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BLOCK THEATRE

A MULTISENSORY EXPERIENCE

In block theatre, imagination, with the help of wooden blocks, guides the spectator to arange of different worlds. The  non-verbal performance captures the audience, and the puppeteer, together with the music and the rest of the soundscape, breaths life to the blocks. Block theatre is a visual art form that stirs the viewer’s imagination. The performance opens new points of view for creativity, with the work of art gaining a new layer from each spectator’s unique interpretation.

 

The block theatre first saw the light of day in the café of a local art museum in Pori, Finland, in July 2011. Kai Ruohonen, then employee of the art museum, had a question to his colleague Roosa Halme: he’d been developing his own block art, but could it maybe work with puppetry as well? Halme was taken by the idea, and brought a pile of blocks back home with her. The show started to find its form, and by the end of the year the block theatre was already performed at a local puppetry festival.

 

The block theatre is suitable for all ages, and as a non-verbal form of art knows no language barriers either. The performance can also be followed by a workshop, where the blocks are used to create new characters and worlds. The block theatre has traveled the world and been seen by children, students, and seniors alike. The therapeutic aspects of block theatre have also been studied, when a US professor of art therapy, puppeteer therapist Matthew Berner took the block theatre on tour to special needs day cares, residential childcare institutions, and retirement homes.

 

The show’s duration is about 30 minutes, and is suitable for about 60 spectators at a time. The show can be performed in an auditorium, a recreation room, or a similar space, where there is room for a 2m x 2m free space near to a power socket. It’s great if you can dim the room, but it’s not an absolute necessity.

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BLOCK THEATRE

LINK TO VIDEO SAMPLE

© KO-KOO-MO 2011

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VARIATION no I

HONEST MEDITATION ON ONESELF

Block theatre’s show Variation no I studies creation and destruction, both deeply rooted in human beings. The performance discusses the importance of form, and how we both treasure it and yearn to destroy it. The show is directed by the internationally acclaimed theatre director Yana Tumina, who is also in charge of the dramaturgy.

 

Tumina feels the wooden blocks are a unique material, and an endless source of ideas. She calls them an extraordinary dictionary, capable of building immense towers of different themes and situations. Creation and destruction, freedom and repression, emerged as the main themes almost of their own free will. The wooden blocks are a way to explore our inner capabilities to build and to destroy – the beginning and the end to form.

 

The peculiar dramaturgy for the wooden blocks emerges from a space, where the most basic of forms, patterns and movement follow their own rules. The message of Variation no I is not aimed at a particular target or age group. The show is an honest meditation on oneself in the world, and the relationship between humans and their creations. Variation no I is the beginning to a story, and can be continued by studying the unique wooden forms. The show has toured Finland, and has also been performed at international festivals in Estonia, Slovenia, and Russia.

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VARIATION no II

MY BLOCKS OF LIFE

Variation no II – My Blocks of Life centers on the wooden blocks from the Human-Shaped Reconstruction Kit, designed by artist Kai Ruohonen. The performance’s dramaturgy follows a series of tasks. Each spectator constructs their own content. The work is based on alternative memories and scenarios the spectator creates, together with the facilitator.

 

During the performance, the spectators build a block theatre show for themselves, looking at a flow of images they’ve built themselves, based on their own life. The work is inclusive, encourages authorship, and can support the participant’s self-expression and self-knowledge. The works built during the performance are photographed and printed with a polaroid camera, and each spectator gets their own block comic to take with them and contemplate.

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VARIAATION no III

TWELVE O'CLOCK SETTING

World premiere at TIP-Fest 2023

 

The world builds up, breaks down, changes. Piece by piece.

 

The wordless performance serves moments for imagining the future. In the landscape restaurant the customer can experience locally prepared dishes. In the landscape restaurant the customer can influence the content of the menu. In the landscape restaurant the customer can realize the dish of one's dream.

Photo: Sinikka Lumiluoto

Staff: Roosa Halme and Sinikka Lumiluoto

Raw material producer: Kai Ruohonen

Production: KO-KOO-MO / Annukka Ketola

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