Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kajaani teatteritapaaminen, to summarize

Kekrijuhlat: the victim
Kekrijuhlat: we burn the goat

Yes and but so. This pukki is now long gone, its ashes somewhere caught under a blanket of snow or drowned in the partially-frozen river of Kajaani in north/central Finland, all as part of the Kajaani political theatre festival this year. We went there with Rahan seurakunta, a piece about the influence of money, directed by Atro Kahiluoto. It means "money congregation" literally, and that's what it is. The church of cash. Base your life on finances and you've got grounding. You have a way to measure your potential. You have a concrete way of living and obtaining happiness; money itself is not the happiness, but what you want to do with money is. And so. Our space was small but much bigger than what we're used to at the höyhentämö, and it was a real challenge trying to be inclusive of a larger audience. Juha, in his sermon--it was funny to watch this, and he seemed to agree with my assessment--it was as though he'd preach to us and see that we were such a small group, and then preach to the audience and realize that they were just too big, and so he ended up creating his own space in the middle. Still, the show was a pretty good one, and the liver was smelly as ever. After three washings with dish detergent my hands still reeked of bloody organ. (Ending scene involves meat, that's all that's needed to know I think.)

Sauna! In! Hotel room!
Sauna! In! Hotel room!
The weekend went something like this:
- 10am-4pm Thursday Alice rehearsal, then go pack
- 19:00 train to Kajaani, cannot sleep sitting up, write some work stuff on laptop
- 1:30 at the hotel, in which the rooms all have SAUNAS! OMG!
- 8:30 friday up, breakfast, go to the theatre
- 10:00 set up and rehearse in totally unfamiliar space
- 13:00 lunch-ish
- 14:30 warmup
- 15:30 perform
- then a wee break, watching Toistoisin (another show), going outside to scream at that giant straw goat for exactly one minute while photos are taken that will appear on tomorrow's front page of the local newspaper, and then go inside for a four hour discussion about political theatre. In Finnish. After that, my brain being painfully full, we went to the bar, after picking up the päiväraha (money! to perform! enough to keep us in beer far too long!).

Saturday involved waking up too late for the first film unfortunately, just catching Markus Ohrn's perverse films (feeding a blow-up doll and fisting a watermelon... hard to explain, but sometimes hilarious or awful or both), watching a beautiful dance video from Teemu Määttänen and then Paula Tuovinen's excellent dance piece REvenge, and then off to another theatre to see Opetusnäytelmä, or lesson play (based on the Brecht concept), which was again highly entertaining and with great performances. The quality of the work presented at this festival was surprisingly good, which definitely helped the discussions. After this second show, it was time for the local children to scream at the goat for one minute, after which with drums and torches we led the pukki down to the river, set it on fire--no, wait, we wait a bit for the fire brigade to come. Let's just wait a bit longer. Boy, good thing we have these drums so I can dance and yell "burn the goat" slogans and forget for a moment here and there that my feet are blocks of ice. No fire brigade? Fine, fine. Just let me fish this bottle of kossu out of my inside-out jacket (dress code) pocket... and but so finally they showed up, we set it on fire, and let it go its merry way on the river until consumed. Then back to the hotel for sauna, and to the theatre again for a party, which ended with me, Juha, Akseli, and Toistoisin's Linda in Akseli's hotel room at 5 in the morning arguing about the death penalty.

Juha, Kajaani, and a taxi
Juha, when hungover, will take a taxi in a small town
Which made it easy of course to get up for the next morning's four-hour discussion about political theatre. At least it was nice to see other people commenting lovingly on others' remarks while their glassed-over eyes betrayed similiar nights of revelry.

Hats off to the organizers, though -- when we got there, they had a car to pick us up and take us to the hotel, a good 10 minute walk away, and in general the whole thing was expertly planned, if a little tight on the schedule. While there wasn't exactly much in terms of concrete plans for future collaboration, I think many people would be open to working with each other after meeting in that kind of environment. And the town: cold, snow-covered, quiet, peaceful, and lovely. Ignoring the fist-fightingly bleeding specimens getting chucked out of the nightclub on Friday night (and that's just the women), Kajaani is perfectly idyllic.

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