When I came out from the Finnish National Theatre last Saturday afternoon with my friends, our thoughts were focused towards dinner. It was only after the dessert that anyone gave a thought on the play we had seen, “Timetable of Dreams”.
– I wonder what the message was, said my friend, summarizing the confusion we all shared.
The performance had consisted of group of pensioners sharing their memories and dreams – or those of their contemporaries – singing, dancing or speaking. Retired stage professionals still know how to make the audience laugh and sigh, and their voices brought back many half-forgotten memories of our own.
When the ever-young dancer Aira Samulin, 87, made the audience stand up and do some gymnastics to the music, we had a creepy feeling that this lies ahead of us all sooner than we expect in an old people’s home…
Samulin was born in Karelia. Like 400 000 Finns, she had to leave her home forever when the area became a stage of war and was later joined to the Soviet Union. All her dreams, too, were left behind for quite a while. Now she rapped – yes! – her reminiscences perhaps with a special vigour, as earlier that day she had attended the Helsinki Anti-Aircraft Regiment´s 70th anniversary parade.
In spite of some touching moments, the unanimous judgment of our jury was that the script should have been rewritten once more. Moreover, shopkeepers and inspectors may have had extraordinarily interesting lives, but without stage routine it is difficult for them to convey their story to the hearts of the audience.
The writer and director, Jemina Sillanpää, is mostly known to the public as a musician and actress. The play was originally planned to be performed only a few times, but it has become enormously popular, and all performances have been quickly sold out. It has obviously touched many hearts more than ours.
The event I attended: Unelmien aikataulu (Timetable of Dreams), written and directed by Jemina Sillanpää. Finnish National Theatre, on 22 February 2014.
Photo: The choreographer, dancer Jorma Uotinen congratulates Aira Samulin and Jukka Virtanen for their performance.