The two year Interreg Central Baltic project Theatre Expanded implemented by the Performing Arts Centre Vaba Lava (Open Space) in Estonia and the New Theatre Instiute of Latvia tackled the problems both Estonian and Latvian performing artists are grappling with. Lack of adequate social guarantees and inability to earn a regular income is a common problem for both countries. Many of the freelancers are working from project to project. Often freelance artists complain about low job satisfction and they feel that their skills and creative potentisal could be put to a better use. The project Theatre Expanded aimed both at improving freelance performing artists and producers skills of managing their productions as well as widening their horizons learning innovative approaches for cross-sectoral cooperation.
1st year of the project: Producer Training Course
The first year of the project was devoted to training freelance theatre producers both in Estonia and Latvia. In Estonia, the producer trining course consisted of montly lectures aimed at a wider audience covering all the relevant aspects of producing international and local coproductions and hands-on practicals at Vaba Lava. All in all 31 lectures were given both by local and international theatre experts.
The broader topics of the lectures were
- Producing international coproductions;
- Producing in local productions in Estonia;
- Process management and teamwork;
- Light, video and sound equipment, set design;
- Marketing, audience development;
- Social media, royalties and contracts;
- Theatre export, international festivals and showcases.
Practical trainings at Vaba Lava
16 trainees were selected from applications submitted to the Open Call. Their task was along with the Vaba Lava team to bring out three international coproductions, which belonged to the Vaba Lava international curated programme of the 2016/2017 season.
- The Common People. Tallinn Draft directed by Jan Martens and Lukas Dhont, premier on 18.03.2016; The Common People. Tallinn Draft
- Verein zur Aufhebung des Notwendigen or One Hundred Wars to World Peace directed by Christophe Meyerhans, premier on 17.04.2016; One Hundred Wars to World Peace
- Sculpting Fear directed by Julian Hetzel, premier on 13.05.2016; Scultping Fear
2nd year of the project: Artistic Intervention with Organisations (AI)
The second year of the Interrreg Centralbaltic project Theatre Expanded conducted by Vaba Lava and the New Theatre Institute of Latvia was dedicated to Artistic Intervention with Organization, the concept of which is based on the idea that on the one hand artists have skills to foster innovation in other fields and on the other hand, knowledge from different fields can enrich artistic means of expression, creation of content, opening space for fresh ways of thinking and acting.
Five people who had participated in the first year of the project Theatre Expanded dedicated to producer training, consequently, formed a production unit called Vaba Vorm (Flexible Form). Vaba Vorm created a platform for the freelance performative artists who were interested in interacting with other sectors and enriching organizational culture in different fields. Their aim was to arrange Creative Fridays to bring organisations out of their traditional office environment and break an 8 hour office routine once a week. Consequently, from September 2016 to May 2017, 7 showings of short forms organized by the Vaba Vorm took place at Vaba Lava.
Throughout the second year Vaba Vorm participated in a variety of activities (lectures and workshops) at Vaba Lava. Vaba Vorm made a study trip to Finland, Helsinki on 15-17 March 2017 together with participants from the training course of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia. The aim of the trip was to get first-hand information from practitioners and academics specializing in artistic intervention with organisations in Helsinki (Finland). In May 2017, 2 people from Vaba Vorm made a second study trip to Finland to be mentored on the action plan by international expert Kai Lehikoinen.
Vaba Vorm received a grant from Nordic Council of Ministers to visit Tampere Theatre Festival. Writing a grant application was one of the study tasks of the producer training course. The production Unit Vaba Vorm visited in August 2016 the Tampere Theatre Festival to find contacts and bring a guest performance Transformers by Teemu Mäki to Estonia, which would be a good example of artistic intervention between performing arts and social sphere. Transgender people in Finland had invited the theatre director and artist Teemu Mäki to direct a performance of documentary theatre based on group work to make a larger audience aware of their problematics. Vaba Vorm invited the performance to Vaba Lava in Tallinn and Estonian National Museum in Tartu, where it was followed by a public debate to raise awareness about the issues related to the transgender people. (The guest performances took place in in Tallinn and Tartu in September 2017).
In addition, throughout the year, several lectures and workshops on artistic intervention with organisations were organized for freelance performative artists both from Estonia and Latvia such as an open lecture by Christiane Kühl (Germany) and Chris Kondek (USA, Germany), a series of workshops by the same artists (an Open Call was announced to find participants for the workshops) and an open lecture and workshop by Kai Lehikoninen (Finland) aimed at a wider audience. Performance „Distinguishing Marks“ by Chris Kondek and Christiane Kühl brought together the performing arts and innovative IT solutions as a result of artistic intervention. Premier was on 22 May 2017 at Vaba Lava.
On 22-23 May 2017, the project Theatre Expanded culminated with the two-day International Conference The Future of the Performing Arts: Theatre Expanded.
The project coordinators for Vaba Lava were the Managing Director of Vaba Lava Kristiina Reidolv, the International Projects Manager Inga Koppel and the lecturer of creative industries Külli Hansen from the Estonian Business School. Latvian project coordinators were the Director of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia Gundega Laivina and project managers from the same institution, Zane Kreicberga and Laura Stašān.
The programme of New Theatre Institute of Latvia:
Survey Artistic Interventions Projects – Definition, Background and Suggestions for Implementation
Project Theatre Expanded is supported by Interreg Central Baltic programme 2014-2020.