Curated Programme




BIG DATA is a show that questions the world of today and the dangers and benefits of digital revolution. Today, we are facing a new reality, where the speed and volume of data is rapidly increasing. The massive collection, easy accessibility and rapid processing of data is changing our world beyond recognition. On the one hand, the digital and ICT revolution has brought about unprecedented benefits to humankind, on the other hand, there is an imminent threat that people are going to lose their right both to their identity and their privacy. The information overload can become a `data smog`, which dulls the senses, and makes it hard to assimilate and discriminate between things that really matter and that are just white noise. A new world is about to be born for better or for worse. For how long will our souls belong to us and we can call ourselves humans possessing free will in a world where artificial intelligence is about to take over? Have humans been throughout evolution only a start-up for digital superintelligence?

BIG DATA, is a contemplative visual poetic installation, which portrays the turbulence and chaos of the modern world. In a huge glass sphere on stage, dancers` bodies will struggle and move in circles like fish trapped in a glass jar and as if swimming around in the ocean of data. Today everything is fused together… we`re feeding off of one another… cannibalism and contamination… an orgy of the senses; the sphere can also be perceived as a crystal ball where you can see the future.

The two books that have inspired Alexandre Zeff`s BIG DATA are the Naked Man. The Invisible Dictatorship of The Digital Society (L’Homme nu. La dictature invisible du numérique) by Marc Dugain and Christophe Labbé as well as Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Alexandre Zeff has performed as an actor in 19 theatre productions and collaborated with artists such as Nada Strancar, Joël Jouanneau, Muriel Mayette, Catherine Hiegel, Caroline Marcadet, Georges Lavaudant and Julie Brochen. Alexandre Zeff is a French theatre and film director, actor and producer who trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique de Paris (Higher Drama School of the National Conservatory of Paris) both as an actor and theatre director. He has performed in many films, television series and theatre productions, including Demain à l’aube (Tomorrow at Dawn), Le Coma des mortels (Mortals in a Coma), Anton Tchekhov 1890, Par acquit de conscience (Conscience Cleared), Julie Lescaut, L’innocent (The innocent) as well as directed both feature and short films and documentaries both for the cinema and TV such as La truite et le cerf-volant (The Trout and the Kite), Roxane, Rencontres (The Reunion).

His work as a theatre director includes Le Monte-plats and Homecoming by Harold Pinter, Zone libre/Eg er vinden (I Am the Wind) by Jon Fosse, Le 20 novembre by Lars Norén and Big Shoot by Koffi Kwahulé. In 2017 his latest show JAZ was performed at the Avignon Festival at the Chapelle du Verbe Incarné. It will be performing at the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in October 2018 and touring internationally in 2018/2019 in the United States, Morocco, Japan, Italy, Martinique, Reunion Island and Guadeloupe.

Conceived and directed by Alexandre Zeff (France)

Director`s assistant: Nele Suisalu

Artistic counsellor: Claudia Dimier

Dramaturgy: Antoine Hamel

Artistic counsellor on choreography: Teet Kask

Scenography: Benjamin Gabrié

Video design: Alyona Movko

Sound design and music: Argo Vals

Sound technician: Sebastian Talmar

Lightning design: Priidu Adlas

Cast: Mirtel Pohla and Jarmo Reha (actors); Jevgeni Grib and Marita Weinrank (dancers)


Premier on 19th September 2017.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 20th September.

Location: Vaba Lava blackbox


(The Dissident)

(The Dissident) tells the story of a middle-aged former Soviet punk rocker, a one-time dedicated mischief maker and social rebel. In the past he used to know what he stood for, but times have changed, the flame of revolt has died, the great expectations faltered and failed. All the obstinate anti-establishment radicalism has come to nothing, so the snarling provocateur is facing an authenticity crisis. He has to admit the bitter truth: in the post-truth era, there is no target to hit.

Without much conviction, he still carries on raging against corporate capitalism and posting vitriolic comments in the social media. Because of his uncontrollable anger and frustration, the pathetic punk icon has lost almost all close human contacts and consequently, has been assigned for anger management therapy.


A young Swedish councellor from Stockholm uses all her professional know-how to help him learn skills to manage the triggers for anger, teach him how to relax and stay calm. But how can one tame the `raging bull` born with an angry temperament? It is not going to be easy for the therapist, for sure.


Conceived and directed by Andri Luup (Estonia)

Scenic and costume design: Arthur Arula

Sound design: Tõnis Leemets

Lightning design: Priidu Adlas

Producer: Ere Naat and Vaba Lava

Cast: Ivo Uukkivi, Mari Abel or Laura Peterson and Eliann Tulve


Andri Luup is an Estonian playwright, theatre and film director, stage desiger and actor. He has been working mainly for the theatre company Theatrum.

Andri Luup studied art at Tallinn Pedagogical University and continued his education at the Estonian Institute of Humanities, where he focused on drama and theatre studies. In theatre, Andri Luup has directed Susi (The Wolf), Phoenix, Piloot (The Pilot), Pruuniks, (The Tanned ), Reha (The Rake), Tuvi (The Dove), Talvevalgus (Winter Light). He has directed both documentaries and feature films such as Ferdinand, Nimepanijad (The Nominees), Laulurahvas (The Nation Who Sings) and Kinnunen. He has created over 10 scenic designs and performed as an actor in17 theatre productions. In addition, Andri Luup teaches film directing and dramaturgy at the Tallinn high school Vanalinna Hariduskollegium.


Premier on 4th November 2017.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 6th November.

Location: Eesti Tantsuagentuur (Estonian Dance Agency), Hobujaama 12


The End of the Night

The End of the Night, written and directed by Rainer Sarnet, is loosely based on the novel La Fin de la nuit (The End of the Night), written by the Nobel Prizewinning French author, François Mauriac. Fin de la nuit is a sequel to Mauriac`s most broadly acclaimed novel Thérèse Desqueyroux, a story of a complex woman trapped by provincial life.

Is it possible for anyone to grasp the truth? What is truth after all? Thérèse, in her relentless pursuit of the truth, can `kill with a kiss`, rip off the masks and render anyone helpless.

The beautiful poisoner Thérèse is irresistible because by trying to be ruthlessly honest, she sets her mind free. However, telling the truth seldom makes one happy: it only causes further complications.

In the middle of a web of psychologically loaded intrigue, there are two women, the mother and her daughter, spinning poisonous thread. With her music, the composer Ann Reimann from the group Eeter aims to convey the deep spiritual insight, artistic intensity and musicality of François Mauriac`s style.

Conceived and directed by Rainer Sarnet (Estonia)

Scenic and costume design: Laura Pählapuu

Composer: Ann Reimann

Cast: Maria Peterson, Maria Koff, Karl Robert Saaremäe and Eliann Tulve


Rainer Sarnet is an Estonian theater and film director and scriptwriter. He mostly writes the scripts for his theatre productions and films himself, but they are usually loosely based on fiction. Rainer Sarnet has adapted for the theater The snow (Schnee) by Stanislaw Przybyszewski, Mother by Maksim Gorki, What Happened after Nora Left Her Husband; or Pillars of Society (Wasgeschah, nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte oder Stutzender Gesellschaften) by Elfriede Jelinek, and The Language of Flower by Frederico Garcia Lorca. In 2011, Rainer Sarnet created and directed for the screen The Idiot by Fjodor Dostoyevsky for which he and the scenographer Mart Taniel was awarded the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Award.

In 2017 his feature film November was launched at the 16th Tribeca Film Festival in New York, which won the Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film Award.

Jury Comment: “We were particularly impressed by the high level of the cinematography of the films we’ve just seen which had very different styles and demands. One film was particularly audacious and showed supreme command of its visual language. The Best Cinematography Award goes to Mart Taniel for November.”

Premier on 20th December 2017.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 21st December.

Location: the hall of Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava (Independent Dance Company) at Vaba Lava theatre center


The Cloud Opera or The Dido Problem

The Cloud Opera or The Dido Problem is a performance about the human condition under the sky full of data. All the information gathered in the ´clouds´ is constantly above us and might rain down in the most unpleasant or surprising ways. The information clouds are as unpredictable and uncontrollable like the weather.

We face a cruel fact – the nice and gentle sheep clouds no longer drive the angels around but are full of data – useful and useless, sometimes full of mere entropy. Once upon a time home for God and Chance, the cloudy sky now houses a bric-a-brac shop where one can go shopping or shoplifting, fishing for valuables or just drown in the noise.

Chance has never moved away from there. That’s what the Cloud Opera or The Dido Problem is about – manmade clouds as well as real ones, gathered by the winds, can surprise us by intervening at unexpected, and sometimes quite embarrassing moments. And not only with rain.

The participating cloud types include:

Natural clouds – those who are formed when different air masses meet, those who just hang around with the wind or those who come from the chimneys;

Data clouds – those invented buy man, including the personal ones that every decent citizen keeps somewhere in the air;

Dramatic clouds – those who bring ill omen with them every time they appear and whose sudden departure calls forth a moment of happiness in conventional dramaturgy.

There are multiple story lines that will intertwine through a kaleidoscopic and combinatory dramaturgical scheme. They all set sail whenever they decide to (when the invisible button switches itself on). The characters might get confused and, by accident, change stories. As a decent opera, the Cloud Opera also has its basic myth – it is ´Dido and Aeneas´ that spreads its air roots onto all the other levels of the structure of the play. The ox skin that Queen Dido cuts into a fine string, in order to swindle the local king out of the necessary piece of land for settling Carthage, strangely resembles the ´cloud embassy´ project of the e-state of Estonia.

The fascinating theme of the quest to found the virtual State of Estonia, becomes inextricably linked in parallel to ´The Dido Problem´ and the Queen’s escape from Tyre and the founding of a new settlement in Carthage. The ´Dido Problem´ is known in mathematics as an isoperimetric enigma.

With the show The Cloud Opera, Vaba Lava is collaborating with the Creative Lab of the Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT) in developing innovative audio-visual applications in the performing arts such as virtual and augmented reality solutions.

Created and conceived by Mart Kampus, Liina Keevallik (Estonia) and Christina Batman (France)

Music and sound design: Louis Arlette (France)

Scenography: Liina Keevallik

Dramaturgy: Eero Epner

Cast: Liina Vahtrik and Christina Batman etc

Liina Keevallik has studied scenography at Estonian Art Academy and holds a PhD from the University of Paris 8. She has done set and costume designs in Estonian theatres as well as abroad (France, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Lithuania), her works ranging from big operas to underground avant-garde. She has worked as the head scenographer of Von Krahl Theatre and Estonian National Opera. She has also worked for film – designed feature and puppet films as well as directed films (Time. Wanted; the documentaries Wiiralt’s Dream; Romeo, Juliet and Jüri); written for theatre (Estonian Games. Wedding II), song lyrics and film scripts; directed visual performances like 100 Years of Traviata or the musical drama for the set Sentimental Education (with Sven Kuntu). She currently works as a freelancer in Paris and Tallinn, pursues her research in MEDIT, at the University of Tallinn. In 2016, she won the prize of the scenographer of the year 2016 in Estonia.


Mart Kampus is an Estonian actor, theatre director and lecturer of performing arts. He has directed in various Estonian theaters: NO99, VAT Theater, NUKU Theater, Von Krahli Theater, Vanemuine, Municipal Theatre of Kuressaare and Rakvere Theater. He has been noted for sophisticated and multilayered children’s plays.


Christina Batman was born in New York City and has lived in America, Iran, England and France. Her father was Iranian and her mother is an Irish-Estonian. She studied French literature and painting at the avant-garde Liberal Arts University «Bennington College» in Vermont, USA. Christina is a multi-faceted artist that works in theatre, music and film.

She has made a number of short films with Jérôme Dupont. Their last film Hanaé was one of the finalists for the 48h Film competition and was shown at the Samuel Goldwyn Oscar Academy Theater in Los Angeles and at the Ecological film festival Atmosphères in Paris.

She recently founded the group PARIS MASALA, a pop melting pot in which she is the lead singer; the project is currently in development.

Her most recent work for theater include the staging of the new piece Cette Femme Avec Qui Tu Crois Vivre by Natalie Rafal for the Fleming Welt Company and the recent co-direction of Pericles Prince of Tyre by Shakespeare.

Premier on 26th January 2018.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 27th January.

Location: Vaba Lava blackbox



The Deluge

Estonia 100 Theatre Series Tale of The Century

Deluge is a co-production of Vaba Lava and the visual and puppet theatre NUKU


The flood myth motif is found among many (ancient) cultures such as the Mesopotamian flood stories, Deucalion in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrative etc. In the narrative, a great flood, destroying a whole civilization is often brought about by a deity as an act of divine retribution.


The genre of the piece would be `epic communal drama`, where a bursting water pipe brings chaos and causes devastating deluge in an apartment building at Õismäe Road 10. The event is well-documented: the flooding, wreaking havoc in the building begins on August 1987.


In the show, devastation caused to the building by flooding can be interpreted as an extended metaphor: it is a story of a decade, when the map of Europe was reshaped, a decade, which signalled an epochal shift in ideological power structures of the whole world, a decade which transformed people’s dreams.

At the beginning of the 1980s the modern Soviet apartment building embodied the essence of luxury for all Estonians, whereas by the end of the decade it had become a grey monument to a failed utopia.

The developments of the 1980s are seen through the eyes of three pre-teenagers Kristiina, Marek and Märt. Having survived the deluge, they must now create a new world of their own. Retrospective monologues, archive footage and staged video re-enactments enable to see the interaction between personal stories and official history by placing a housing block in Õismäe as its focal point.


Conceived and directed by Jaak Kilmi, Kiur Aarma and Andris Feldmanis (Estonia)

Stage and costume design: Liina Keevallik

Dramaturg: Piret Jaaks

Music and sound design: Horret Kuus

Lightning design: Priidu Adlas

Cast: Mihkel Tikerpalu, Anti Kobin, Liivika Hanstin and choir

Producers: Vaba Lava and NUKU theatre, collaboration partner the Baltic Film and Media School


Jaak Kilmi is an Estonian film director, writer and producer. He has (co-)directed and produced a string of successful short films (Tallinn Sprats, the short film series Underwater Flihts), a number of documentary films (Living force, The Art of Selling, Disco and Atomic War, Paper Town) and two feature films (Revolution of Pigs and The Dissidents). His films have been awarded internationally and have enjoyed successful theater runs in Estonia. He teaches film directing at the University of Tallinn.


Kiur Aarma is a film producer and scriptwriter who has studied semiotics and cultural theory at Tartu University. He continued his studies at the Baltic Film and Media School Master’s program, where he focused on scriptwriting. He has worked as radio and television program director and TV producer. In collaboration with Jaak Kilmi, he has been a co-writer and producer of several documentary and feature films such as the documentary Disco and Atomic War, short lenght film The Tallinn Sprats and short film series Underwater Flights.

Andris Feldmanis is an Estonian journalist and screenwriter who has written scripts for various TV series and films.


Premier on 23rd March 2018.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 24th March.

Location: Vaba Lava blackbox


Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening is an adaptions of the play by the same title of the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. Frank Wedekind is one of the most daring dramatic spirits in Germany, who set out in quest of new truths. In Spring Awakening, his first major play, Frank Wedekind laid bare the shams of morality in reference to sexuality, especially attacking the ignorance surrounding the sex life of the child. He called his drama `the tragedy of childhood`, dedicating his work to parents and teachers. Even if Spring Awakening was written more than 100 years ago, for the Belgian director of the piece Armel Roussel, the core story of troubled teenage sexuality is as topical and intriguing as it was at the beginning of the last century. It is already the fourth time in his professional career that he has turned to Wedekind.


Adaptation, scenography and stage manager: Armel Roussel (Belgium/France)

Director`s assistant: Julien Jaillot

Lightning design: Amélie Géhin

Sound design: Pierre-Alexandre Lampert

Costume design: ColineWauters

Artistic collaboration: Nathalie Borlée

Technical direction: Rémy Brans

Produced by Gabrielle Dailly

Sets and costumes made by Ateliers du Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles

Cast: Nadège Cathelineau, Romain Cinter, Thomas Dubot, Julien Frege, Amandine Laval, Nicolas Luçon, Florence Minder, Julie Rens, Sophie Sénécaut, Lode Thiery, Sacha Vovk, Uiko Watanabe, Judith Williquet

Co-producers: the National Theater of Belgium and the Haute-Normandie Center for Dramatic Art and Vaba Lava


Armel Roussel (born in 1971) is a French director, writer, stage designer and performance artist based in Belgium. He is the artistic director of the{e}utopia3 company and a teacher at the National Institute of the Performing Arts (INSAS). He has been lecturing and conducting master classes and workshops in several countries including Belgium, France, Switzerland, Senegal, Romania and Togo.

Since the 1990s up to the present Roussel has directed 24 productions such as Roberto Zucco, The Europeans (Les Européens), Burying the Dead/Repairing the Living (Enterrer les Morts/Réparer les Vivants), Our Need for Consolation is Impossible to Fullfil (Notre Besoin de Consolation est Impossible à Rassasier), Hamlet Becoming an Atheist (Hamlet-version athée), Pop, And Björk or course, Fucking Boy, If Tomorrow Disappoints You (Si Demain Vous déplaît), Nothing Hurts, Ivanov Ré/Mix, Fear (La Peur), Rearview, Yukonstyle, Ondine Reconstructed (Ondine démontée), After Fear (Après la Peur).

His last two productions Ondine Reconstructed (Ondine démontée) and After Fear (Après la Peur) have been touring in Canada, Belgium and France. In 2017, Armel Roussel was directing plays readings for Radio France International and Le Festival d’Avignon. In 2018, he will run the production of Spring Awakening (L’Eveil du Printemps) in partnership with the National Theater of Belgium and the Haute-Normandie Center for Dramatic Art.


Premier on 10th April 2018.

Artist´s talk after the second performance on 11th April.

Location: Vaba Lava blackbox


Hackathon of performing arts

On 17-22 September 2018, HACKATHON will bring together young performing artists and dancers from Estonia, France, Belgium and other countries. During one week, they will work together to create short forms to be presented at different venues of Telliskivi Creative City in Tallinn.