Transnational Influences: Theatrical Interactivity in the Nordic/Baltic Region and Beyond

Conference in Helsinki Finland, 21-23 March 2019 at Helsinki University

The Association for Nordic Theatre Scholars (ANTS) invites you to participate in the conference “Transnational Influences: Theatrical Interactivity in the Nordic/Baltic Region and Beyond” at the University of Helsinki from Thursday to Saturday 21-23 March 2019. The conference is organised in association with the Finnish Theatre Scholars (TeaTS), research project “Theatre and cultural relationships between Finland and Estonia” (Helsinki and Tartu universities, funded by KONE Foundation), the Theatre Museum and the National Theatre of Finland.

Please send a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper with a brief biography as a PDF attachment to by 1 November 2018. Responses will be given by 15 November 2018.

While theatre activity has always crossed borders, theatre studies have normally been written from local or national standpoints. To break this pattern, the conference will feature transnational connections and interactivity, artistic migrations, and transcultural borrowings across geographical boundaries. It will focus both on individual and collective efforts, artistic touring and exchange, border crossing, transnational connections and the blurring of national and transnational identities.

The conference will consider theatrical exchanges between Nordic and Baltic countries and between Nordic/Baltic countries and abroad. These could be at institutional levels between governments or theatre institutions and companies or between artists or concerning artists abroad and/or in exile. It will also consider exchanges between national subjects and non-national minorities within countries (such as the convergence of Russian-speakers and Latvian-speakers or between Russian-speaking and Estonian-speaking performances in Latvia and Estonia). It will trace and analyze both the push and the pull behind the artistic migrations and theatrical exchanges, the (mis)interpretations of the Other around inter- and transnational performances, and the outcomes of this interaction.

We will welcome papers dealing with current or historical theatrical exchanges, especially ones in which tangible evidence can be adduced showing the effect of these transnational exchanges. These could include transnational migrations of writers, directors, actors, dancers, dramas, performances, and theatre companies, and their ideas and ideologies and their effect on their new environment, e.g. theatrical developments as a result of transnational theatrical exchange. Papers might utilize theoretical approaches to address problems of subjectivity, identity, agency, etc.

Part of the conference will feature presentations of research from a major three-year project focusing on theatrical exchanges between Finland and Estonia. In addition to exchanges between Finland and Estonia, possibilities include, for example, connections between:

Finland and Sweden
Iceland and Denmark
Latvia and Germany or Russia
Norway and Denmark
Lithuania and Poland
Links across the Iron Curtain

The conference will take place on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of Minna Canth, a prominent 19th century Finnish dramatist, whose work has featured in Estonia and Sweden, and who will be celebrated on 18 to 19 March at the National Theatre and with a Minna Canth exhibition at the Theatre Museum in Helsinki. Influenced by Emile Zola and Henrik Ibsen, Canth’s ground-breaking work at the end of the nineteenth century challenged the inadequate conditions for women and workers and the denial of their human rights. In her plays, she raised social issues, such as women’s legal position in society, the right to own property, to vote, and to take control of their own bodies. Her commemoration gives us the opportunity to reflect on how theatre and artistic practice have influenced social change over the last centuries, especially in the transmission of ideas, ideologies and practices across borders.

Selected papers given at the conference will be developed as articles to be published in Nordic Theatre Studies, with a special section reserved for the Finnish-Estonian research project.

The conference fee is 80 € and includes panel and workshop sessions, coffee and lunch during breaks and a conference dinner.

Please send a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper with a brief biography as a PDF attachment to by 1 November 2018. Responses will be given by 15 November 2018.

Website will be open by the end of October.

Contact: Steve Wilmer and Hanna Korsberg

Scientific Committee:
Hanna Korsberg
Mikko-Olavi Seppälä
Anneli Saro
Steve Wilmer
Magnus Thor Thorbergsson

Past Events

Re-think Theatre, Dramaturgy and Performance Studies:
Re-search, re-consider, re-make
ANTS Conference in Aarhus 18-20 May 2017

Theatre and the Popular
ANTS Conference in Reykjavik 11-13 March 2016

Crossing Borders – Theatre and Cultural Encounters
ANTS Conference in Helsinki and Tvärminne, 5–8 May 2015

University of Helsinki, The Finnish Society of Theatre Research (TeaTS)
and the Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars (NTF)

On Crossing Borders

“What the map cuts up the story cuts across”
(Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984, p. 129)

The title of the Conference conjures up a number of images: centre and periphery; urban and rural; transnational and international theatre phenomena; space and spatiality. Topics might include, for instance, the transnational, transregional, transcultural, or translingual encounters of artists, practices, styles, performances, mentalities, institutions, etc.

We welcome different kinds of theoretical approaches for ‘cultural encounters’: for instance the concept of “intercrossing” of the histoire croizée approach, which tries to go beyond comparative and transfer studies, and the concept of “interweaving” advanced by the International Research Center of “Interweaving Performance Cultures” in Berlin. Both approaches stress the reciprocity and diversification of the encountering process and its aftermath.

Practical information

We invite scholars of theatre and performance studies who are interested in exploring the encountering and crossing cultural borders to please send a 200-300 word abstract and a short CV to the Program Committee by 15 January to Saara Moisio at Decisions will be made by 1 February 2015.

The conference is organized and supported by the Finnish Society of Theatre Research (TEATS) together with the discipline of Theatre Research at the University of Helsinki and in collaboration with the Nordic Theatre Scholars. Selected papers will be printed in a special guest issue of Nordic Theatre Studies in 2016.

The conference begins in Helsinki (University of Helsinki) and moves in the late afternoon of the second day to Tvärminne for two extra days. Tvärminne is a seaside Zoological Station and research center of the University of Helsinki. It is situated in a costal bilingual area, at the crossroads of historical postal routes across the sea and into the hinterland. The Station was established in 1902 and provides good background data for studying long-term environmental change. In addition, it is situated in a nature reserve, where only research and teaching activities are allowed.

The conference fee (200 €) will include accommodation and meals for two nights in Tvärminne and travel from Helsinki to Tvärminne and back. In the event that we succeed with our fund-raising efforts, we may be able to reduce the cost. Participants will need to arrange their own accommodation in Helsinki for which the conference organisers will provide recommendations.

Program Committee:

Mikko-Olavi Seppälä, University of Helsinki, Finland
Laura Gröndahl, University of Tampere, Finland
Pirkko Koski, University of Helsinki, Finland
Anneli Saro, University of Tartu, Estonia
Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen, University of Stockholm, Sweden
Jurgita Staniskyte, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania Steve Wilmer, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Laura-Elina Aho, University of Helsinki Saara Moisio, University of Helsinki