I can detect the common denominator in Eva Neklyaeva’s selection for the 2013 edition of Baltic Circle: that mankind should agree to work together. This receives a consenting nod from almost everyone, but yet we remain passive; how to nudge ourselves into taking the first step toward hands-on activity? By taking a practice run in the theatre, of course! The issue has become increasingly important as xenophobia keeps gathering force in the host country of the festival, Finland.
Therefore, it is a good experience for us, when performances randomly divide their audiences into small groups, which are asked to negotiate a joint view on a given task. Some performances do not lean all that heavily on audience participation, but even then tasks in similar spirit are being addressed on stage. We Finns love an international atmosphere, i.e. speaking English amongst ourselves with the odd foreigner there to justify the choice of language. In the context of the Baltic Circle it is no effort at all to trust one’s neighbour, but as I understand it, the festival programme suggests that a theatre experience can help transfer the pleasure of international co-operation into an everyday habit.
Had the performances been convincing, we would now practice all-encompassing solidarity. But as it is, the shows lacked artistic, philosophical and political merit to such an extent that we only enjoyed brief moments of togetherness. Nothing is perceived as more of a virtue in Finland than togetherness, which means an action generated and performed within the boundaries of virtual reality. That is where the Baltic Circle ended up, establishing solidarity in thin air.