Tampere Theatre Festival's 2019 Main Programme celebrates bravery


The 2019 Tampere Theatre Festival marks the first time a work by Milo Rau, one of Europe’s leading theatre directors, will be performed in Finland. The festival’s ample lineup also includes a few high-profile domestic joint productions. The 51st Tampere Theatre Festival, the largest and longest-running event of its kind in Scandinavia, is scheduled for August 5–11.

Nineteen productions in the Main Programme, one word to sum it all up: bravery. The 2019 Tampere Theatre Festival is filled with works that tear down the walls of fear and racism and boldly rewrite Western myths and legends. In the words of the festival’s artistic team of Hilkka-Liisa Iivanainen, Aleksis Meaney and Tanjalotta Räikkä:

”The common factor among this year’s selections is bravery, irresistible bravery. What really characterizes the artistic input is the courage to stand up and speak up, to crush stereotypes and taboos, to rise against fear. These are works that are directly aimed to deconstruct colonialism and racism as well as shed light on the causes and effects of fear. The content is powerful and the themes are big, yet there are no dark doomsday clouds hanging over the festival, quite the opposite. This is a celebration of civil courage and presence, of being there, and it’s an invitation to empower yourself with theatre.”

International talents will be arriving from the UK, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Sweden. The domestic lineup includes outfits such as the Finnish National Theatre, Jurkka Theatre, the Red Nose Company, Circo Aereo and Dance Theatre MD, as well as a number of unique collaborations.

Presenting Milo Rau

Tampere Theatre Festival is proud to host the Finnish debut of trailblazing director Milo Rau. Challenging the distinction between performance and reality, The Repetition. Histoire(s) du théâtre (I) (in French La Reprise. Histoire(s) du théâtre (I)) is a five-act crime story based on a cruel murder that took place in Belgium in 2012. Born in Switzerland in 1977, Rau is a revered theatremaker and the founder of IIPM, the International Institute of Political Murder, an arts collective focusing on theatre and film. He is also the current artistic director of the Belgian theatre company NTGent.

Hot Brown Honey rolls over Finland

Hailing from Australia, the Briefs Factory brings its World Pollination Tour to Finland, taking over the Tampere Hall. A mind-altering, system-shocking mix of politics and hip-hop, Hot Brown Honey crushes prejudice and decolonizes the globe one stage at a time. After Tampere, this tornado will hit Turku’s Logomo and Espoo City Theatre.

Updating Western myths and legends

Looking at a mother through the eyes of her innocent children, Australians Anne-Louise Sarks and Kate Mulvany have transformed one of the darkest Greek tragedies into a thought-provoking depiction of an irreversible act with their take on Medea for the Swiss Theater Basel.

Medusa’s Room, written and directed by Saara Turunen for the Q-teatteri company, also dives deep into Greek mythology. It turns the legend of Medusa into an examination of gender-related power dynamics and the practices of silencing.

The building blocks of an identity

In her solo piece Man on the Moon, Keisha Thompson deals with her complex relationship with her father and the Black British female experience.

An Iranian currently residing in Berlin, Nassim Soleimanpour created Nassim to examine how language works both as a unifier and a separator of people. In this unique performance, the on-stage collaboration is also the first time the director meets his Finnish actors.

Directed by Johanna Freundlich and based on Pajtim Statovci’s debut novel, the Finnish National Theatre’s My Cat Yugoslavia moves between multiple timelines while following the fates of a family living in Finland and Kosovo.

Adapting classics

Jurkka Theatre and director Alma Lehmuskallio dust off Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House with Nora, a piece dealing with the settings, roles and boundaries that can’t hold a woman down.

A joint production of eight theatre companies, Man’s Rib is Mikko Roiha’s take on Maria Jotuni’s 1914 classic that turns the original into a comedy about the hunger for love.

Histories, stories and truths

Klockriketeatern, Sirius Teatern and Teater Mestola join forces with acclaimed director Juha Hurme in their Thalia Award winning rendition of Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade, set in the turbulent years following the French Revolution.

Examining our concepts of history, truth and recollection, writer-director Milja Sarkola and Ryhmäteatteri take us back to 1918 with Harriet, a play based on actual events involving Sarkola’s great-grandmother.

Dance Theatre MD presents an evening of two top choreographers, Alpo Aaltokoski and Susanna Leinonen. Aaltokoski’s Sisters is a depiction of sibling affection, while Leinonen’s The Field takes a contemporary woman’s look at the effects of the 1918 Finnish Civil War.

The recipient of the 2019 Achievement Award presented by the Union of Dance and Circus Artists of Finland, the Kinetic Orchestra makes its debut at Tampere Theatre Festival with I’m Liquid, choreographed by Jarkko Mandelin.

The many layers of sex

In SLICK, Swedish actress, dancer, choreographer and DJ Sofia Södergård presents us with Qarl Qunt, a drag king on his fourth world tour and the centerpiece of a dazzling dish of cabaret, dance and physical theatre.

A Red Nose Company production directed by Marielle Eklund-Vasama and starring Minna Puolanto and Hanna Seppä, the acclaimed Babylon aims a female gaze at the practices of power and sexual control.

Two powerful productions by two art schools

Actor Geoffrey Erista zooms in on the racialized body and Black masculinity while examining the experience of a person of African descent growing up in Finland. N.E.G.R.O. – Nhaga & Erista Growing ’n Reaching Out is Erista’s thesis piece for the Theatre Academy.

In the summer of 1969 Hair hit hard at Tampere Theatre Festival, performed by the local Popteatteri company. This year’s festival features a massive throwback to that legendary hippie era, courtesy of a joint production by Tampere University, Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Tampere Conservatoire. Helmed by director Pauliina Hulkko, the brand-new Hair wonders if the original’s philosophy still resonates with today’s society.

For younger audiences

Starring actor-mime Marc Gassot, Lion – The Weird and Magical Abracadabra Circus Show is a tribute to circus, spiced with pantomime, clownery and magic. A joint production of the Finnish National Theatre, TTT Theatre and Turku City Theatre, and directed by Circo Aereo’s Sanna Silvennoinen, Lion appeals to audiences of all ages – even teenagers!

Les Dudes presents family-friendly street theatre with Stories in the City, starring Pikku Kakkonen’s own Senja Meriläinen and Philippe Dreyfuss of Cirque du Soleil fame.

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