Tomorrow, Thursday 28th of April is Poetry Day Ireland – and as part of that, I’ll be doing my solo performance of poetic tarot readings called Poetry Fortunes. It’s a one-on-one performance that creates chance poetry through a special set of tarot cards and a lovely break from the day to day! In Zoom, or in-person on Inishmore
I know everyone is fed up with Zoom by now, but unless you are on the island, that’s the way to access this one. I promise it won’t feel too much like online communication though. The performance was created during the pandemic, and one of my objectives was to make it feel as embodied and present as I could.
BOOK A SLOT – it’s only 10 euros, and you get a poem & tarot reading with that.
I spent the last two weeks in a black box called theatre creating the world of a play called THE OTHER WORLD, where audiences are invited to travel to Utopia. They arrive at the station of The Unfathomable Travel Agency, where they are directed to the waiting area. A train station, an airport, a liminal space from where we can travel to imaginable destinations, such as Planet B, Dystopia – and the one they are waiting for, Utopia.
The play speaks about bare feet, connecting with Earth – it explores the collapse of society in a kind way – it asks questions about care and control that often bother me. Care, like many other things that hold a value that is unmeasurable, is often measured in terms of success, length, and other structures that do not really make it possible.
You can’t fail at care – every attempt at it is a struggle toward compassion and connection. But if we evaluate care from the point of view of success, it becomes a thing we can fail at, a thing to be afraid of – and care, that already carries a tendency toward control within itself, becomes corrupt.
“We are the wilderness, and like the wilderness, all we are grows. Whatever we have grows – whatever we choose, grows. And what really grew was the control.”
When I was around 20, I met a drunk philosophy student outside an Irish bar in Helsinki, Finland. We got into an argument about freedom and choice and things related when I pointed out that I want to be limited, I want to eventually die and I don’t want to have an endless amount of choice over my life.
I wasn’t completely sure myself back then why I wanted that – I certainly wasn’t saying I want privileged males to limit me or that I want a government that tells me what to do, which is how I think he understood me.
Making this play, I think I returned to that drunken thought, that drunken fight under streetlamps and rain and blackness of winter when snow did no longer fall and what it meant.
I want to be limited by Earth, its rhythms, and its resources, because being limited by this means being connected, and being connected means not being alone, and not being alone means that there is the care and it doesn’t have to be measured, that despite the events we consider as failures within care, the care still persists, is, just exists, in how we support each other – including non-humans. Connection, vulnerability, and other scary things we avoid are the things I long for more than anything.
I’m delighted when I can only wash laundry on sunny days because it won’t dry otherwise. I hate having seven hundred brands of yogurt to choose from. I love how the Earth – rocks, stones, temperature – slows me down when walking barefoot. I like to be limited, I like being a part of something, in conversation, affected and growing like the wilderness, that which we are.
What we tend to consider as freedom of choice seems to be a lot like loneliness.
The Other World is a play developed together with actor Anastasia Trizna (Helsinki, Finland) – with the support of Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Galway County Council – with the dramaturgical support from Town Hall Theatre Playwrights (Galway) – developed in Theatre57 TEST residency with actor Julie Quinn (Galway).
I am still here, just disappeared into a rabbit hole of actually making work instead of talking about the work a bit – and also, life. I like life, but it’s pretty time-consuming and makes you forget that your internet presence is completely neglected.
While not blogging, I have been…
writing the play The Other World – which has received much appreciated support from both Galway County Arts Office & Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
Working with binaural microphones and other wicked sound devices to create a soundwalk/adventure/magical field trip on an island. This project, which still needs a catchy name, was started within the Remote Control Residency, has received support from Irish Arts Council & Town Hall Theatre and is on its way to become something very interesting.
I have also gone through a very emotional premiere of It’s True I Love You All So Much – 30th of September was a night I could hardly stay inside my skin.
And while all this stuff has been happening, Tequila was also recommended by Runografi on their list of sparkling first collections.
Now, hopefully the next blog update is a bit more something and not just a list of things done. Whey!
The play I have been working with lately got its name yesterday – THE OTHER WORLD is a piece about wilderness, civilization, care and control, and about someone else’s problems. Within the play, I explore the presence of wilderness that is juxtaposed with civilization through utopian and dystopian otherworlds – places of escape – and through attempts to cease them.
The juxtaposition between civilization and wilderness feels false to me: If we ever were – and I think we very much still are, despite our dissociative behaviour where the knowledge of destroying what we need the most makes us believe there is nothing we can do – part of the wilderness, did civilization not grow out of wilderness and does it not share the same characteristics?
One of the famous quotes about how civilization began comes from anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said that beginning of civilization was the mending of a broken femur, because within the animal kingdom you were doomed if you hurt yourself that badly. It was the time someone took to help someone that to her meant civilization began.
However, the quality of care did already exist within wilderness – compassion is not only a characteristic of human species, for example, trees take care of each other – the difference to before was that someone had the time and tools, the resources, to attend to someone else’s hurt within our kind, species which tends to use more than they give. The civilization Mead talks about, and the civilization I would want to extent toward all our fellow beings, began from means to act more compassionately toward each other despite being a destructive existence.
Afterwards, the amount of care and nurture within human race has both extended and grown and become excessive and sometimes lethal. It has, like all that is wild, changed and found new ways and pockets where it can exist, sometimes stepping on toes of other beings, over-consuming and indulging, and sometimes comfortably dividing space, co-existing.
We have hospitals, doctors, vets, and healers, we have scientists researching for cures to all kinds of ills – and we have pampering and luxury and advertisements that remind us how important it is to take care of oneself. We have care that is crushing like control, where our fear of anything happening makes us grow wildflowers in curated conditions. We have living wills where we can forbid keeping ourselves alive past the point of no return, and we have discussions over euthanasia. And so on.
We also have a planet that is literally burning, which we escape inside otherworlds – dreams of spaceships and voids where we give up. I wonder, whether exploring the false juxtaposition between civilization and wilderness, between otherworlds and the one that is, between utopias and resources, is a way to become wild again – a way to give up on the achieved lifestyle, the unnecessary, the extend, a way to find balance between care and life that is eventually death and then life again?
The play is being written for actress Anastasia Trizna in Finland with the support from Taike & Galway County Council. I’m also looking for actor in Ireland who’d be interested in doing the show – it’s a bit immersive, site-related and requires someone who has a passion toward creating better worlds. Email me with any enquiries to jenni.nikinmaa at gmail.com
First of all, thanks to Taike & Galway County Council for the support I have received toward completing this play, which, as the headline suggests, is without a name.
The play will be an immersive experience with themes of civilization and wilderness, care and control, and their extremes. It grew out of talks we had with the actress Anastasia Trizna about everything she wanted to say about the world. We talked about things like over-consumption, threats women experience, threats journalists experience, political issues, power, the environment, climate catastrophe, gender issues, and everything else we know we need to change if we want to create a more just and fair world where we can live. A lot of themes, which only fell onto place when Alpine Fellowship announced their call for this year’s writing prizes: They asked submissions under the title Untamed – On Wilderness And Civilization, which seemed to tie the threats of thoughts nicely together in a bundle that can be dramatized.
However, the play is still without a name, which often tells me there is something either missing or too many things I am trying to fit under one umbrella – those at the edges get soaked, and eventually everyone is wet from the rain. My debut play, Älä jätä jälkiä (Leave No Trace) had its title from the very beginning of the five-year process of making it. The play It’s True I Love You All So Much which shall be produced by Eva’s Echo Theatre Company later this year was christened when I made the initial proposal for it for my dissertation. Apple Blossoms was Apple Blossoms from the start – and so on.
This play who behaves very differently than the rest, has been called, so far –
Wilderness through different viewpoints Wilderness The End of The Song Is Death Witnessing Their Bare Feet Correspondence Feel
And probably half a dozen more possible names. Maybe I should just call it Quite a few things we want to say about the world and then some. I would love to stick with bare feet, though, because I often go on walks without shoes just to experience the limitations of the physical world and to escape the civilization, which to me is a form of care that turned into control and started destroying itself – care that turned into aspiring for an excessive length of lifespan, fearing death and thoughts of deserving more and more, into layers of protection that cut the connection with the Earth.
If we wouldn’t wear shoes we would be more wary of where we step. Our feet would be able to listen.
Last year around this time I got an email from a stranger asking to read my script that had been shortlisted for Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize. For some reason, I had not got the message about my own success, and was baffled for a moment.
That play was written before and just happened to fit the theme of 2020, which was forgiveness. It was a highly personal piece of writing, and has since developed into a play called IT’S TRUE I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH, which is being produced by Eva’s Echo Theatre Company in Galway. It was a piece I needed to write, an outburst of things I felt were necessary to say. A wild thing.
Today, I got the email that I wasn’t shortlisted this time around. I wasn’t expecting to be, because the piece I sent them hadn’t found its wilderness yet – it’s need to exist. The theme of this year’s competition is UNTAMED – ON CIVILIZATION AND WILDERNESS, and I am fairly grateful for the rejection since I think it will push me into direction I wouldn’t have thought otherwise.
I have also received support from Galway County Council to write the play, and now that I am not waiting results from the Fellowship, I can share a little bit of the process here – the civilization, the thought-out structure, the research, the things I want it to speak about. And hopefully amongst those thoughts is also that pull which I find makes a great play text – the pull which defines why it needs to exist.
One of my artistic interests for a few years now has been the amount of “real” and the amount of “story” in any given circumstance. Obviously, we can’t get outside our own experience to ever really touch the raw reality, but there can be tremendous differences in how close we are.
For me, the interest stems from realizing how many fantasy worlds I create when I fall for a guy – I have had a stubborn tendency to like unavailable men from afar, building stories of love in my head and heart while they – most of the time – are completely unaware of their effect on me. This is, obviously, a defence mechanism: After one quite rough experience in liking another person in my twenties I wasn’t really able to let anything real in for a number of years, and to some extent I also am still processing my parents divorce from 1996, since back then I quite stubbornly decided not to.
However, in the last few years, I’ve gotten fond of trying to hang on to the real instead of the fairytales I make in my head. It’s often painful to accept, most of the times I don’t particularly like the reality – but I do know why Alice left the Wonderland. Even when the real, especially in romantic relationships, is the scariest thing, it is also something worth the attempt to make it stable. This goes also for the planet and its human-caused crisis.
To an extent, I think we all hoover in-between the land of fairies, dreams and fears, the land built from our experiences and defences, the land that can make us fall into madness or make us believe – and the embodied, which we define as real. I think both are necessary, wonderful places – but that if we constantly keep falling into rabbit holes and hoping for wonders, maybe it would do some good to stay on the ground for a while.
I’m currently living on an island and working on two projects that are directly related to islands – the other being a poetry book, and the other being an immersive theatre performance.
There is something about islands I find comforting, even when this poem out of my self-published collection might suggest otherwise. You can order the book called Queen of Wandering from jennitiera.art/shop
Somehow islands make me also face a lot of things I tend to run away from in cities. Such as the horrible knowledge that I might have to eventually leave this place that I’ve fallen in love with. Unlike avoidant and distant people, islands let me linger long enough to get attached.
This week, we have had the first two meetings of Remote Control, an artist development programme run by Brú Theatre, the Town Hall Theatre & Galway Dance Project. I’m one of the four artists selected to take part and excited to get to work. I’ll be looking at stories related to Inishmore, where I am currently living, and how to create subtle and magical immersive experiences in dialogue with them. Read more about the project and other participants from the links above!
I’m also very thankful for getting support from Galway County Council toward writing a play consisting of several monologues that explore what it is to be wild, how care turns into control, and what happens when we grow wildflowers in carefully curated conditions.
Super excited for both of these projects, which shall keep me busy enough.
I was reading through some of my old stuff from MA in Playwriting & Dramaturgy at NUIG (while simultaneously getting another rejection letter, how delightful) and just found this short beginning of a piece or a scene kind of delightful and wanted to share.