Celebrating independence with the president

still from a video by Juho Kauti

still from a video by Juho Kauti

Yesterday I was honoured to celebrate Finland’s Independence Day & 100th anniversary of independence at the Precidential Palace as one of the 1900 invited guests. I was there as a representative of Riihimäen Teatteri. What an exciting evening was that!

See my short moment in the spot light here where I shake hands with the president and the first lady. Thanks for the video, Juho!

I was also happy to share an interview by Aamulehti with MP Satu Hassi.

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Allekirjoita adressi Riihimäen Teatterin säilyttämisen puolesta

Kolme vuotta peräkkäin ollaan oltu Tampereen teatterikesässä, toteutettu korkeatasoisia, kiitettyjä esityksiä, osallistuttu Tanssiteatteri Minimin kanssa teatterikentän toimintamallien uudistamiseen lisäämällä yhteistyötä teattereiden välillä. Olemme luoneet teatterille myös digitaalista ulottuvuutta ja vastikään viihdytimme presidenttiä Riihimäen kaupungin mannekiineina – ja nyt kaupunginjohtaja esittää Vuoden teatteriksi valitun Riihimäen Teatterin toiminnan lopettamista. Teatterin taiteellisena johtajana olen tyrmistynyt tästä suunnitelmasta.

Lue Yleisradion, Helsingin Sanomien ja Hämeen Sanomien uutiset aiheesta ja…

ALLEKIRJOITA ADRESSI TEATTERIN SÄILYTTÄMISEN PUOLESTA TÄÄLLÄ!

In Riihimäen Teatteri we’ve been producing highly acclaimed performances that have been invited to Tampere Theatre Festival three years in a row. Besides this, in cooperation with Dance Theatre Minimi, we have participated in reforming the national model of producing theatre to make it more collaborative and we have worked to make theatre more digitally accessible. For all these reasons Riihimäen Teatteri was selected as The Theatre of The Year 2017. Just briefly we entertained mr President successfully as the showpiece of Riihimäki – and now the mayor suggests to close down the theatre. As the artistic director of the theatre I’m flabbergasted. Sign a petition to save the theatre!

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Tatu Mönttinen & Katja Peacock on stage at Riihimäen Teatteri. photo: Aki Loponen

 

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Janne Katajan Riihimäki

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Janne Katajan Riihimäki at Riihimäen Teatteri from 14 October to 16 December 2017.

Maria Säkö’s review in Helsingin Sanomat 15.10.

Pirjo Puukko’s review in Hämeen Sanomat 18.10.

Simo Sahlman’s review in Lukupino blog 21.10.

Maria Oiva’s post performance discussion with anthropologist Sanna Rauhala 21.11. (podcast)

Scriptwriter Taija Helminen interviewed in Helsingin Sanomat 29.11.

Article in YLE news 14.10.

Article including a preview video in Hämeen Sanomat 11.10.

My first work of theatre in four years! Come and see! More info from Riihimäen Teatteri.

A documentary theatre performance about a fate of a small city in Southern Finland seen through the lenses of one of it’s most well known inhabitant, media person, presenter and comedian, mr Janne Kataja.

Janne Katajan Riihimäki cuts through the last 37 years of Riihimäki’s history and focuses on the tragedy of 1990’s depression that broke the city’s identity. Simultaneously it tells the story of Kataja, how he became who he is today and what role Riihimäki played in his upbringing.

The script is largely based on interviews with Kataja and other Riihimäki dwellers. How Kataja and people on the streets envision Riihimäki’s future form the main conflict of the play. Kataja’s vision is fantastic, to him Riihimäki is a picturesque French village full of colour and hope. Compared to that passer-bys’ outlook is gritty. Realistic, some might say. From their point of view Kataja is just a lucky duck but, actually, he has done great many things to build a better Riihimäki.

In 1997 Riihimäki became the Easter Capital of Finland. 17-year-old Kataja created an Easter mascot for the celebrations. It was a bunny called Eko-Riksu. The city employed Kataja to play Eko-Riksu in various functions for several years. Riksu is the city’s nickname, Eko refers to the ecological brand it tried to build back then. Riihimäki was ahead of it’s time. Unfortunately being eco-friendly took more than a decade to become fashionable, profitable business, and the idea was buried. Riihimäki remains Easter Capital but it’s true identity, or brand, is yet to be found…

On stage you get to see Janne and other Riihimäki characters played by three marvellous actors – Riku Korhonen, Katja Peacock, Maija Siljander. Eko-Riksu the Easter Bunny and another contemporary Riihimäki celebrity, actor Aku Hirviniemi, is played by the amazing Tatu Mönttinen. Eko-Riksu tries make his come back on stage but in the end of the day the three Jannes run the show…

Janne Katajan Riihimäki is written by Taija Helminen and directed by me. Stage and costume design by Paula Koivunen, light design by Sami Rauhala and sound design by Kari Paukola. Another star from Riihimäki, singer/songwriter Samae Koskinen, has composed a song exclusively for the performance.

All photos by Aki Loponen.

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Riku Korhonen, Katja Peacock and Maija Siljander as Janne Kataja

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Tatu Mönttinen as Eko-Riksu

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Entertaining Mr President

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Mr President Sauli Niinistö visited the region of Hämeenlinna and Riihimäki yesterday. In Riihimäki a reception was held for him at The Finnish Glass Museum. Riihimäen Teatteri was there to entertain Mr President, local politicians and kids from Riihimäki Youth Theatre with a poetry performance Ehkä liioittelen vähän. With Matti Arnkil I gave a speech about why Riihimäen Teatteri is the Theatre of the Year and after the performance Mr President understood why. He was very pleased and said that beforehand he hadn’t known how good we are. Well, we were, thanks to the actors of the theatre, Katja Peacock and Maija Siljander! They did a great job. And why wouldn’t they? Ehkä liioittelen vähän is a brilliant piece of poetry on stage. Based on the poems of Anja Erämaja, directed by Taru Kivinen.

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Kickstart week ahead!

After the summer break rehearsals of Janne Katajan Riihimäki (JKR) will continue at Riihimäen Teatteri next week on Wednesday. Soon we’ll be promoting the performance in Riihimäen Asematapahtuma, singing a new Riihimäki song composed by Samae Koskinen among other things. Premiere of JKR is ahead on 14th of October. So, still some time to research and try things before making final decisions!

One can’t say the same about 24H Pori project that I’m going to participate as a director on Saturday September 2nd at Lainsuojattomat festival in Pori. In 24H Pori 6 playwrights, 6 directors and 24 actors have only 24 hours to come up with 6 new short plays from scratch. Saturday evening at 7 pm they are performed in front of the audience. I’m excited to be invited! And the list of participants is impressive. Check the list & more here and read the article by Satakunnan Kansa.

The 24 Hour Plays concept was created in New York in 1995 and the version in Pori has been arranged annually for five years now.

Lainsuojattomat (“Outlaws”) is a cosy festival for Finnish independent theatre scene. I’ve been there every now and then since 2002 with several productions, sometimes as a director, performer, journalist, panelist – not to forget the times as a festival slave and a festival sweetheart.

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Digital Stage of Riihimäen Teatteri

My dear colleague Maria Oiva is running a digital stage of Riihimäen Teatteri this year. It’s called #digiteatteri. Yes, the project is actually called Digital Theatre but I like to see it as one of the stages. Like there’s a door to the theatre, there’s also a digital gate. Most importantly, it’s not marketing the performances but a work of art in itself inspired by what happens in the theatre (and what could happen). It is a research of the relationship between what’s live and what’s recorded or distributed digitally. Take a look of Maria’s hilarious avatar CEO Maria Virtanen Korhonen in action at the reading session of Janne Katajan Riihimäki, the performance I’ll soon start directing :-)

Every Friday, there’s a new Maria Virtanen Korhonen video in the YouTube channel or a podcast of Maria (as herself) and a guest discussing performances of Riihimäen Teatteri in SoundCloud. Besides this Maria is active in Twitter and Instagram. #digiteatteri web page collects all posts here!

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