Klockriketeatern and Espoo City Theatre’s co-production centres on humankind’s duty in a world premiere that transports us from a distant future to now.
A Short Episode in the Universal History of the Mushroom Civilization is playwright Mikhail Durnenkov, set designer/visual artist Ksenia Peretrukhina, and director/dramaturg Essi Rossi’s stage collaboration. Here, nothing is impossible: the boundaries of reality are in a state of constant, seething flux. Espoo City Theatre and Klockriketeatern’s co-production premieres in Tapiola on January 31, 2023.
An opportunity to examine universal values
Major Russian contemporary playwright Mikhail Durnenkov’s work has been translated to several languages and performed across Europe. In addition to Russia, Durnenkov has worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court in London, and The Lark in New York. In Finland, Durnenkov’s play Sekundaa was performed at Helsinki City Theatre in 2010. In 2019, Klockriketeatern commissioned a work on the future from Durnenkov. In 2020, Espoo City Theatre joined the project, with the world premiere scheduled for 2023.
The original plan included collaborations with Russian theatres but these plans became altered in early 2022. Durnenkov and Peretrukhina – both award-winning, anti-war artists – currently live in exile.
– As an artist, I have lost both the opportunity to work in my mother tongue and the audience I know. For me, this equals a loss of nuance and tenor. Conversely, international collaborations afford an opportunity to examine universal values, which is important, says playwright Durnenkov.
The Finnish co-producers never considered abandoning the project. Our respective theatres shared a view that collaborations will continue with those individual Russian artists whose circumstance in Russia is known to us. Postponing or cancelling the performance was not an option. We have no wish to further punish our colleagues. They have suffered under Putin as is, explain theatre directors Dan Henriksson and Erik Söderblom.
Back from the future to now
The exhilarating and powerfully visual performance creates unexpected connections between beings, phenomena, and events. The work takes us from post-nuclear apocalypse and AI governed emptiness to mushroom civilisation and onto a moment where humans still have a choice about the future. Tales originating in the distant future move closer to the present-day, all the while recounting humankind’s gains and losses.
The future is our responsibility, all hope has not been lost.
– I’m an optimist, despite what’s happened to my family, to my country, and the world. This project gives us an opportunity to orient ourselves to the future, to prepare for it, and to determine which futures we wish to avoid.
– This production is an opportunity to see beyond the horizon, continues Ksenia Peretrukhina.
A Short Episode in the Universal History of the Mushroom Civilization invites the audience to imagine what the future might be. It also entreats us to wonder: is the future already upon us?
The performance is directed by Essi Rossi. Diverse Rossi’s work as director and dramaturg is known for its exacting rhythms and cinematic approach. Sound design is by Pauli Riikonen, costume design by Liisa Pesonen and light design by Ilmari Paananen. On stage are Carl Alm, Antonia Atarah, Elmer Bäck, Milla Kangas, and Kauri Sorvari.
World premiere on January 31, 2023 at 7pm in Espoo City Theatre’s Revontuli Hall (Revontulentie 8). Performances run until February 18.
Performed in Finnish, further languages may be added. Subtitles available in Finnish, in Swedish, and in English via mobile app.