Straw House for Summer in the Capital of Culture
Anna Iltnere 16/05/2011
This summer in Tallinn—the European capital of culture for 2011—the central spot for enjoying some shade will be Straw Theater, a project, art installation, and public space by the Estonian theater group NO99, erected in the Skoone Bastion in a neglected portside neighborhood. It’s already open to visitors.
In the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs,” the straw house is the first building that the wolf blows away. Impermanence is also characteristic of Straw Theater (Põhuteater, in Estonian), which, as soon as summer is over, will become history. “Why temporary? It’s beautiful and poetic to create a huge object that will exist for just five months,” explains the playwright and art historian Eero Epner, who is involved in the project.
Straw Theater was unveiled on April 30 in the center of Tallinn, near the Old City, and will be dismantled after September 30. Though its title may invite ethnographically tinged associations, Straw Theater is a contemporary structure intended for theater productions and sound performances featuring such internationally renowned artists as Nature Theatre of Oklahoma (United States), Sebastian Nübling (Germany), Gob Squad (Great Britain, Germany), Christoph Schlingensief (Germany), Kristian Smeds (Finland), Siren (United States), and others. Performances and concerts will take place on warm summer evenings, while during the day the theater will belong to anyone who wishes to relax, idly read a book, play some Ping-Pong, or romp with their children.
The curators of Straw Theater are the Estonian set designer and artist Ene-Liis Semper and the Estonian director Tiit Ojasoo—the duo of theater directors from NO99 who have been working side by side onstage for eight years. The project is organized by the members of NO99, including Eero Epner, who is responsible for the program of events at Straw Theater. The project is being developed in close collaboration with the organizers of the Tallinn – European Capital of Culture 2010 program, who granted Straw Theater 5 % of the program’s total budget, one of the largest allotments of funding for the Tallinn 2011 events.
I met Eero Epner at the NO99 buffet around lunchtime, when he had freed up some time between theater rehearsals and his duties as editor of the Estonian art publication Estonian Art. “It’s killing me, how little time I have,” said Eero as has searched for a place to charge up his mobile phone.