Projects and Vision 2015/2016

Curators’ Statement for the 2015/16 season: “Common People: More than Naked”


The call

In December 2014 the new performing arts center, Vaba Lava/ Open Space, released an international call for artistic project proposals which redefine, question or challenge the notion of community and collectivity within the public realm of performative events. We were looking for artistic approaches which would build connections with the public in Estonia by creating a vital dialogue between the artists and the public.

We received 244 applications which included 201 international and 43 Estonian. Thirty-five countries represented for example Brazil and Belorussia, Norway and Nigeria. We selected nine artistic concepts that create a multifaceted but integral whole. The productions give intriguing answers to the questions proposed in our 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 publically articulated? What are the bondages of community within a highly individualized and atomized society?

Thematic approach

The selected productions include participatory theatre and dance, documentary theatre, visual theatre, site specific works in the city space, a punk cabaret and a common dinner. The performances are connected with the keywords: democracy, equality, community building, visually impaired, naked body, fear and death.

Our programme includes rising stars as well as well-known masters. We have artists loved by every performing arts festival in Europe but also the experimenters at the beginning of their careers. The main selection criteria were not artist’s reputation, geopolitics, or potential glitter of the performance, but above all – an artistically strong project concept.

The program is titled “Common People: More than Naked”. Emphasis is on common people. They are on stage with the performances addressing them directly or questioning the identity and everyday life of common people. The nakedness is a multifaceted term that addresses the program from many angles. The performers on stage are naked both physically and mentally. They open their world, their inner self, to the audience. Additionally, the audience is invited to a metaphorical nakedness: dancing in the city, preparing dinner, talking about their life to the artists. Beyond these aspects of nakedness: everyone is allowed to discover one’s own path through the program.

Selected projects:

Doris Uhlich – “more than naked”
Tiina Sööt – “Real Women, Real Men and Real Others”
Maria-Lee Liivak, Kairi Mändla – ”gender: f“
Katrin Essenson and Jarmo Karing – “Wake up! It’s time to die.”
Jaanika Juhanson and Terateater – “Who is Afraid of the Blind ?”
Jan Martens – “The Common People. Tallinn draft.”
Christophe Meierhans – “Verein zur Aufhebung des Notwendigen or One Hundred Wars to World Peace”
Julian Hetzel – “Sculpting Fear”

These nine projects meet our open call on different levels and provide a wide range of artistic reflection on public life in Estonia and beyond. The themes cover issues of democracy, mass movement and liberation, self-empowerment of public spaces, social integration of blind people, public relationship with death, and construction of collective fears. Heightened focus is placed on the power relationship between the male and female genders in society.

The artistic approaches are as wide ranging as the themes. Four productions invite common people into the artistic work to various degrees (Jan Martens, Christophe Meierhans, Jaanika Juhanson and Tiina Sööt), two productions directly connect to the public space outside the theatre (Julian Hetzel and Sander Pukk), two productions are based on the idea of collaborative work in a collective process (Doris Uhlich and Eva Klemets), and two productions are based on documentary approach (Jaanika Juhanson and Tiina Sööt).

Profile of artists

All the selected artists show great competence and experience as theatre makers. With the selection of the Estonian artists, our aim is to encourage formation of new creative communities rather than presenting existing artistic groups. The selection of Tiina Sööt is a commitment to a young and emerging Estonian artist for the next step in her professional career. The other Estonian artists are given the opportunity to work on unexpected and different projects, either as collectives in collaborative ways, site specifically outside 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 was important that the international projects have the potential to build close links with public space in Tallinn.

Next season at Vaba Lava aims to be challenging for both the artists and the public. It aims to foster artistic progress, to encourage social and political debates and to provoke vivid encounters and exchanges between the theatre and the city. Now is the time for the public to accept our invitation.


The curators Madli Pesti & Thomas Frank, April 2015