Theatre Room is closed for the summer. Along with much of the educational world (apologies to my antipodean readers) we are done for another academic year and headed off for sunnier (or in my case, cooler) climes. Having said this, a few things have happened in the world of theatre over the last few weeks that give some pause for thought, so over the next few days I will be writing about these.
However, today I want to share a beautiful place I found on the first stop of my summer holiday. Based in Helsinki for few days, I took a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to Estonia to have a wander around the old city of Tallinn and turning a corner, stumbled across the NUKU Theatre and Museum. Nuku (which means puppet in Estonian) is the current guise of the Estonian State Puppet Theatre which was founded in 1952.
Set beautifully in restored buildings, parts of which date back to the medieval period, NUKU comprises a puppet museum, puppetry research centre, puppet making workshops and various sized theatres (with another currently under construction within a neighbouring building) as well as housing the Estonian office of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette). The museum’s exhibits are curated using the latest technology, with an extensive puppet and marionette collection that includes those created in-house as well as pieces from around the world amongst which are shadow puppets from Indonesia, bunraku puppets from Japan and exquisite old world Eastern European puppets.
The theatres had just closed for the summer and a couple of the exhibits were under a bit of reorganisation so it was quiet when I visited and I ended up talking to one of the staff, Maria Usk, who turned out to be the museum’s director. As a result I ended up getting my own private little tour from Maria which was just wonderful.
So if you find yourself in Tallinn, do go to NUKU. It is really well worth a visit if you are interested in the history and current practice of European puppet theatre. A real gem.