Estonian theatre NO99 awarded the Europe Theatre Prize

The Tallinn, Estonia-based avant-garde theatre, NO99, has been awarded the Europe Theatre Prize for new theatrical realities; the award was presented in Rome on 17 December.

Supported by the European Commission, the prize highlights theatre makers that have contributed to the development of contemporary performing arts in Europe. Termed the “‘Oscars’ of the European theatre”, the prize was established in 1986 and the first prize was awarded in 1987 to Ariane Mnouchkine for her work with the Théâtre du Soleil.

The prize awards innovative theatres – the ones that combine cutting edge technology, computer generated images, pantomime, dancing, circus and alternative music, in addition to more conventional theatrical methods.

A theatre, but also much more

NO99, established in 2005 in the Estonian capital and comprising a troupe of ten actors, is led artistically by Tiit Ojasoo and Ene-Liis Semper. Over the years many of its productions have achieved considerable success at the European theatre festivals and the troupe has performed in Germany, the UK, France, Russia, Switzerland and Finland.

“NO99 is a theatre, but it is also much more. Theatre NO99 is a serial work of contemporary art,” the theatre’s team characterises its work. “To be sure, everything that belongs with contemporary European performing arts production is here, but the actors are at the centre of everything. They are active and indispensable co-authors of the productions.”

According to the NO99’s creative team, the theatre is a platform for different types of works of art. “Theatre NO99 is public space. In a globalising and atomising world, there are ever fewer places that belong to everyone and which would bring together people who do not know each other already in advance. Places that would unite society. Theatre is not a product; the spectator is not a customer. It is precisely performing arts with meeting at their centre that have a special role in creating public space, be it spiritual or physical, in the era of the brave new world that is spreading its wings. NO99 Theatre is just such a space.”

Among others, the Europe Theatre Prize for new theatrical realities has over the years been awarded to Thomas Ostermeier, Romeo Castellucci, Kristian Smeds, Katie Michell, Rimini Protokoll, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Christoph Marthaler, Theatergroep Hollandia, Sasha Waltz, Alvis Hermanis, Oskaras Korshunovas, Heiner Goebbels, Alain Platel and many others artists and companies.

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Images courtesy of NO99.

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.