To gather on a summer evening in June in order to celebrate theatre and each other’s presence is the highlight of our year for those of us who work on the festival. It’s a unique feeling when you arrive in Hangö, see the festival tent rise up, experience the artists’ preparations, the volunteers’ hard work and the audience’s arrival. You’re able to let go of the usual humdrum of everyday life and step into a wonderful place where the norm is no longer the expected. Things are different this year. Everyday life became the unexpected and that which would have been a festival in Hangö became a festival at a distance.
We were unsure whether or not Hangö Teaterträff 2020 would take place. Such a decision has made us consider issues like ethics, economy, agreements and interests. While the festival couldn’t be held traditionally, it felt like the right decision would be to present the festival in a new form. In March, we began to toy with the idea of a virtual festival without really knowing what it would entail, and learning has meant hundreds of remote meetings with artists, financiers and partners. Our festival producer Heidi Backström, who only joined us this very year, has earned a hymn of praise; she unknowingly stepped into something that was very uncertain, and has guided us to where we are today. Far from each other, but together.
To let ourselves be challenged by the unknown has become a new kind of everyday life. Svenska YLE has collaborated with interest, and our artists have contributed with fearless inspiration. It’s important to emphasise that almost all of our digital programme consists of works that would have been a part of the original festival. The artists behind them have had the courage to adapt their concepts to something virtual despite the fact that their main expertise lies in physical and public meetings. In other words, many have taken big risks on the way, a step into the unknown. But perhaps a meeting with the unfamiliar is central in all kinds of art. They say theatre reflects the present, and as such, we must be able to present theatre that reflects this time, whatever that implies.
Welcome to Hangö Teaterträff 2020!
/ Anni Klein, Jonas Welander and Tom Rejström