A FIVE-STAR BULL’S-EYE ★★★★★
Babylon was the thing in Finnish theater in 2018. It received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The show has toured throughout Finland, visiting a number of the country’s most notable theaters, and it was also selected for the lineups of the most important theater festivals in the country, for example, Tampere Theatre Festival.
In Babylon, the titular character (Minna Puolanto) wants to solve all the core issues regarding power. Her servant Ré (Hanna Seppä) helps her in the process. This partly autobiographic and hilarious performance tackles a variety of situations where power is exercised. The two clowns bring different scepter wielders onstage, from Madonna to Ronaldo and from Catherine the Great to Donald Trump. The power setting between Babylon and Re is also an essential part in addressing the theme.
The performance, directed by Marielle Eklund-Vasama, asks us why we — almost always — settle into power structures in regard to each other. Can’t we live in an equal society? It also examines the power structures between genders and gives a new and fresh opinion on #metoo.
Duration: 1 h 30 min, no intermission
Age recommendation: For adults and young people 13 and up.
There are two language versions: Finnish and English. There are also English subtitles that can be used for the Finnish-language version.
On stage: Minna Puolanto and Hanna Seppä
Directed by: Marielle Eklund-Vasama
Text and dramaturgy: Minna Puolanto, Marielle Eklund-Vasama and the crew
Light design and touring manager: Juha Tuisku
Costume designer and seamstress: Virve Karoliina Balk
Photos: Mark Sergeev
Production: Minna Puolanto, Niina Bergius, Aino Torikka, Anna Jauhola & Mika Vainio / Red Nose Company
★★★★★ “A bull’s eye. The performance is skillfully structured… – – hysterically funny. – – Puolanto truly knows how to process everything from the personal to the universal. – – Seppä and Puolanto collaborate seamlessly. – – The clowns show us that the magic in theater is born out of simplicity: out of having a light in the auditorium, a skilled actor in it and a small red nose.”
– Helsingin Sanomat / Laura Kytölä
“The performance is cheerfully feminist, blunt and fiercely funny. – – Babylon (Puolanto) shines – – Hanna Seppä’s Ré is absolutely lovable – – The relationship between the clowns adds to the theme and crosscuts it. The play is personal, and it can be seen in the sharp observations; the actors’ stories feel real and true. – – Babylon is the star of the night, but she’s not a good guy.”
– The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, Tuula Viitaniemi
“Everything is spun into a whole that makes various power structures visible also on an everyday level – – Babylon cunningly uses her power on her assistant Ré as well as the audience. – – The dramaturgy of the performance is created using the logic of playing children’s games – – Minna Puolanto is a skillful and versatile actor who sticks her neck out as Babylon.”
– Turun Sanomat, Irmeli Haapanen
Minna Puolanto (b. 1972) graduated from the Theatre Academy as an actress (2005) and as a dancer (1995). She’s worked as an actress in both big theaters as well as in small theater companies around Finland and has also appeared in TV series, radio plays and films. Puolanto has been awarded twice at international festivals (The Pärnu Fringe Festival Award, 2013; 3rd prize at Monobaltija Festival, 2012). She also works as a playwright and director and was nominated for the Finnish Stage Actor of the Year Award in 2018 for her role in Babylon.
Hanna Seppä (b. 1978) graduated as an actress from the Theatre Academy in 2004 and has worked as an actress at the Vaasa City Theatre and Kotka City Theatre. She’s also played big roles in a number of theater companies and in the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s Radio Theatre. Seppä also works as a playwright, director and drama teacher. She’s worked with, among others, prison inmates.
Marielle Eklund-Vasama (b. 1971) has graduated as a director from the Finnish Theatre Academy. She has also studied Commedia dell ́Arte in Italy, and directing at the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts and the University College of Opera in Stockholm. Since 2003, she has worked as a director and playwright in city theatres, theatre groups and for the Finnish and Swedish Radio Broadcasting Companies. She specializes in musical theatre and has also directed operas. Her works have participated in a number of festivals, both in Finland and abroad.
Juha Tuisku (b. 1966) has a long and acclaimed career as a sound and light designer and composer that started in the 1980s. He has worked in Finland’s biggest theaters but with a number of small theater companies as well. He won the State Prize in drama in 2002 and has been nominated twice for the Säde Award given by the Lighting, Sound and Video Designers in Finland, in 2008 and 2011. He has also won a number of international awards.
Virve Karoliina Balk (b. 1970) is an artisan seamstress, awarded ecodesign trashionista and fashion designer. She has designed and made clothes for corporate events, festivals, record covers, advertisements and contemporary circus costumes for the Nexus Extreme group. Balk works as a freelance costume designer and seamstress for KokoTeatteri and a number of dance schools and theater companies.