After five years of delighting shoppers and tourists in Tallinn, Estonia’s Treff street festival has become a benchmark for performance art in Eastern Europe.
This year the Treff’s line-up includes dance, music, and puppet theatre as part of Tallinn’s European Capital of Culture programme for 2011.
Festival artistic director Vahur Keller said: “We have 700 performers and all together 1,400 people making this festival. There are different performing arts, students and also great professionals from 18 countries.”
The streets of old Tallinn become a stage for the Festival’s performers.
Polish students from Warsaw put on a mostly improvised act using masks and puppets.
Performing arts student Karolina Czarnecka was delighted at the audience reaction: “It was very interesting that people who are not from Poland and don’t understand anything, they were laughing.”
A dozen international performing arts schools take part in the festival. Among them the Saint Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, the oldest and largest institution of its kind in Russia.
Their show had no words, but was based on interacting with the audience.
Performer Aleksandr Psebelski said: “Our main aim is that the public responds and goes with us. The goal is to really involve people.”
“When the audience is sitting in a seat in the theatre it’s easier to hold their attention,” he went on. “In the street, their attention is spread about a little, so whoever is playing a role at a given moment becomes the centre of attention. On a standard stage, the company is seen as a single bloc, and the group is the centre of attention. Here on the street, each member of the troupe gets a share of the limelight.”
Tallinn’s flower festival is also part of the city’s ambitious European Capital of Culture programme.
Over a period of three months, 31 gardens designed by foreign and Estonian artists and gardeners will adorn the park in Towers Square.
Caspart Lotsmann, the festival project manager said: “The objective of the festival is to show people that the gardens are not only grass and small bottles for flowers, you can make it an art piece basically.”
Original installations are on display until the end of August.
The European Capital of Culture 2011 has more than 250 different events and festivals planned until December.