Theatre Festival Impressions

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By Richard Swartz I was astounded and impressed by the exceptionally high quality theatre that was performed at the recently held fourth Bravo International Theatre Festival in Helsinki, Finland. The varied festival consisted of a number of European and two African theatre groups, Namibia and Cameroon. There definitely exists a vibrant theatre industry for children and young people in Europe, something we Namibians can only dream of. Overall I think my own work, Living Hell, performed seven times, compared favourably with all the other performances from countries such as Finland, France, Slovenia, Belgium, Denmark and Argentina. I have made so many friends and theatre contacts that can come in very handy for the promotion of and export of Namibian stage productions to some of these countries. An offer for a three-month directorial visit to Finland was also proposed to me, something I am presently seriously considering. I think the Europeans can learn quite a bit from us about theatre, and we from them. The yearly 10-day festival staged under the auspices of Assitej-Finland catered theatre from wordless mime, baby theatre, puppet theatre, comedies, tragedies performed in the metropolitan area of the Finnish capital Helsinki. Audiences had the opportunity to meet with the artists after performances for in-depth creative discussions, something that made me feel good. (The writer, playwright and actor, the only Namibian, attended the festival in Finland for the first time and arrived back in the country on Sunday.) *Living Hell is to be performed tonight as part of a double performance in the village of Schlip.