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Credits: Oblivia

Collective introduction to the blog theme ‘music theatre’

Fanfares! Haze! Applauds and confetti! With deep excitement, we, the Obsessions team introduce our personal relationships with music theatre – or how we experience it in April 2021. Welcome to the blog 2021!

Annika: I remember the gut feeling. That decisive feeling of “we need an electronic music composer for the project, we need an electronic music composer”. We were gathered around our kitchen table in 2018 and started to plan the next project during the process of Children and Other Radicals # 2. In my mind rung the impressed greetings by a composer who had seen Children and Other Radicals # 1 that “it was true minimalism” and I was going on “we need an electronic music composer”.  

Looking back, it was all so clear. We had the Finnish premiere at the National Opera, the piece was very rhythmic and musical. We even had a speech choir. In Light & Easy that we premiered the year after, we sang happily and accompanied ourselves vocally with gong-like, white noise -like and many more -like sounds, not forgetting the vocal trumpets. Here we moved into the realm of emotions that I find inherently connected to music theatre. Music theatre affects all levels of the senses. But it is foremost very strongly connected to the world of emotions. Without emotions no music theatre for us at least. Music and musicality in a broad sense of the word in all its precision is directly linked to the world of emotions. Perhaps exactly because of the heightened sensitivity combined with the mathematical precision, it reaches emotional places in us. 

Of course, the next step would be full-on music theatre. No doubt about that. Christine Fischer from the ECLAT festival connected us with electronic music composer Yiran Zhao and we met for the first time in August 2019 in a searing hot Stuttgart. The connection clicked immediately. Yiran’s openness, eagerness for experimentation and skill was amazing. We had found our electronic music composer.

So for me, music theatre is this. A place for experimenting in the deepest sense of the word. A place for emotions to be conveyed in a sensuous reflecting meeting point. A place where the intellect and the emotions meet, a place where electronic music, vocals, acoustic instruments, light, sound, costumes, stage action and stage creates a blast. A place for a collective effort that builds a universe that is unfolding in all its associative manifold richness from all the parts that creates the performance. A place for unknown possibilities, for kindness and a place for being together (one day) with audiences. Stars are twinkling and all is possible.

Alice: A room full of sound. Someone humming a light melody over there in the corner. Another one making high pitched little squeaks. Right next to my right ear, an almost mechanical sound, metallic and repetitive, but it is made by a person’s voice. This is not a composition, it is just a room full of sound. But maybe we can get a glimpse here and there of what is going to happen with it in the future? Will this turn into music? Or can we skip the music theatre part and just make sound theatre? What does it say in our contract? I’m sure it is all very open to interpretation. Who decides what music is, anyways? Let’s see… Music was my first love. And it will be my last. Music of the future. Music of the past. We know about music’s past, it is all written somewhere in the schoolbooks or pressed on records or filed in digital archives. But what do we know about music’s future? Not that much. Music is a new companion to us, even though it feels like she has always been there somehow. She feels like a stranger but then again like home. Let’s walk together for a while. Let’s see what you can show us. What your favourite places or foods are. What you have been dreaming last night. Who you have a secret crush on. What your opinions are on yesterday’s breaking news. What you think about the upcoming election. If you prefer to sit window or aisle. If you like splitting dessert. If you want to dance. For how long? OK, just the groovy parts, not the slow songs. If that is what you like. I think we are feeling good about this. Has been going well so far, hasn’t it. Not uncomfortable at all. Challenging. But not impossible. I think we are ready. So, let’s go. It can’t be that hard. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love. 

Timo: It’s not just talking or only singing or merely making sound and moving about gracefully. It’s all of these and a lot more done in a way that makes one think of a monster or an animal wedded to a performer – a performeranimalmonster on a revolving stage. 

Anski: As a performer I can usually find myself a home in different projects; body, voice and physical practices as my base I am able to grow roots in different grounds. Yet I never thought of stepping into the world of music theatre or trying to put on the dramaturge’s hat. Surprise! I am looking forward to arriving at the meeting point of big theatre houses, music theatre and Oblivia. I foresee a powerful process with sensitivity, big emotions, wonderfully strange gestures and regeneration. 

Meri: It’s a terrain of freedom and fun, where the strict rules of serious performance art does not reach. It falls out from the requirement of being entertaining, instead it can be emotional and sensorial, it can linger, it can hum, it can hypnotise and it can shock. It is open and welcoming, it’s undefined, nobody is defining what it has to be. 

Tua: Music theatre for me is about extremes, excess and the unknown: from previous, I narrow-mindedly connect the term with bright, joyful family productions and adult productions that are either dark and dramatic or candy cotton light and goofy. What exists between has been truly unknown to me: this doubles the excitement and pleasure in taking the ride with the NOperas project. 

Yiran: For me, music theatre is such a wide space of many different kinds of art formats. It offers an opportunity to experience performance, dance, music, action, visual art etc all at once. It is a form for all kinds of audience of all ages. The way how Oblivia works in the Obsessions project is very special and inspiring for me to expand my compositional exploration.