will meet the public in Hanko, a quiet resort town the southern archipelago of Finland.  
TINFO: Do you remember your first visit to the Hangö Teaterträff theatre festival?  
Emelie Zilliacus: I went there in the summer I was accepted to the Theatre Academy. Having grown up far away from the capital region and its artist circles, I found everything really exciting. After that I’ve regularly returned to the festival, usually as a performing artist.  
Martin Paul: I have the exact same memory of going there with Emelie.  
TINFO: What made you decide to apply for the position as artistic directors? 
Emelie: (Laughing) We had agreed with Martin to apply long before the position was vacant. This festival just feels like home. We’ve spent so much time there over the years. It’s changed its profile significantly over the years, nowadays it features performances in both Swedish and Finnish, as well as international guests. And it takes place in Hanko (ed. in English and Finnish, Hangö in Swedish), this cute small town by the sea.   
Martin: What also intrigued me was the role that the festival plays within the Swedish-language theatre field in Finland – and the possibility of making space for more new art within it. After all, there are only a few platforms for Swedish-language contemporary performance in Finland.  
Emelie: It’s a great platform to showcase your work at, in order to bring it to other festivals. 
Martin: It has also not just evolved into an international festival, but also a truly national one through collaborations with the other performing arts festivals in Finland, particularly the ANTI – Contemporary Arts Festival in Kuopio and the Baltic Circle festival.  
TINFO: Why do you think progressive Swedish-language live arts collectives – such as Oblivia, Nya Rampen, Blaue Frau, Four Floor of Whores and your own collective, Glitcher – have all been able to create such strong profiles within the Finnish and international performing arts field, though Swedish-speaking performing artists graduate only every three years from the Theatre Academy? 
Martin: I have no idea, but I can’t help but think that what unites us is a desire to shake things up within the Swedish speaking community.  
Emelie: I also think our former professor Anders Carlsson at the Theatre Academy should be given credit for encouraging us and the Four Floors of Whores collective to try and make it on our own.  
Martin: … and let’s face it, it probably has to do with the resources available to us as Swedish speakers through independent foundations. More is available to us than to our Finnish-speaking colleagues.  
TINFO: What can we look forward to in a year’s time?  
Emelie: (Laughing) Our tastes are quite different, but we usually reach an agreement quickly.  
Martin: What unites us is a fascination with theatricality. The awareness of it, and the play that it enables. But I’d also like to consider who the festival really is for. I’d want to create a feeling of togetherness among the audience, and to explore its potential.  
Emelie: The performances we’re now planning have all an awareness of the social space that surrounds them, and of their audiences.  
TINFO: Will we be experiencing an international festival in the future as well? 
Emelie: Yes.  
Martin: That’s the goal, but also the challenge.  
TINFO: What’s the ultimate festival experience for you?  
Martin: I do enjoy a well curated program, but I can also get tired of attending festivals with a packed program. I would want space to breathe as a festival goer. That said, Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels from which we just returned did give us a lot of ideas.  
Emelie: I enjoy performances that are in dialogue with each other. Though the festival attracts mainly professionals, my dream would be to create a festival that would be attractive to the diverse inhabitants of Hanko as well. 
TINFO: What are you looking forward to seeing at the upcoming festival, the last one curated by artistic directors Jonas Welander and Tom Rejström?  
Martin: Unfortunately we might not have time for many as we have three performances of our show The Porn Horror Musical 2 at the festival, and we’ll need time to recouperate in between. 
Emelie: I hope to be able to see as many shows as our schedule allows. I’m also looking forward to the clubs, and just to get into that festival groove.  

TINFO / Linnea Stara 28.5.2024 
Photo: TINFO

The Hangö Teaterträff festival is organised annually the first weekend of June in Hanko, a small resort town in the archipelago of the southernmost point of mainland Finland. The festival is one of the main events within the Swedish-language theatre field in Finland, connecting local, international, the traditional and the experimental. The festival is held June 6-9 and features performances, concerts, discussions, and lectures.  
Emelie Zilliacus and Martin Paul are the new artistic directors of Hangö Teaterträff for 2025-2027. Zilliacus and Paul are two of the founding members of the Glitcher performance collective, that today includes Joel Forsbacka, Josefine Fri and Oscar Fagerudd. Their latest show The Porn Horror Musical 2 will be performed at the festival on June 6, 7 and 8.  

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