STUDENT THEATRE AS REBELLION

State theatre, which is very well funded and oriented to selfshow, success and competition, is a prostitute. She must sell her production in any case, must be eatable, coloUrful, oriented to customers – but as we know, usally customers' taste is already poisoned by TV, movies and internet – and after that we can only imagine what kind of things such theatre produces. This kind of theatre is becoming a big supermarket – where you can find all kind of shit for nothing. And at the same time, complicated themes and authors can be made eatable. It's a shame that good actors rot in a sauce like that, and good directors are kept in grip by corrupted theatre directorate and sponsors.

WE NEED NEW THEATRE!!! THEATRE MUST BECOME ALIVE AGAIN!

My speech (or perfomance, if you like) is non-academic, rather the manifesto about ideal theatre. In my opinion student theatre is the metaphor of it, the rebellion against the stagnant, sell-out ordinary state theatre.

My report consists of two parts: first part is dedicated to the alive theatre (we can't say Living Theatre) – what I think about it; and in the second part four students from Tartu Student Theatre talk about their experience in our theatre.

FIRST PART

If we leave apart the political aspect of the event, we can just watch it as an cultural act, as theatre in theatre, as a surrealistic act – the act where Tshetshen warriors broke off the popular musical „Nord-Ost”. To stop a commercial/bourgeois thing nowadays... I think a bomb is a serious argument. In recent years I have felt that sometimes we must act the same way (of course, a bomb is too much, it is used here in a metaphoric sense) – enough of cheating us, the audience, of manipulating with us, the audience, of wasting our, audience's time and money. We must react and immediately!

Alive theatre means spirited actors, living ideas, inner enthusiasm. It's important that first comes the idea (what and what for) and only after that comes asking for money to realize the project. Money is important to handle of course, but never to overstrain with it, not to eclipse the creation aims. Alive theatre – it doesn't need an italian type of stage or expensive decoration – good theatre plays in an apartment, in a woodshed, in a garage, in an hangare or on the street or market place. The room which exists already is a decoration itself.

Madness! Madness! Madness! To risk being a lunatic and despise the authorities, in the real or in the theoretical theatre world. It's not possible to make alive theatre from theoretical books! There is no fresh grass growing in old ways. Be yourself spitting on everything – money, career, personal life – be free at last! I would like to cite lyrics by Victor Tsoi, the leader of Russian rock group Kino: „I would like to stay with you, but the star invites me to the road, my blood group is different, my blood invites me...”. Even if sometimes this seems like a battle with windmills, believe me, only this way you are cheating nobody - and if you are honest to your audience, they will follow you to your world.

It is possible to produce, to stage, only when you feel real mental power, if you can't do otherwise, if the world needs your perfomance, if you are sure that world becomes better after your performance. Small theatre, a student theatre must take risks, must choose young unknown authors, must experiment with new forms. In this world of ours which is mainly oriented to entertainment we must not be afraid of darkness or pessimism, if our material insists this. IN ALIVE THEATER EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE – YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING! Also, so-called well-known authors, can be staged in your own way, in your own style, originally.

Alive Theatre is focused on the actor. Themes, texts, what the director chooses (or what actors will find together) must allow the development of actors, it must inspire or irritate them. Material which is in work must be so troublesome that it's not possible for an actor not to keep him/herself in training – to train his/her voice, body and mind. How sad it is to look at so-called stars, who are lazy and fat, who are on the stage, just sitting and saying something with malformed voice. Thank god that in our university theatre system we have no stars! Our official theatre schools in Estonia are quite limited and narrow-minded. All our teachers studied Stanislavsky system, some directors (who studied somewhere out of the system) know Kantor, Grotowski, Artaud and have experimented with them in our theatre system, but without actors, audience doesn't follow these experiments very well.

Imagine! Young actor who graduates a theatre school and starts to work, stops his/her evolution at the same time! He/she becomes a lineman, starts to flirt with audience, with directors, becomes a liar and pretender, and his/her only aim is to get his/her monthly salary. A dead actor!

In student theatre it's very important to develop actors technique, but more important, I think, is to develop and keep student-actors spirituality, their open mind, their passion to make theatre. University theatres must rise with their example a rebbelion against dead theatre which, I would like to underline, commercial theatres are.

Bring back Theatre to the theatre! Bring back theatre language, bring more visulization, more imagery in theatre! Theatre needs to approach more physically, also to approach physically to text. I know A.Vassiljev, the director from Moscow is doing it in his theatre. Let the cinema have its own utilities, opera its own, and musical its own – in theatre we have a possibility to use their tools, but let's do it wisely, don't worship them, don't be overinfluenced by them. Alive theatre must turn back into her roots, into old myths – turn back into Dionysos himself. In every good performance Dionysos must be on the stage - it's again a metaphor, of course. All events of the play must physically touch the audience, the audience must become a part of the play.

Alive theatre is democratic and also physically very near to the audience (blackbox theatres are perfect, but it could be possible to change every room into a theatre room). Ticket prices should be as low as possible - our audience is mainly young scholars and not very rich people, bourgeoisie never visits good theatre - so it's not a big deal, let them spend their money to musicals.

Alive Theatre is excitement, agitation, rebellion, revolution! Student Theatre should be in the forefront of this rebellion. At the same time student theatre should be also a revelation (Pet Shop Boys: from revolution to revelation) – but not a revival to another dead system. A good perfomance in student theatre, in alive theatre, should invite us to the journey into the world outside and inside of us, good theatre should create new ideas among the audience, not underline old ones. Theatre's aim is not to only entertain people, not to separate their minds, but to unite their minds (in Estonian the word „entertainment” consists of two parts - "mind" and "separate"...). Only when your mind is concentrated you can start to work with such important questions like „I”, „world”, „time”, „gods”, „birth”, „death” etc.

Theatre people! Don't sit under the glory of your thoughts or ideas. Just look at them as they are and if they are dead or nothing special, just throw them away.

And if the ideal theatre, vivid, alive theatre is ready, you must start to revolt against it, destroy it, and build a new one on the ruins!!

SECOND PART - the thoughts of the actors of Tartu Student Theatre

For me, to be an actor of a student theatre, first of all it gives me a possibility to be on the stage, to act. If I'm in a student theatre, it's not necessary to be in a state theatre, I can play and I know that I'm not becoming a prostitute. When I'm acting on a student theatre stage, I have no name, I'm anonymous, I'm not a star – nothing that can flatter the audience. Things in student theatre are more honest. Here we are not working for money; we are doing a lot of plays that the state theatres don't risk to do. To be an actor in a student theatre means alternative ways of acting.
Kertu, student of painting

I have studied theatre sciences on a theoretical level and to be in student theatre gives me the possibility to watch the theatre process practically. I can compare what I have studied with my practical experiences. First of all I am interested in how one perfomance will come to be, the process and the changes during its lifetime. If I compare with other amateur groups our company is different because we have a professional director. I am also interested in watching the work of the director and other actors critically.

For me, to be in a student theatre, is first of all a job and after that a hobby. One reason why to play in a student theatre is to try achieving a dicipline, self dicipline. Lots of individualities together is only a chaos; the tender interdependance, creating the harmony, this is what enchants me in theatre.
Enor, philosophy

The most important thing about being in a student theatre is to act on the stage. We have worked with texts which are interesting, complicated, which are going directly to your heart and can also cause a pain. It has been a great opportunity for me to meet with such authors as Kane or Kharms. Sometimes I feel that if I play a role, somebody else, I can also understand myself better. Student Theatre is a place for contemplation, concentration and absorbation.

Student theatre is also a place to find good friends. To take part of the parties and theatre festivals means a lot for me. Besides, when travelling, you will see other theatres from different countries and learn something new about yourself as well.
Anne, swedish language and literature

One reason to be in a student theatre is balance. I'm studing geology, which means lot of mathematics, chemistry and physics. It's easy to lose yourself in that rational world and forget that somewhere out there is also poetry. Student theatre helps me remind that.

Secondly, I have played three years in our theatre - and how much have I discovered about others and myself! Enourmous knowledge about the functioning systems of the world... Human being is one of the most complicated and interesting objects to study. I have thought of my personal problems and fears with the help of many performances and it has helped me a lot.

For me the people are also important. It's good to know that somewhere there are people who are thinking differently, who are, I have to say, out of reality. And they are my friends and I can meet with them at any time and be a part of our big family. I love them all, although many of them are seriously lunatics.
Martin, geology

Author: Kalev Kudu, artistic leader of Tartu Student Theatre
Performed in Urbino, on the 6th International World Congress of Student Theatres (21.- 26.07.2006)