Curator’s statement – The people of the great upheaval

The people of the great upheaval

People of the great upheaval. Time frame: 1989-2019. The Baltic States and its closest neighbors – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. It is precisely in these geographical and temporal boundaries that we want to explore the lives of people through theater art during the next two seasons. In collaboration with Vaba Lava, we plan to bring out 10 new productions both at Vaba Lava Performing Arts Centres in Tallinn and Narva.

“May god save us from living at the times of a big change“ – was it the Chinese philosopher Confucius who said it or Chinese folklore? Be it god or fate, we couldn`t escape it. But maybe it was god`s blessing after all and not a curse? Are we “chosen“ or the “lost generation“?

Thirty years ago the Free World opened to us, but were we really prepared for it? Have we entirely got rid of the Soviet man inside us or is it still part of psyche and we have stopped half way on the road? Why do so many people still vote for the authoritarian regimes and dream of nation-states with secure borders that could defend us from the same free world we once dreamed about?

Maybe people have been disappointed in the realities, which are quite far away from what we once imagined? Or maybe we have been disappointed in ourselves since we have failed to meet the expectations of this world? It`s high time to analyse and draw artistic conclusions about how we have evolved over this period. Furthermore, we are still in the middle of the process that is by no means over, neither literally nor in our minds. How did our parents survive these changes? What is the next generation like who know about the times before the big upheaval from stories alone?

Are the parents totally different from their children or do they have something in common? Do they have shared values? Is there still a bridge between the past and the present?

Only this time we would like to discuss these problems among ourselves. Ever so often have we exposed our wounds and weaknesses to attract the attention of the western audience. Let us be introspective this time. After all, we have been living in interesting if often absurd and cruel times. We have experienced highest spiritual elevation and deepest pits of depression, but we have never been bored. Yet we cannot be totally aware of the direction we are moving in.

We are currently seeking theatre directors from Latvia, Lithuania and Russia to participate on the curated programme with two productions from each state. At the same time, we announce an Open Call for the Estonian theatre makers to submit their project ideas resonating with the curator`s statement. Consequently, three to five projects will be selected, which will be jointly financed by Vaba Lava and the Estonian Cultural Endowment Fund and which will be presented both at the Tallinn and Narva venue. We will welcome a full spectrum of theatre productions from political theatre to fairy tales; from psychological realism to social dystopias. The premiers will be accompanied with artists` talks bringing together the audience and the theatre makers. In addition, we plan to show both guest performances by the directors presented on the curated programme as well as other guest performances from Lithuania, Latvia and Russia which resonate with the topic of the next seasons. The premiers of the curated programme will be shown in other theatres of Estonia as well as abroad.

Marius Ivaškevičius

Vaba Lava curator in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 seasons