Antti Puuhaara

 

Script and directrion: Tuomo Railo
Visualisation: Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila
Animations: Leevi Lehtinen
Performers: Johanna Keinänen, Kaisa Niemi ja Tuomo Railo

 

Antti Puuhaara

The Fur retailer

I’m an old man already, but I still haven’t found out where one can find one’s greatest happiness. You are young and brisk, you travel to Pohjola and ask Louhi, the omniscient! 

Antti

Certainly, whatever you wish me to do, dear father-in-law!

The whole village has gathered at Uunitsa local history museum. Theatre company Hyvämieli is expected to arrive soon. The museum staff – amanuensis Diainen, cashier Miss Harmoinen and caretaker Ipatti – are guiding excited villagers to the auditorium. Soon to begin is tour theatre Hyvämieli’s rendering of the fairy tale Antti Puuhaara.When the museum staff is giving safety instructions, the phone rings…

Tuomo Railo’s exhilarating dramatization of the fairy tale Antti Puuhaara is a story of the search for happiness and the twists of fate told using the techniques of object theatre. When the staff of Uunitsa local history museum realize that the theatre company Hyvämieli will not make it to Uunitsa in time because of a flat tyre, they decide to perform the adventures of Antti Puuhaara to the villagers themselves. Because the story has many different characters, the resourceful staff make use of museum objects.

The fairy tale Antti Puuhaara is full of imagination and excitement. At the beginning, the old seer’s prophecy seals together the fates of the newborn Antti and the fur retailer who happens to be present. Later, on the way to Pohjola, Antti meets giants rooted to the spot, a ferryman of the underworld who has gotten tired of his office and finally, the omniscient Louhi. The fairy tale world is a framework for Antti’s human survival story, in which he receives unselfish help from the hunter, Louhi’s daughter as well as from teenagers who are literate and manage to foil the fur retailer’s intentios.

Antti Puuhara’s humour is roguishly cheerful, even though Antti is actually a victim of human trafficking and several murder attempts by the rich fur retailer. Throughout the story, Antti is happily ignorant of the schemes for getting rid of him, and like a true hero, he happens to change the lives of the fairy tale characters he meets to the better. I am fascinated by the story’s happy practicality, carefree attitude and the straightforward natural imagination. – Tuomo Railo

The museum’s resourceful staff members are played by comedians Kaisa Niemi, Johanna Keinänen and Tuomo Railo. The performers conjure a wood cabin, hunters, giants, gusts of wind and teenagers out of the museum objects. The magical experience evolves with the help of projected paintings and animations. The huge giants animated by Leevi Lehtinen appear in the room making a strikingly vibrant and three-dimensional impression. Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila’s humorous costumes and Metti Nordin’s atmospheric staging make it even easier to get absorbed in the the fairy tale.

The performance stirs the spectator’s curiosity for the life in the old days. At times, the folk tale’s archaic language calls for explanations by the museum staff, and amanuensis Dianen cannot stop herself from modernizing the moral of the fairy tale – a person’s happiness today is not any more just clearing and farming fields. Now one must also take into consideration sustainable development and ecology.

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