The reason we went to Finland is because of our involvement in a new Europe wide theatre initiative called Y.E.S. (Youngsters On The European Stage) which matches a young developing company in a rural area with a more experienced mentor company. In this case, Spark Productions from Graiguenamanagh are the young pups and we’re the mentors. After a couple of years getting the benefit of mentorship from Fishamble, Barnstorm Theatre Company, The Corn Exchange and Artlinks, we’re in the position for the first time where we’re the mentors. Which is slightly strange and means that we need to act responsible and all whack shit like that. But seriously, it’s a great honour to take part in the inaugural programme and we’re delighted to be involved with so many theatre makers from all over Europe. We’re going to be representing Ireland on the programme. It’s still in its infancy but so far Finland, Italy and Hungary are signed up. It will see Spark Productions work with us over the next year and all roads leads towards a new devised piece of theatre which will be performed at the Rammpikuume festival next year. It’s a festival celebrating original theatre made by young companies and performers from all over Finland and Europe and next summer, Spark Productions will be joining them for a collaborative piece that will be made over the next 10 months by the member countries. The next stage of the initiative should see that performance playing in a number of other European countries with an Irish run scheduled for next summer.
We just spent 4 days in Finland with the Irish contingent being John Morton of this parish, Adrian Kavanagh of Spark Productions and Alison Allan of Leader who are supporting the project with their European counterparts. It also proved a handy opportunity to bring our Theatre Forum Ireland bag (see above, with reindeer). Blessed with a heatwave just as good as the one here, we travelled around Kaankanpaa (a beautiful small town of about 12,000) where the festival will be held next year and talking to the organising team. We had some very productive meetings and it was great to see the plans for the theatre that is currently being built in advance of next years festival. We got to partake in Finnish cuisine, saw a lot of reindeer, got eaten alive by midges, experienced Finnish karaoke and took a big city trip to Tampere. It was a fun, productive and eventful trip and one which has us very excited to return next year!
It’s a great opportunity for Spark Productions, ourselves and of course, it gets us out of the house for a bit. We’re looking forward to watching the project develop over the course of 2013 and 2014 and we can’t wait to see how the work develops with our European brethren over the course of the next few months. YES!