Winners of the Annual Open Call for the 2015/2016 Curated Programme “Common People: More than Naked“

The 9 finalists were selected by the Vaba Lava curators of the next season from 244 submissions, 43 from Estonia and 201 from abroad. Apart from Europe, there were applications from countries like Brazil, China, Japan and Nigeria. The curators, Thomas Frank, the artistic director of the interdisciplinary production centre brut Vienna and the Estonian theatre critic and theatre researcher Madli Pesti, chose 9 artistic concepts that form a multifaceted but an integral whole.

All the selected projects aim at exploring the notion of community and building connection with the general public of Estonia. The productions give intriguing answers to the questions proposed in the Open Call: what is the political and social potential of the live experience of artistic articulations today? Which experiences have the power to potentially activate common feelings by being artistically transformed and publicly articulated? What are the bondages of community within a highly individualized and atomized society? The key concepts of the 2015-2016 curated programme are democracy, equality, community building, visually impaired, naked body, fear and death.

The themes cover a range of issues from democracy, self-empowerment of public spaces, the social integration of blind people, cultural attitudes towards death and interpreting and visualising collective fears to the relationship between Gender and Power.

The artistic approaches of the projects are as multifaceted as the range of themes: the selected productions include participatory theatre and dance, documentary and visual theatre, site specific works in the city space, a punk cabaret and a dinner performance involving audience participation.

The Vaba Lava curated programme comes together under the title “Common People: More Than Naked”. In the programme a strong emphasis is placed on communities – the performances directly address the people around us or question their identity. `Nakedness` is a multifaceted term that addresses the programme from many angles. The performers on stage are naked both physically and mentally: they open their world, their inner self to the audience. On the other hand, also the audience is invited to achieve a metaphorical nakedness through different means by dancing in the city, preparing dinner together or talking about their everyday life to the artists.

Selected projects

  1. Doris Uhlich “more than naked”
  2. Tiina Sööt “Real Women, Real Men and Real Others”
  3. Eva Klemets, Maria-Lee Liivak, Kairi Mändla “gender: f“
  4. Katrin Essenson and JarmoKaring “Wake up! It’s time to die.”
  5. Jaanika Juhanson and Terateater “Who is Afraid of the Blind?”
  6. Jan Martens “The Common People. Tallinn Draft.”
  7. Christophe Meierhans “Verein zur Aufhebung des Notwendigen or Hundred Steps Towards The World Peace”
  8. Julian Hetzel “Sculpting Fear”
  9. Sander Pukk “We Can Dance If We Want!”

Since one of the aims of the Open Call is to uncover new talents, the winning projects come from rising stars of the Performative Arts scene and newcomers right at the beginning of their career as well as well-known theatre practitioners. For the curators, the main criteria in finding the right projects were neither the reputation of the artist, nor geopolitics or other considerations, but above all, the artistically strong central idea of the project.

These 9 projects meet our open call on different levels and provide a wide range of artistic reflection on the public life in Estonia and beyond. Four productions directly involve audiences in a variety of ways (Jan Martens, Christophe Meierhans, Jaanika Juhanson and Tiina Sööt), two productions directly connect to the public sphere outside the theatre (Julian Hetzel and Sander Pukk), two productions are based on the idea of collaborative work in the creative process (Doris Uhlich and Eva Klemets) and two productions are based on documentary approach (Jaanika Juhanson, Tiina Sööt).

Profile of the artists

All the chosen artists show great competence and experience as theatre makers. With the selection of the Estonian artists, curators` aim is to encourage new creative communities rather than presenting already existing artistic groups. Estonian artists will be given the opportunity to work on unexpected and different projects, either as collectives in collaborative ways, site specifically outside of the theatre or by involving non-artists into their works.

The selected international artists introduce unconventional theatre propositions and strongly involve local people or local artists into their works. It is relevant that the international projects have the potential to build close links with the public sphere in Tallinn.

The next season at Vaba Lava is going to be challenging for both the artists and the public. It aims to foster artistic progress, encourage social and political debates and provoke vivid encounters and exchanges between the theatre and the city.