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Fri 15 March 2024 15.00-18.00 (UTC+2)
& Espoo Theatre/ The International Theatre of Finland
Revontulentie 8, Espoo, Finland

Cold winds are blowing across Europe, and across the world. Over the last five years, we have witnessed right-wing populist parties and coalitions gaining more visibility, and more power. This has led to a shift across the entire political landscape. Not unrelated to this shift, calling to mind bleeding wounds that do not heal, we have become spectators to merciless wars where crushing civilian life seems to have become the leading strategy. At the same time, and including the so-called free Western societies, we see an increased tendency among politicians and officials to intervene with content, even the definition, of art.

The state of play cries out for theatre makers to take a stand. But we stay strangely silent. Why? The reasons for this reticence are not uniform but vary from country to country.

We have summoned theatre makers from different parts of Europe to come together to share their views on this topic. The seminar - a part of &FEST – FOCUS GENT - aims to shed light on the very complex situation we face today.

The event is organized by & Espoo Theatre and the Nordic Theatre network Yggdrasil.

The seminar will be streamed.


15.00 Welcome

Keynote - Kristof Blom, artistic director, Campo ‭‬‬‬‬
Outcry - Anonymous / Moscow (read by Pavel Semchenko)
Keynote - Lotta Lekvall, CEO, VD Folkteatern Göteborg
Outcry - Gosia Wdowik, theatre maker, Poland (read by Katri Kekäläinen)

16.15 Q & A, discussion

16.30 Coffee break

16.50 Panel discussion moderated by Erik Söderblom with
Otso Kautto, director and writer
Susanna Kuparinen, director and journalist
Salla Nazarenko, journalist, international affairs´specialist
Susanna Tommila, cultural director in the city of Espoo

17.35 Q & A, discussion

We welcome all the participants to purchase tickets and join us after seminar to the performance of the evening and later on our &FEST - FOCUS GENT festival party at the same location.

Cuckoo by Jaha Koo 19.00 - info & tickets

Yggdrasil Nordic Theatre Network

is a collaboration forum consisting of some of the Nordic countries top theatre companies, institutions, festivals and independent artists. The network unites development-orientated organizations and institutions with the same strategic goals and ambitions. The networks mission is to function as a research and development department for innovation within the Nordic performing art, and the Nordic audiences of tomorrow. Project coordinator: Johanna Welander,


Kristof Blom studied performing arts at the University of Gent, Belgium. He worked until 2001 as a free-lance dramaturge for different companies and artists such as Toneelhuis Antwerpen, Victoria, Het Paleis, … . In the period 2001 – 2007 he was in charge of international relations for the production house Victoria. In 2008 he joined the start of CAMPO, a new arts centre in Gent that combines a presentation, research and production platform. In 2011 he became artistic director of CAMPO.


Pavel is one of the founders of the engineering theater AKHE (St. Petersburg), visual artist, director, actor, set and graphic designer since 1989. In the theater, he develops a special non-verbal way of artistic expression, working with objects, structures, puppets, costumes and other engineering elements of scenery. The basic elements of fire, water, earth and air are the basis for the transformation and development of images. The elements of the game are not the imitation of emotions, but the creation of special situations and physical conditions for their natural occurrence. Atmosphere and visual poetry is the main goal of artistic studies on stage and in the field of painting and graphics. A special attitude to the playing space as a character. Resonating with his own imagination, the viewer of Pavel's creative acts is a co-author.
The AKHE Theater has performed at many theater festivals and venues around the world.

Due to political events in Russia and categorical rejection of military actions and the course of the Russian government,
with help from the ArtistAtRisk Foundation, left the country in March 22. At the moment collaborating with two ongoing productions as a lighting/sound/video/props technician, conducting an “NEUVOSTOIHMISEN LOPPU” performance in the company Helsinki98 and “BUENOS AIRESISTA BERLIINIIN” in the company Greta Tuotanto as a videographer.


Lotta Lekvall is CEO at Folkteatern, one of the big theatres in Göteborg, Sweden, since 2015. Lekvall has attended the Executive Diploma in Organisational Leadership, Oxford University, in 2023 and was nominated the twenty-fifth (out of a hundred) most influencial person in the city of Göteborg by the daily Göteborgs-Posten in 2023 for saving the theatre from eviction from the localities in the centre of the city.
She has worked with art and culture most of her life. She worked for many years as Director of Nätverkstan, an independent cultural and civil society organization that provides services and projects within the independent cultural field. She has been in the board of The Royal Opera House in Stockholm, The Arts Grant Committee in Sweden, The Council of Cultural and Creative Industries, Encatc to name a few. She has been co-author of several reports and books, and performed studies of for example Wermland Opera House and Gävle Concert Hall, as well as worked with several projects and advisory roles in cultural and creative industries in Sweden. She has long experience of artist exchanges as well as training around Europe as well as building long-term networks, exchanges, and training with colleagues in for example Bangalore in India, Belgrade in Serbia, East-Africa and Georgia.


Gosia Wdowik is a theatre maker and active member of GILDIA, The Union of Polish Theatre Makers. Her heart is based in Poland, but her imagination is always somewhere else. During her Master Studies at DAS Theatre (2020-2022), she worked with the topic of burnout and explored the space between exhaustion and agency by implementing methods from activism into her artistic practice. Her main question was: how to create both theatre and change from a place of exhaustion? In her recent performance Shame (NOWY TEATR, Warsaw) she explored social shame connected with the working-class origins in her own family, over three generations of women. Past works of Wdowik include If you lived here with Tamara Antonijevic (Mousonturm, Frankfurt,) Transit Monumental together with K.A.U. kollective (Spielart Festival, Munich), Fiasko(Staatstheater, Darmstadt) and Return of Goddess (Sophiensaele, Berlin). With Girls (Theater Studio, Warsaw) and Football players (TR Warsaw) she tackles the topic of bodily emancipation. In May 2023, her graduation work (DAS Theatre) She was a friend of someone else premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels.

Photo: Eva Roefs


Otso Kautto has directed nearly 100 performances, written several plays, one novel, translated plays into Finnish, and managed three theaters. His texts have been translated into ten different languages, and his works have been seen in about 15 different countries. At the moment, Kautto is finishing his doctoral dissertation on the sense of ritual at the University of the Arts Helsinki.


Susanna Kuparinen is a director, screenwriter and journalist from Helsinki, who has made seven documentary theater performances. Her Eduskunta-trilogy was an audience and review success at Ryhmäteatteri, Helsinki. Prima Facie is the first performance based on play that Kuparinen has directed in fifteen years, and it is her second work at the Finnish National Theater after Sokea piste (2021). In 2013, she and her work group received Lumilapio award for their work with the performance Parliament II. Susanna Kuparinen has also been awarded with the Finland Award in 2014.

Photo: Sanna Breilin / Finnish National Theatre


Dr Salla Nazarenko works as the international affairs’ specialist at the Union of Journalists in Finland. She is a journalist and writer with over twenty years’ experience in working with issues of freedom
of speech and expression, anti-corruption and transparency and openness in society both in Finland and abroad. At the Union, she is responsible for media policy, journalistic ethics and international affairs.


Susanna Tommila is the Cultural Director in the City of Espoo. Susanna has been working in the public administration for different employers for more than 20 years. Her special competence and interests are in strategic development and leadership. She holds cultural policy and cultural strategies in the core of her work, with a special focus on diversity, collaboration, and sustainability. She also has a strong belief in the European community and in the collaboration between cities. Susanna Tommila has a Master of Arts degree, and she is an eMBA graduate since 2019. She likes to interact with people and her skills in network leadership is in good use both in the political world and in creating new partnerships. Susanna says that for her, art and culture is a way of living, and at the same time she keeps up her condition by hard physical training.