Tampere Theatre Festival announces its Main Programme 2023


August 2023 sees the 54th coming of Scandinavia’s biggest theatre event, as Tampere Theatre Festival once again takes over the city to present an outstanding and diverse selection of domestic and international productions. The festival is scheduled for August 7–13.

The Main Programme features a total of 19 productions, five of which are foreign. Guest artists will be arriving from Estonia, Belgium, Canada and Guinea. The international lineup also includes the feature film Shadow by the Australian theatre company Back to Back.

The Finnish lineup includes the city theatres of Kouvola, Lappeenranta, Kajaani, Kuopio and Turku, alongside Pori Theatre, The National Theatre, Q-teatteri and Jurkka Theatre, as well as independent outfits such as Porttiteatteri and Kallo Collective.

This year’s Main Programme revolves around the themes of nature and its future, humanity, loneliness and outsiderness. The selections have been made by the festival’s artistic board – Taija Helminen, Hilkka-Liisa Iivanainen and Tanjalotta Räikkä – and executive director Hanna Rosendahl.

An international lineup of theatre, contemporary circus and a feature film

Circus Baobab is a Guinea-based collective of circus artists, whose festival contribution Ye! (”Water!”) is a fired-up fusion of acrobatics, human pyramids and hip-hop. The company blends contemporary circus with traditional African circus to create fascinating hybrids of modern entertainment and ritual dances. The festival show is co-produced by the Tampere Hall.

Getting under the human skin in four wordless episodes, Flesh is the latest step into the unknown on the theatrical playground of Cie Still Life. The adventurous Belgian theatre company is helmed by Sophie Linsmaux and Aurelio Mergola, who have created two decades’ worth of highly original, word-free theatre.

Actor-director Juhan Ulfsak, playwright and art historian Eero Epner and choreographer-director-dancer Mart Kangro present their newest joint work. It Stays As It Is sees through mental walls and asks how to survive in the existing space and play with restrictions. The trio’s previous co-creation, Workshop, won an Estonian Theatre Award in 2019.

Canadian contemporary theatre director James Long hits Tampere with a one-of-a-kind performance – a lecture of sorts about loneliness – before which Mr. Long will spend a week in town in preparation. Twinkling throughout the festival, Lonely Lonely Oh So Lonely will be accompanied by solo pieces by collaborating theatre students from Tampere University.

The Main Programme also includes a special treat: the first feature-length film by the award-winning Back to Back Theatre from Australia. With a cast consisting of actors with disabilities, Shadow is a bold statement and a darkly humorous meditation on individual and collective responsibility. Back to Back questions the assumptions of what is possible in theatre – and the assumptions we hold about ourselves and others.

A celebration of regional theatre

The festival showcases Finnish theatre from all across the country. The heavyweight division includes Turku City Theatre’s Nokia (written by Sami Keski-Vähälä, directed by Mikko Kouki), Kajaani City Theatre’s adaptation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (dir. Helka-Maria Kinnunen), and Pori Theatre’s The Match Factory Girl (dir. Jarno Kuosa), the first stage adaptation of Aki Kaurismäki’s 1990 film.

Co-produced by Vanha Juko Theatre & Turku City Theatre and directed by Juho Mantere, The Unknown Soldier takes on another classic – Väinö Linna’s iconic war novel – and lets loose four actors in multiple roles to present the full lineup of the book’s central characters.

Kouvola Theatre makes its first trip to the festival with Out in the Woods. Written by Iira Halttunen and directed by Seppo Honkonen, the play wonders what the forest can give us, and what we can take from it.

Representing South Karelia, Lappeenranta City Theatre’s Thalia-winning The Last Atlantis is based on the 2020 debut novel by Antti Hyyrynen, the guitarist-singer of the group Stam1na, and the band’s 2010 album. With music and sound design also by Hyyrynen, the play is adapted and directed by Tuomo Rämö.

Also focusing on nature, Tuija Kokkonen & team present Kemi – II Memo of Trees, a look at climate change and climate activism specifically.

Sara by Virpi Rautsiala and Kuopio City Theatre paints a living picture of fashion trade entrepreneur, arts patron and collector Sara Hildén (1905–93). Fleshing out a dozen characters, Virpi Rautsiala’s solo performance takes place at the Sara Hildén Art Museum, naturally.

Leading the way from the nation’s capital, The Finnish National Theatre presents Letting Go, directed by Heini Junkkaala and based on Nelly Juulia Kärkkäinen’s personal experiences of wanting to have a child, getting treatment for infertility and giving up hope.

Founded in 2015, The Porttiteatteri Company from Helsinki is a community theatre with an ensemble consisting of persons released from incarceration or on probation, along with professional artists. Their production, Pottery Shards (directed by Tuija Minkkinen), is a documentary piece about exclusion.

In Jurkka Theatre’s Jane! Jane! Jane!, directed by Sini Pesonen, Oscar-winning actress and Queen of Aerobics Jane Fonda turns up and changes the life of the play’s lead character.

Writer-director Lauri Maijala and Q-teatteri present The Pimpsons, an outrageous pop tragedy about a family. Also tapping into popular culture, TTT-Theatre’s Action Hero by Liila Jokelin pops the hood of action movies to see their ideological inner workings in a high-velocity comedy about unfinished people and a piece of art.

Of course the festival also caters to young audiences. Kallo Collective’s family-friendly Receptionists is a physical comedy about two slick and smooth front desk professionals exquisitely portrayed by virtuoso clowns Inga Björn and Kristiina Tammisalo.


Tickets go on sale on May 11 at 11 a.m. at Lippu.fi and the festival ticket office.

Media photos:


More information:

Executive director Hanna Rosendahl, +358 40 5944 600

Head of PR and marketing Tiina Hurskainen, tiina.hurskainen@teatterikesa.fi +358 40 8655 852

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