Russian Engineering Theatre AKHETurku Arts AcademyTIP-Connection; and Turku 2011 Foundation


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Russian Engineering Theatre AKHE: Maxim Isaev, Pavel Semchenko, Yana Tumina, Vadim Gololobov, Andrey Sizintsev

Turku Arts Academy: Anna Ivanova-Brashinskaya (Producer), Jani Pihlajamaa (Executive Producer), Marko Kallela (Technical Manager); Jankke Laaksonen (Pyrotechnics), Ari Ahlholm (Head of the Puppetry specialization)

Students of the Turku Arts Academy:
4th year: Ninni Finnberg; Perrine Ferrafiat; Maëlle Le Gall; Alma Rajala; Vitalija Samuilova;
2nd year: Emma Golnick; Satu Kivistö; Malla Koivula; Tuomas Kotamaa; Mona Krueger; Annikki Levomaa; Liisi Lukkarinen; Anna Nekrassova; Mila Nirhamo; Maippi Nuormaa-Vilen;
Exchange students: Sophie Deslauriers, France; Gil Gandra, Portugal; Sofia Marques, Portugal; Lucyna Sosnowska, Poland;

TIP-Connection: Laura Hallantie; Johanna Kultala; Maija Linturi; Nanna Mäkinen; Paula Vilmi (graduates from the Puppetry Department of the Turku Arts Academy), and Roman Chauzov;

Special thanks to: Marika Leinonen-Vainio, Timo Koljonen, Mervi Kuittinen, Heikki Kustila, Timo Muikku, Kari Packalen, Jere Pensikkala, Esa Pukero, Miika Rautiainen, Carola Rosengren, Maikki Susi, Antti Tahkola, Nella Turkki, Siv Välimäki, and Juha Welling. 

Curious details on the specifics of the process: Talking Hands by Maxim Isaev and trailer by Pavel Semchenko

Pictures on the process by Maxim Isaev you can find here www.flickr.com/photos/akhe/6176041960/



MICHAEL BRASHINSKY currently is working on the documentary film on the contemporary performing art show The Abduction of Europe, realized in September – October 2011 in Turku, as part of the “Turku-2011 – Cultural Capital of Europe” program – a collaboration between the St.Petersburg-based AKHE-Russian Engineering Theatre Сompany, Puppetry Department of the Turku Arts Academy of the Turku University of the Applied Sciences, The Turku International Puppetry Connection (The TIP-Connection) Association, and the Turku-2011 Foundation.

The title of the documentary: AKHE in Europe: An Abduction

The contents of the documentary: The documentary consists of 2 parts: 1) The creative process – the preparation of the show, including rehearsals, costume and set-design try-outs, discussions and some of the most intimate moments of creating art out of scrap, – and 2) the show itself, a grandiose water spectacle staged at the Turku open-air city pool Sampalinna. The show is based on the ancient-Greek mythical story of Zeus turning into a bull to steal the beautiful Europa and involves a large collective of student performers led by the world-renowned duo of Maxim Isaev and Pavel Semchenko, the founders of the St.Petersburg-based AKHE, the Russian Engineering Theater. It also involves very complex and large-scale engineering designs, swimming, acrobatics and circus elements, as well as fireworks and a spectacular soundtrack by the group’s in-house DJ Andrey Sizintsev.

Potential audience: The documentary is aimed at the wide contemporary art-oriented international audience. It reveals the inner sanctum of one of the world-famous, award-winning theatre companies of our times.

What is the material at hand: 30 hours of filmed material for 1,5-hour finished product.

Voices of participants (collected by Anna Ivanova-Brashinskaya):

  • Emma Golnik: When the process started I was sure I would not be able to handle such intensiveness till the end. But time was passing by so quickly as I was aware of learning constantly while doing and not only realizing it afterwards.
  • Anna Nekrasova: I have discovered that all these big mechanisms and objects consist of and depend on very small details. And something going wrong in a construction can destroy all artistic impressions.
  • Tuomas Kotamaa: I guess I have got the concept of the engineering: how to make out of scraps something displayable; how to make mass treasure out of mass trash.
  • Vitalia Samuilova: The process was intensive but not pressuring; it constantly gave a pleasant feeling of contributing to one goal shared by many participants. It happened because of a big trust.
  • Maëlle Le Gall: Being in the “good hands” of AKHE people has been very pleasant, comfortable and crazy enough to think in different scale and to work within a big team. To our surprise, a performance based on a myth can turn out into a very funny show (at least from the performers point of view).
  • Ninni Finberg: After working on this mind-opening, huge-scale project, coming back to chamber theatre space sounds ridiculous. It is quite radical to consider performers not as actors but as “movers“ or “stabilizers” who make huge mechanical miracles happen.
  • Perrine Ferrafiat: The process was very enjoyable and involved mainly intuition: intuition of twenty-four people! It was built on a constant feeling of trust in AKHE people. The most challenging was to discover new acting principles: how to remain natural on stage without being casual.
  • Liisi Lukkarinen: It was really exciting to go to Samppalinnan maauimala and to face the reality of the space after spending weeks in the Arts Academy classrooms, ateliers, and in Varvintori (where part of the rehearsals were held).
  • Maija Linturi: I enjoyed a lot observing AKHE’s brains working: their journey from one stage of the process to the next one; their flexibility in their own thinking; their ability to radically change ideas even in the late stages. The introducing workshop with Yana Tumina surprised me with a real theory behind all these methods.
  • Roman Chauzov: It has been a perilous time, a constant anxiety: it seems that you do not know how to make anything, then you make something that you never did before and you succeed.
  • Laura Hallantie: We were searching for practical solutions and precise constructions of crazy ideas without going ahead, being only here and now.
  • Alma Rajala: The process, with rapid pulse, inspired us to be brave in sharing our own ideas – even stupid and wrong ones. Overall it was a very artistically inspiring experience.
  • Nanna Mäkinen: Dealing with weird ideas without having a chance to try them out in real space; working outside in whatever weather and so trying out your own physical and emotional limits.
  • Lucyna Sosnowska: Within such a big group there was not even the slightest idea of competition and not any complains on being put regularly under pouring rain!
  • Mila Nirhamo: The value of the introducing workshop was really understood and kept on growing when the process of making the show began. Amazing “team will” to succeed.
  • Gil Gandra: Through the whole process we always expected that something good and big would come out of it. It is not scary to be on stage because it is not acting but just executing concrete actions.
  • Maippi Nuormaa-Vilen: Building sessions reminded laboratory experiments. I had the feeling that if it will not work, still it will look great.
  • Paula Vilmi: The feeling that you are involved in an absolutely unique huge intercultural project made every day of the process important and special.
  • Levomaa Annikki: There are so many small things left behind that could have been developed!
  • Koivula Malla: AKHE people were really open to all of our ideas. We all feel that the show is built TOGETHER.
  • Kivistö Satu: To make such a big project is only possible within the playful atmosphere of AKHE: gravity would kill it.
  • Mona Krueger: The project was made in a laid-back atmosphere with safe and supportive surroundings for stupidity. This made all the impossible things possible.
  • Marques Sofia: I like very much illogical things, but in order to work, they have to be very logically planned. These AKHE guys are not just freaks, they know a lot about this.
  • Sophie Deslauriers: I had a feeling that this style of working on making spontaneous, not strictly-fixed-during-rehearsals theatre could exist. And now I’ve got a confirmation: it does exist.
  • Johanna Kultala: It has been a mind-exploding experience that leaded me to reconsider my own concept of theatre and to pay more attention to the approaches of street theatre.

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