This weekend, the Vaba Lava Narva Theater in Narva hosted the premiere of the play "100% Narva." Produced by German theater company Rimini Protokoll, the play brought 100 Narva residents onto the stage to reveal hidden sides of the Estonian border city.
Narva is the 41st location to have been chosen for the project "100% city," which aims to put a human face to the official statistics by giving a voice to a wide range of citizens selected to reflect the demography of the local community.
The play is based on a series of questions, which the audience must answer honestly, by choosing sides. Casting the actors and preparing the play took about six months, during which time, it became clear, that certain issues had to be dealt with carefully.
"People said very firmly, and it was a clear wish, that they didn't want to talk about politics on stage," said director Helgard Haug.
"We had a lot of candid questions. Questions about the war, of course, and about the possible involvement of NATO in the war. So, we tried to change the questions so that the audience would still understand what was being discussed, but it wouldn't sound so direct," Haug said.
Anna, a Narva resident and actor, explained, that this was because the play was not intended to create further division. "We didn't want to fight among ourselves and we didn't want the audience to be divided," said Anna. "We already have plenty of division. People wanted to feel safe, but still have their say."
At the same time, the participants were happy that they were finally able to speak openly about certain topics. "There are questions that are painful to answer. Some are very personal," said Anna.
While those involved in the production think "100% Narva" should be seen by locals from the city, they also think it would be particularly useful for those from outside Narva to see, in order to better understand what Narva really thinks. Among those in attendance over the weekend were Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) and Reform MEP Urmas Paet.
The "100% City" project by German theater company Rimini Protokoll plans to continue, with future plays following the same format in Salzburg, Budapest and a yet-to-be-named city in California.
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Editor: Michael Cole