Finnish Company Features Unconventional Casts

Mar 9, 2012

DuvTeatern Committed to Artists with Developmental Disabilities

"These people challenged my fears and filled up my eyes.
They made me want to live bigger.
They made me feel like I could dance."

DuvTeatern, based in Helsinki, consists of eight actors with developmental disabilities along with a few professional theatre practitioners. The company was founded in 1999 to stage classic plays and later, operas. The group functions within the framework of DUV i Mellersta Nyland rf. - an association promoting the well-being of people with developmental disabilities in the region of Central Uusimaa, Finland.

The productions are broadly adapted from well-known classics, including Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, Three Sisters (Chekhov), children's plays based on the stories of the Brothers Grimm and  Carmen, Bird of Prey, a variation of Bizet´s opera Carmen. It was a collaboration between The Finnish National Opera, the Blue Flamenco School of Dance and DuvTeatern. The project brought together people with and without disabilities, people with different languages and diverse backgrounds, and also created a framework for three distinct art-traditions to merge: opera, theatre and dance.

DuvTeatern aims to deepen the connection between people with and without disabilities and co-operates with visiting professional artists in every project. The interaction between the actors and the audience is also of central importance, and audience participation workshops are offered as part of each production. Among the things that are most important to the artists is that they are enabled to tell stories of personal relevance and that it is their ideas, drawn out through the process of improvisation, that make out the basis for the performance. The goal is to use the actors' personalities, talents and ability to create engaging theatre.

A recent project is Duva/Diva, a photographic collection created by DuvTeatern in co-operation with photographer Stefan Bremer, costume designer Paula Varis and graphic designer Maria Appelgren. The photographs are inspired by the beauty and glamour of the world of opera, the proud and sensual flamenco dance, the dramatic story of Carmen and the roles developed by the performers in Carmen, Bird of Prey.  A book was published as a tribute to the ambitious approaches towards their work as actors and dancers, their ability to co-operate artistically and their creativity.


From February 23 - April 15, 2012 many of these photographic portraits are on display in galleries throughout Washington, D.C. For more information...