Espoo Artist of the Year 2022 brings theatre to the audience

Published: 26.7.2022 6.36Updated: 28.7.2022 7.17
Timo Torikka playing a scene of the Lehman Brothers play.
Photo: Alisa Javitz

The recipient of the 2022 working grant, the actor Timo Torikka, has spent the year focused on performances outside the theatre houses with audience participation.

Together with a working group, Timo Torikka made a version for students of the Lehman Brothers play. The play was shortened from 3.5 hours to one hour, and the audience got to participate. The version was performed to Omnia and Live Vocational College students in the spring.

“We had a scene where the Lehman Brothers’ Board of Directors meets, and we arranged the whole class group as a Board of Directors. Each student was a member of the Board, and together they had to make decisions about the fate of Lehman Brothers. There were great moments when they tried to decide the best solution for the economy, the company and people,” Torikka describes.

After the performance, there was a discussion with the students about what they had just heard and seen. Torikka says he crossed a professional threshold when stepping outside the theatre. 

“It was exciting to go to an educational institution. I have performed on stage in theatres, and contact with the audience is quite different outside the safe theatre environment. There was something special about crossing the frightening threshold and the reception and contact with people there,” Torikka says.

During the summer, Torikka has been working on a translation of Returning to Reims by the author Didier Eribon. Torikka finds a connection between the book and Espoo residents.

“The book deals with a split habitus, habitus referring to the attitudes we learn in the childhood home. In Espoo, most people come from somewhere else, and most Espoo residents have a split habitus as to where they come from and where they live now,” Torikka explains.

When the translation is finished, it will be brought to the stage in Espoo.

Torikka is also set to produce a “living audiobook” sometime this year. It is a monologue about acting in roles we take on in our lives. The audiobook is planned to be performed in Espoo libraries at the end of the year. Bringing the performance to the library lowers the threshold to participate.

“Many people in Espoo find it difficult to go to the various cultural centres, theatres or concert halls. The idea is to bring the performance close to the people in the library. The performance does not have any lighting or sound props; it is based on the experience between the performer and audience,” Torikka explains.

Torikka says the grant has provided him with an opportunity for new experiments like participatory performances and time to reflect on his professional image.

The working grant for professional artists is intended for professional artists in Espoo irrespective of the art form, and it will be awarded to one artist for one year at a time. The application for the working grant for professional artists for 2023 will close on 30 September 2022.