It does not matter where we are, on a big stage, on the street or in a forest for example. In the end, production values mean very little to me. Before I start any production, I always ask myself these questions, again and again: "to who? / where? / why? / why now?"
I've studied film before falling in love with the performing arts. If there is something I have learned from working with a camera and mic it's the core difference between an authentic real-time moment and a recording. During my lifetime, screens have invaded almost every possible space in the society I live in. First, it was speakers and music, then came screens and moving images. Performing arts, theater, live art, live music are all things that give us "something else".
I don't acknowledge borders between performing arts. For me, it's all about that passing moment of "now" that we spend together. Then again, I have great respect for skill and training and deep love for dramaturgy. It is inspiring to see the technical dedication of dancers, puppeteers, circus artists, actors, you name it. Yet still, I think we need to be free from all that when the time comes. One can not be free just like that. We can only be free from something. I believe you need to train your craft endlessly, no matter what it is. In the end, you need to train just to be able to let it all go.
I led a professional stage ensemble from 2007 - 2022. In it, I've had total creative freedom and this may sound bold but I truly feel like I've done everything I wanted as a director. I still have my directing ideas but my own artistic visions don't haunt me anymore. I believe that is why I enjoy collaboration above all nowadays. I have no need to push my thoughts and I love searching and finding things together with others. I don't see any subject I could not touch on stage, though the older I get the less I'm interested in the evil in humanity. For me, on stage nothing is holy and everything is possible.
Lately, the most interesting thing for me has been and is: what really happens between people, between objects and people, between sound and people, between light and people, between spaces and people and so on. You never know it before you try. Endless exploration and organizing the findings feel like travelling through an ocean or a vast forest.
I studied filmmaking during the turning of millennia. Already entering film school I had fallen in love with the stage, with theater. I was never an amateur theater maker. My first stage job was at an international theater festival as a production assistant. I saw many interesting theater pieces from inside and that left a mark on me.
After graduating from film school I mostly worked as an editing and screenwriting teacher but also founded a theater company: Grus Grus Teatteri. A great influence for me was working in Compagnie Scènes, a French artistic ensemble based in Lyon. They combine theater, performance, and film. They gave me more courage to follow my own path.
I managed to create right from the start to my surprise, a hit performance "Hugo Simbergin siivet" that toured Finland and elsewhere for six years. The performance combined film, animation, acting, musical theater, and contemporary dance with original writing and story structure. I have continued multidisciplinary work ever since.
In the coming years after founding Grus Grus Teatteri, I felt free. Maybe since I didn't have a theater education I had no shame in trying things out on stage. And experiment I did. Mostly my experiments were successful and sometimes not, the main point is that I was able to drop the media teacher's job and became a full-time theater professional. On the side, quite naturally Grus Grus Teatteri grew into a multidisciplinary group. It now consists of artists from different fields.
In 2016 I directed an immersive site-specific performance based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Something strange happened then. That project somehow emptied me. I no longer needed to prove anything to myself. Before that, I was a kind of obsessive about my projects. Somehow my work turned into a possibility from an obsession. Hard to put into words, but that feeling has stayed with me ever since.
I do still direct, but working as a dramaturg has become much more important for me. I don't need to push my ideas. I'm more interested in collaboration, processes, and searching together. The happiest moments during the last few years have been standing by artists whose work have started to flourish. When I was younger there was always a bit of jealousy in the mix, but now I'm able to enjoy full-heartedly other peoples' success.
I often think about this phrase: "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant an apple tree.". I take this thought seriously and I guess that is the only thing I do take seriously in the end.