Every two years starting from 2000 Tallinn City Theatre organises an international theatre festival named the Midwinter Night’s Dream. Traditionally the festival takes place during in December.
Midwinter Night’s Dream is not a Shakespeare festival, although the name might imply it – the paraphrase refers to the magic time between Christmas and New Year, when anything is possible.
The idea of organising a festival was born after the City Theatre had moved into its freshly renovated new wing. The theatre, which until then had to cope with a single black box seating a hundred spectators, suddenly had a unique complex with multiple venues at its disposal – perfect for inviting guest performers from all over the world. On the other hand it was clear that the City Theatre building with its small venues and intimate atmosphere was not created for mass events – it was better suited for close communications and an exchange of experiences.
Thus was born the idea of bringing a number of brilliant theatre companies together in Tallinn at the end of the year – the stress being on the word “together”, because unlike many large festivals Midwinter Night’s Dream dedicates a lot of attention to creating the opportunity for the performers to arrive and leave at the same time, to see each other’s performances and to have a chance to learn from each other. Also, the audience has had the opportunity to meet interesting theatre makers from different countries at discussions, performances or workshops.
Each time the festival has had a new artistic director, which means that the choice of productions has varied greatly from year to year. The scale of productions has stretched from the psychological masterworks of Peter Brook and Kama Ginkas to a spirited African dance show, from the German avant-garde of Frank Castorf and Martin Wuttke to the serious Finnish everyday tragedy of Reko Lundan, from Dmitri Krymov’s visual narrative to Japanese one-man comedy of Issey Ogata. Each festival has enriched the local theatrical palette and offered the audience a variety of productions which otherwise would probably never have reached Estonian stages. We have always tried to invite productions which are somewhat different from the typical “festival productions” touring all over Europe, and which would bring along a clearly recognisable element representing their homeland.
The workshops are becoming a more and more important part of the festival programme. We are proud to have been able to make it possible for our audience to meet such renowned theatre makers as Anatoli Vassilyev, Kama Ginkas, Adolph Shapiro, Frank Castorf, Patravadi Medjuhon, Issey Ogata, Dmitry Krymov, Bruce Myers and others.