Baltic Circle Theatre Festival - EFFE Laureate

Simon Mundy - 02 Sep 2019

Simon Mundy interviews Hanna Nyman, Managing Director

The title of the festival after 19 years is somewhat misleading, admits its Managing Director, Hanna Nyman. 'That was how the festival started,' looking at what was happening in theatre in the Baltic region, 'but now we are not really focused on that. We have thought about changing the name but it's what people know us as and it's a good brand.'

44110076850 47Bdba8Dd5 O

The local context of Helsinki and southern Finland has come to be more important. 'There is an energy in Finnish theatre at the moment, a new wave of collective working that depends much less on a writer's text,' she says. 'The borders between different disciplines are shifting and floating.' She feels performers and directors, as well as dancers and film makers, are exploring this more than traditional theatre. It is, of course, a trend that has been visible across European theatre for over 50 years but is now becoming mainstream.

The festival was first envisaged in 1996, when a network of Baltic and Nordic theatre makers came together. It was held in Helsinki in 2000 but not as an annual event until 2007 and afterwards. It sees itself as a meeting place for theatre professionals still, as well as a showcase for contemporary trends.

This mission has seen it invite a far wider international representation, from as far afield as Japan and Canada. It has also led the team to explore more challenging relationships with the local community. Hanna Nyman is particularly proud of a production called All the Sex I Ever Had, worked up by a Canadian collective which was devised from the stories of local people over 65. 'It was such a touching and subtle performance.' she says, 'and very important to see for our audience, who are mostly under 40 and were confronted, not only with the life of their parents' generation but also their own future.'

Note from the EFFE International Jury

This festival involves the Nordic and the Baltic countries, including Russia, in terms of looking at what theatre is today. It has changed character and is now managed by younger hands; an idealistic project which enables people to work together across borders to create something special.

Baltic Circle Theatre Festival

12 Nov 2019 - 17 Nov 2019

Helsinki, Finland