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Estonia » Section of Countries and Regions

Curator:Eero Epner
Institution:Theatre NO99

Unified Estonia

Contemporary political theatre is a common thing. It asks dangerous questions, goes directly to the audience, provokes, etc. But it still remains theatre. Everything happens in a black box. There are the spectators and there are the performers. And somewhere there is also politics. Sometimes the performers go outside and perform in old factories or on the streets. But it is still “theatre”.

The project Unified Estonia is unique in terms of its approach to actual political issues since it was never treated only as theatre. It was treated as a real political force. The boundaries between reality and fiction were blurred when theatre started copying all the mechanisms used by real politicians. For two months all of Estonia was convinced that Theatre NO99 was about to assume power. Polls said that the new party created by this theatre company would take 25% of the votes if they were to run in the parliamentary elections. But Theatre NO99 never did.

Unified Estonia was a fictitious political movement created by Theatre NO99 (Tallinn, Estonia). It lasted 44 days, during which various political techniques were introduced. The theatre used all forms of political manipulation in order to create a new reality: larger than life promises, political ads on the streets and on TV, viral video lectures about politics, provocation, interviews on TV and radio shows etc. Theatre was everywhere in the media, using the media at the same time for its own purposes. The boundary between reality and fiction was crossed and what used to be theatre was now pure politics, taken for real by the mass media and citizens alike. Theatre was no longer in its usual “space”, but captured completely new spaces – streets, newspaper headlines, TV studios and the lobby of Parliament. Theatre was no longer merely performing. It was real now. The press was eager to print everything they did or said. Everybody was anxious: will they really create a new political party –despite the fact that on day one, NO99 openly declared that this is a theatre performance. The project culminated with the convention of the Unified Estonia movement on May 7th 2010 attracting more than 7,000 viewers. It was one of the largest theatre events in contemporary Europe.

The project Unified Estonia takes theatre to the streets, media and politics. The political issues that NO99 dealt with five years ago are neither local nor temporary. They are still there and even more so. The decline of democracy and the rise of populism can be seen throughout Europe. Unified Estonia was a one-off project. But it can also be repeated today. And it will be repeated. In the summer of 2015 in Prague. Stay tuned.

Unified Estonia, Theatre NO99, Prague, 2015, director: Ene-Liis Semper, Tiit Ojasoo (March-May 2010, Tallinn)

Exhibiting artists / ateliers

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  • Ene-Liis Semper
cz / en