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Theatrical Landscape of Finland

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Theatrical Landscape of Finland
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Now more than ever is being written for theatre and native plays are a definite guarantee for tickets to find buyers. The theatres react as quickly as possible to social changes and problems. There will most certainly be plays in the repertoire of autumn 2009 season concerning the newly developed crisis and growing unemployment. In Finnish theatre a popular character does not take on the role of a prankster but conveys points of view which the audience are able to relate to. Humans are usually shown as individuals, which creates a more extensive image of the relations between the individual and society.

Although the topics are accessible to a regular audience - cleaning ladies, plumbers, teacher or lawyers - the theatrical forms of plays do vary considerably. The traditional well-made-plays are still the majority in repertoire, but experimental and conceptual approaches are also finding their place. Especially Freelance groups gather theatre trends from across the globe and give the Finish theatre audience a taste of brand new directions. Because the theatres are part of the commune's cultural program, they play a supportive role in society. Local topics like local history, local characters or even local nature are a never-ending source of themes for local theatres.

Sixties building boom of too large stages
As  in other places in Europe, the commercialisation of Finish theatre is noticeable. Creativity is propelled by the ideology of productivity. The cultural awareness that was kicked off at the end of the sixties lead to a building boom of new theatres. The large stages of local theatres were built too big in relation to the segmented audience of today. The result of this was that the large theatres were commercialised and it was left to small theatres to produce so-called 'art'.

The situation has meanwhile been recognised and the battle to bring art back to large stages has begun. The national theatre is one of the only large theatres to have managed to only produce straight theatre and doesn't put the all so popular Anglo-American plays in their repertoire. New generations of theatre makers (like Heidi Räsänen, Saana Lavaste, Emilia Pöyhönen) have bravely accepted the economic challenge and worked outside of local and established theatres. Apart from new groups and theatres, many of the young creators (Miko Jaakkola, Riku Innamaa, Samuli Reunanen) have taken root in the large, publically financed theatres and the more optimistic ones amongst us already foresee the last hours of the worst commercialisation.

(Translated from Finish into German by Martina Marti)


Back to the beginning


Read more about the finish stage director and dramatist Kristian Smeds.


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