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In Signa Performance, All the Stage's an Experimental Medical Lab

The trio behind the concept - Signa Köstler, Thomas Bo Nilsson, Arthur Köstler
The trio behind the concept - Signa Köstler, Thomas Bo Nilsson, Arthur Köstler Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

A Danish-Austrian theatre is injecting a note of levity and philosophical inquiry into the topic of human brain research with an installation-performance in Tallinn.

The Signa Theatre sought out cast members in Estonia and - with their informed consent, of course - set to conducting "partial brain transplants" on the ninth floor of an old office building.

The product, born of two months of rehearsals and titled "Bleier Research Inc," premiered on December 8. ETV called it more of an installation than stage performance, although it has both actors and an audience.

The question is, which is which?

That is the usual M.O. for Signa - they go to a location, choose locals to play the roles and let the idea be influenced by the environment. In this case, the closed office layout of the Standard building lent themselves well to a "hospital."

"There are these fictional doctors who have invented a way to transfer telepathy into people," said the sound and media director Arthur Köstler on ETV.

The story looks at how the "telepathic people" meld with society and who benefits.

"Even if people come to see the performance a second time, the performance never starts from zero. The characters recognize you, know you have been there before and you can start a personal interaction with them," says concept creator and actor Signa Köstler.

Although reminiscent of some productions by the Estonian troupe NO99, it is a novel format for Estonia. All 13 actors are from Estonia and have no previous acting experience.

"It has worked well. Some say Estonians are reticent but we have never experienced that," said costumes and set designer Thomas Bo Nilsson.

Signa's "Bleier Research Inc" will be performed in Tallinn twice a day until December 15.

Kristopher Rikken

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