Ave Palm: Being human at the Draama theatre festival
Last week Tartu boasted an impressive range of Estonia’s cream of the crop of theatre actors on the occasion of its annual Draama theatre festival.
The prevalent theme of the eight performances seen, to some extent, was humanism. A lot of it focused on being human. One can’t look past that. But why is it relevant? Why is no one thinking about being an animal? Or, perhaps, what would life in another universe be like for a robot?
For example, if the robots sent to collect data on Mars would suddenly develop emotions, what would they experience or feel there? This sort of situation is, in a way, utterly impossible, but at the same time also interesting. And the world would be completely different.
But that is something that would not appeal to a regular spectator walking into a theatre, who wishes to be touched. Because they do. Why else come? For entertainment? A few laughs? Social status? And does the theatre realize that a touch must indeed be offered? It seems that at least a part of the theatre landscape does. They sense the need to ask questions, the need for people to experience emotions and be given food for thought and a new approach to different social and personal issues.
I like it immensely how such different ways are being used to bring ideas to the audience, ways the audience will certainly gain from, whose tastes in experiencing/seeing/sensing something definitely are very different. It is true, of course, that even the theatre world has to keep up with the possibilities, topics, means of mediation that are current in the rest of the world, and which mean that the essence of the theatre may change a lot in the near future.
What certainly can’t be lost, however, is personality, being present, raising questions and offering different approaches. These are the components that make the theatre such an enjoyable form of art.
Looking at the festival more generally, it can be said that the programme was put together in an interesting, diverse, and well thought out manner. It also included discussions on various social subjects, such as architecture, ecology and security, which was tied to the essence and objectives of the theatre in the current time.
It was evident that the essence of theatre can be tied to any subject very nicely, and draw parallels, find common features and aims. Also, after taking in the great ideas, at the festival one could go to concerts and relax in the evenings with the rest of the people visiting.
In the end, the question came up whether seeing such a number of performances in such a short space of time was ultimately positive, and how much the plays just seen will influence the prejudice and perception of the next ones. Experiences definitely affect each other, but at the same time they also create a better picture of the whole of the Estonian theatre world and help reach an understanding of how different people are, and that is completely acceptable, appropriate, and that’s what makes the world special.
This article first appeared on Culture.ee's blog.