TINFO News –Theatre and Ecology

The 2000s have been characterised as the environmental millennium and the era of eco-criticism, and the performing arts in Finland mirror this shift in ecological awareness. The works of numerous Finnish artists reflect on the relationship between the arts and the environment. The non-human context and environmental awareness have emerged alongside human- and society-centredness. Nature sparks the interest of artists, and the environmental meanings of works and actions are present – not as the mainstream, of course, but as a critical attitude comparable to contemporary art: artists want to examine the terms of their own activities from an ecological viewpoint, and to make room for diverse encounters between the human and the non-human. Numerous works are negotiations of the boundaries between nature and culture and the relationships between the human and the non-human.

Issues that make the ecological perspective particularly timely include environmental problems at the Talvivaara mines, which recently began operations in Finland; the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe; and climate change. The topicality of ecology in the theatres is demonstrated by the fact that, during the past year and a half, three different dramatisations of Risto Isomäki’s ecological thriller The Sands of Sarasvati have been created. Practitioners of theatre have also come together to discuss the relationship between theatre and nature; de-growth and theatre is one theme. Artists find it important to discover ways of making the state of nature concrete through dramatic means and to transform our paralysing awareness of the destruction of nature not only into action but also into theatre and performance.

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