It felt quite incredible and a privilege that this group of six creative and knowledgeable people from different Nordic countries would come to the aid of the Finnish National Theatre’s youth theatre, Kantti, and the performance of Anne F! These things just never happen!
I’ve always liked working together and those “free-flow” in which ideas are just thrown about, where you can guess what someone else is thinking before they reach the end of their sentence. It’s as if the planning team shares a common mind. At its best, forward planning in a theatre is exactly this kind of exercise, involving other creatives, such as scenographers, costume designers, sound engineers and lighting designers. It seemed as if the participants in the Nordic Match workshop had entered such a mindset. Knowing that they jumped straight into action together despite coming from different countries and diverse backgrounds was rather touching. It kind of crystallises the concept of humanity.
It was a tense evening when the results of the group’s brainstorming were presented – it felt a bit like a premiere! Now was our chance to see what they’d come up with! And they’d certainly come up with something. We got to see a fabulous, carefully prepared, fun, visual and imaginative presentation in which every single idea was plausible. And if not all at once in the performance of Anne F, then definitely later on. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of hearing the audience’s own stories, and by the possibility of having some sort of ‘Q&A’ after the performance, such as with the actors or the representative of an organisation, followed by a party! I didn’t immediately jump for joy when I first heard the idea of having a party in the theatre in the context of a performance and open to the public. After all, the party is usually a prerogative of the working team! But after thinking about it for a moment, I made a complete U-turn: that’s precisely what we have to do! Throw a party! Let’s get the audience involved with us!
Also the audience’s questions gave me much food for thought. An interesting and important remark left me thinking about the representation of minorities, especially of first and second-generation Finns in theatrical performances and of them as theatre producers. This is a significant issue, and one to which the workshop’s participants brought their own solutions. Audience participation and involvement breaks boundaries and brings a wide range of people to the fore. However, this alone isn’t enough. Finnish theatre needs new citizens within its structures as well!
Although as theatre director I am not primarily responsible for the communication of a work, for informing the audience, for attracting people to the venue, or for managing side events, I do think that all this is part of the artistic content. Therefore, it seems that although rehearsals for Anne F don’t really start until January with a group of young people, I’ve already got lots of information in regard to this piece’s reality and relationship with its audience that I usually don’t have at this stage. We already have an ace up our sleeve!
Margaux! Bára! Lina! Leanna! Linh! Mete!
Thank you for lending your brains, wisdom, emotions, knowledge, imagination, skills and dedication to the Finnish National Theatre’s youth theatre, Kantti. You met and exceeded our expectations! I am immensely grateful.
The Finnish National Theatre’s youth theatre, Kantti
Artistic Director 2019-2021