Tallinna Linnateater

The stage is like stepping into a living-room. In the center under the lamp a couch, an armchair, a small wooden table with an ashtray, a photograph, a lamp, a rug underneath.

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The audience sit around this centered placed stage. The play is Edward Albee’s drama Who’s afraid of Viriginia Woolf and it’s almost like you are part of the play, as if you are inthe middle of Martha’s and George’s sorrow and cracking marriage.

On another stage we see the play Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones, a story placed on Irland with an Irish filmmaker dreaming of coming to Hollywood. Two actors play all the roles in this comic yet with sad undertones with an amazing presence. The stage is empty, no properties, a black curtain behind where only the light shows that the room is changing. It’s fully booked.

Tallinna Linnateater, Tallinn City Theatre, has seven stages in a building originally from around 15th century. There is the stage in ”Heaven” (up in the attic) and ”Hell” (down in the basement). Each stage with a different character, different possibilities and challenges. Outside in the courtyard a stage is set up for summer theatre.

Tallinn has seven theatres in a city with around 400.000 people. Linnateater is fully booked with a yearly audience booking of well over 100%, Ruudu Raudsepp, Manager of Public Relations, tells us. Just in comparison, Göteborgsoperan (Opera in Göteborg) has a yearly booking of 85%, which has to be considered good. This means around 250.000 people visit Göteborgsoperan each year. Another example is Dramaten in Stockholm, one of the most prominent stages in Sweden, that showed figures in 2010 of yearly booking of 85% (a rise from 2009 showing 78%) which means 290.000 visitors.

These figures say nothing of quality; for example urgency of the matter in the plays chosen, or acting qualities. But still, the figures in Estonia are interesting. In a country of around 1,3 million people, it’s said that around 800.000 up to one million people see a play at one of the many theatres in Estonia during a year. This means that nearly everyone go to the theatre, young as well as old, at least once during a year. Any theatre director would look at these figures with envy.

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