&& Espoo Theatre is a theatre but is has also evolved into something beyond that. It has grown into a platform for new ways of thinking and become a vibrant meeting place for people, ideas, and societal and artistic influences. We continuously evolve our operations and engage in international projects in support of live performing arts and communities.
Love Simulation EVE and VR Theatre on Tour
he love simulation EVE is the world's first work that combines live actor performances and a VR world multiplayer environment. In a project made possible by the NextGenerationEU support from the Ministry of Education and Culture, a virtual reality performance has been created, with location-based segments being developed to suit content distribution. Tour performances with production models that best serve them are being created, and the technical requirements for bringing the VR experience to various locations are being explored. Developing a digital distribution model provides the opportunity to showcase VR works in other venues.
Virtual reality is an evolving form of media that combines cinematic storytelling, immersive world-building, and gamified interaction to create novel embodied experiences. The goal of this pioneering project is to map out a model for bringing high-quality performative VR art content into theatrical environments.
For three decades, the idea of a new theatre building in Espoo has been taking shape. In this decade, that idea has taken a stride forward as the project plan for the new theatre house was approved by the Espoo City Council on November 21, 2022.
Our vision for 2027: Espoo Theatre, known as &&, has just unveiled its new stage next to the Espoo Cultural Centre. It has become a theatre that garners recognition and curiosity not only within Espoo, but also in Finland and on the international stage. With the advent of the new theatre building, Tapiola has emerged as a unique pioneer in the realm of performing arts across the entire country.
The new theatre rises alongside the existing Cultural Centre on Tapiola's Culture Square. This new venue offers a high international standard for performing arts, allowing for even more exceptional visiting performances to be brought to Finland. With the new theatre, the center of Tapiola transforms into a captivating cultural hub, inviting everyone to experience art up close and from afar. The new cultural hub – comprising &&, Espoo Cultural Centre, Culture Square, and the nearby EMMA museum – is a tremendous opportunity for Espoo.
"Espoo is a rapidly evolving city, and cultural spaces must evolve with its growth. It is crucial that Espoo Theatre finally gets the appropriate facilities." Susanna Tommila, Cultural Director of Espoo City.
The architectural design of the theatre is entrusted to ALA Architects, led by Chief Architect SAFA Juho Grönholm. ALA Architects are also behind Helsinki's latest landmark, the Oodi library. According to the current plans, the doors of the theatre will open to the public in 2027.
"Building a new theatre offers a brand-new opportunity for its operations. Now, it's finally the theatre's turn. Studies show that cultural investments in cities yield manifold returns. Every theatre-goer also spends a considerable amount on other regional services, such as restaurants and accommodations. Developing the Cultural Centre, the theatre, Culture Square, and its surroundings will enhance Espoo's appeal as a cultural city." Paula Viljakainen, Espoo City Councillor and Chair of the Board of Directors of Espoo City Theatre Foundation.
Perspective: Theatre is vitality
Espoo is destined to be an even stronger home for its diverse residents and a globally unique hub of innovation in the future. The future cultural center and its theatre play a significant role, in my point of view, as builders of community and sustainability. Espoo's aim is to be a leading city of enlightenment, which means that culture is deeply embedded in the everyday lives of Espoo residents.
Innovations and vitality revolve around radical, interdisciplinary creativity and collective efforts. The international guest theatre concept works exceptionally well and, to me, showcases the best of Espoo's mindset. Together, cultural institutions in the Tapiola area – Espoo Theatre, WeeGee, EMMA, and the Cultural Center along with other contributors – carry out important work for the betterment of Espoo and its residents.
The new Espoo Theatre, located within Espoo Cultural Center, becomes a part of Tapiola's national landscape and the city of gardens' intellectual heritage. In May 2023, Tapiola was awarded the national City Center of the Year accolade. I am delighted that after years of development, we have received confirmation that Tapiola remains an attractive and functional city center. The charming and vibrant Kulttuuriaukio (Culture Square) breathes new life into the heart of Tapiola even more.
I wish Espoo Theatre a future that is appealing both in content and operation!
Mayor of Espoo
The Centriphery project was collaboratively produced by nine European cultural organizations between 2019 and 2023. Within the framework of the EU's Creative Europe program, the project aimed to facilitate collaboration between European artists and ordinary citizens in towns situated in peripheral areas.
The Creative Europe project in nine countries
&& Espoo Theatre was involved in a collaborative project with nine European cross-disciplinary cultural organizations from 2019 to 2023. The four-year Centriphery project's partner organizations include theaters and festivals from across Europe, and it received support from the European Commission.
The goal of this participatory artistic project was to facilitate collaboration between European artists and ordinary citizens in towns situated in peripheral areas. The project also included cities and neighborhoods facing challenging socio-economic conditions. The project brought together cultural actors within the European Union situated on the outskirts of cities or regions. Within the project, residencies were established with a focus on oral knowledge transmission in these areas.
The project's program included artistic residencies, art workshops for the local population, as well as the creation and performance of artworks. & collaborated with partners such as the Festival of Regions (Austria), New Culture Foundation (Bulgaria), Dansehallerne – Choreographic Center (Denmark), La Manufacture (France), Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture (Croatia), Cultura Nova Festival (Netherlands), Walk & Talk Festival (Azores, Portugal), and Prin Banat in collaboration with Timisoara 2021 – European Capital of Culture (Romania).
"Every periphery is its own center. Centriphery gives a crucial voice to the inhabitants of these so-called 'borderlands' in transforming local myths and empowers them to participate in creating local identities and European narratives."
The artistic team of the project includee actor Matija Kezele from Croatia and musician-poet Fred Nevche from France. From Finland, internationally recognized artists in participatory art projects Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen were involved, along with dramaturge-director Anna-Mari Karvonen. Karvonen took on the role of artistic director at Teatteri Takomo in 2022. The diverse backgrounds of these artists provided a rich foundation for exploring the project's themes.