Featured: NO99 (Tallinn, Estonia)

NO99

[singlepic id=229 w= h= float=]Theatre NO99 began to operate in February 2005. It is a state-owned repertoire theatre that has its own building with two theatre halls in central Tallinn. The theatre’s artistic director is Tiit Ojasoo, and Ene-Liis Semper is the chief stage designer-director. The troupe consists of 10 actors, eight men and two women. The theatre produces two to four new stage productions for the large hall every season. In addition, co-production projects (for example, with the theatre school) premiere in the small hall. Drama productions are staged primarily in the large hall. They aspire towards artistic exactingness and social relevance. Texts are often composed by the directors themselves (or in cooperation with actors). Adaptations of film screenplays have been produced on several occasions. In some cases, finished drama texts have also been brought to the stage.

[singlepic id=227 w= h= float=]In addition to productions in the large and small halls, plays have been staged in the open air as well: in an old swimming pool (Seven Samurais), and in three abandoned airplane hangars (King Ubu).

The theatre has won several national and also international festival awards for productions, and for stage design and acting. Several productions have been invited to participate in international festivals in Austria (Wiener Festwochen), Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, Finland, Lithuania, and other countries.

[singlepic id=232 w= h= float=]The theatre has also issued several publications as an extension of its activities.

The name of the theatre is NO99, although it has no connection with classical no-theatre. NO is an abbreviation of the word “number” and 99 has decreased by one with each new production.

Artistic Direction

[singlepic id=233 w=320 h=240 float=left]Tiit Ojasoo (born in 1977) graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Drama School in 2000. He subsequently worked at the Estonian Drama Theatre as a director. In 2004, he was elected the new artistic director of the Vanalinnastuudio Theatre, which changed its name to NO99. Ojasoo has served as the artistic director of NO99 Theatre since 2005.

Ojasoo has thus far staged more than twenty productions in various Estonian theatres (NO99, Von Krahl, Drama Theatre, Vanemuine, Endla). Among the authors he has staged are Shakespeare (Juliet (based on Romeo and Juliet), A Winter’s Tale, Pericles), Bernard-Marie Koltes (Roberto Zucco), Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurais), Martin McDonagh (The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Pillow Man), Alfred Jarry (King Ubu). In several of his productions, he has used texts by Yukio Mishima and Sarah Kane. He has also written some parts of the text of his own productions (Oil!, GEP). In addition to drama productions, he has staged musicals (Blood Brothers, Evita) and a rock-opera (Ruja)..

Ojasoo works closely with stage designer Ene-Liis Semper, who in some cases has been the co-author and co-producer of productions (Juliet, Seven Samurais, King Ubu, etc).

In 2005, Ojasoo was awarded the prize of Best Producer of the Year together with Ene-Liis Semper. The international jury of the DRAAMA Theatre Festival has selected Ojasoo twice as Best Producer (for Juliet in 2005 and for GEP in 2007). In 2006, Ojasoo was awarded the Ants Lauter Prize for his remarkable productions staged after his graduation. His Roberto Zucco won two prizes at the Torun Theatre Festival and GEP won the main prize at the Baltic Theatre Festival in Lithuania in 2007. Also GEP won the Third Prize at the Torun Theatre Festival. Several actors have won prizes for their roles in his productions (Tambet Tuisk, Mait Malmsten, Jaak Prints, Mirtel Pohla, Rein Oja, etc).

His productions have participated in several festivals in Berlin (HAU2), Vienna (Wiener Festwochen), Cologne (Politik im Freien Theater), Moscow (Novaja Drama), Tampere (Tampere Teatterikesä), Torun (Kontakt), St Petersburg (Baltiiski Dom), Bern (auawirleben), Oldenburg (PAZZ 08) etc.

Highlighted Productions:

[singlepic id=230 w=320 h=240 float=left]How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare
In addition to the mere “message”, the stage production also considers questions of theatre phenomenology. The dependence of the realisation of the message on the capability to execute the performance is examined, thus in a sense continuing the theme of NO99’s opening production of Sometimes it Feels Like…. This time, however, the emphasis is on the measurability of the value of the execution. Yet putting the audience to the test through the participation of Beuys himself is not merely a simple decorative citation but rather an introduction to the theme of how the possibilities for appraising the fact of art are already staged into the auditorium a priori. The fact that the production is full of references and citations not only divides the audience into those who understand and those who do not, it also raises the question of the specific perception of theatre art.

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[singlepic id=225 w=320 h=240 float=left]Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Thomas McEvilley has singled out Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the only work of art that has truly changed the world. This novel was published in the mid-19th century and brought the knowledge into American homes that slavery is atrocious and that Negros have feelings. It is thought that the Civil War that broke out, as a result of which slavery was abolished, fed off just this knowledge to a great extent.

McEvilley is nevertheless mistaken. This novel could indeed have caused the Civil War, as the President of the USA said when he met the author of the book – a little old lady. But this did not change the world, because the world did not change. Slavery still exists. Nobody gives a damn about the feelings of Negros. The only change is that Negros are no longer only people with dark skin. Look at the palms of your hands. See anything familiar?

Uncle Tom was not Spartacus. He was not even Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the lyric poet of liberty and bard of the ghettos. He was a simple man with simple wishes and few dreams. Petit bourgeois? No, a slave.

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[singlepic id=231 w=320 h=240 float=left]ГЭП Hot Estonian Guys
According to various prognoses, the number of Estonians during the next years will drop remarkably. No, there is no increase in births. No, maternity benefits have not helped. No, we still do not smile at children, we do not build more kindergartens and we keep asking: what is it all for anyway?

In the name of Estonia, says the production “ГЭП”. Tiit Ojasoo’s production tells about the extinction of Estonians and the deficit of children. In this kind of situation, a group of young men decide upon a desperate, but right course of action. They have realised that the moment to save Estonians is now or never. They action is morally unacceptable, ethically dubious, but the only correct one that would achieve their goal. Who of us would want to become anonymous?

The production is based on the actors’ improvisations. “The population keeps growing for another 18 months, and then stops,” says demographer Kalev Katus. “The future is clear: some nations will die out, drastic changes will occur in the nations’ shortlist, and only those survive who manage to radically alter the foundations of their society. Population scientists agree: the existing means have not helped, and we need a totally crazy idea.” And the idea exists.

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