Sami Henrik
Sami Henrik

Category: Stuff

Post in a Research Blog

An international peer-reviewed journal ‘Theatre, Dance and Performance Training’ has published a special issue 9. 2. in July 2018 focusing on ‘Training for Immersive, Interactive and Participatory Theatre’. SHH wrote and edited a two-part contribution for the issue.

The first part is published in the TDPT research blog here and it deals with acting technique in participatory and immersive performances.

The post is openly accessible.

(Photo from the performance ‘The Real Health Center’. In the photo: Anna Korolainen and participants. Photographer: Marko Mäkinen)

Immersive Mainstream

I wrote an article to the latest edition of Teatteri&Tanssi+Sirkus, a performing arts periodical published in Finland. Unfortunately the article is only in Finnish at the moment.

(Photo from the performance ‘Rave for MAD’. Direction, choreography and dj: Sami Henrik Haapala and Antti Lahti. Media design: Paula Lehtonen. Photographer: Pekka Mäkinen)

Power and Prejudice

I wrote an article about my current artistic work to the latest edition of Teatteri&Tanssi+Sirkus, a performing arts periodical published in Finland. Unfortunately the article is only in Finnish at the moment.

Imagination, Engagement & Education

This post is about a one-day symposium ‘Imagination, Engagement & Education’ organized by Punchdrunk Enrichment in London in November 2016. The whole post only in Finnish (sorry about that).

The Real Health Center Special Broadcast

Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE broadcasted a special one hour programme about The Real Health Center on Fri 23. 9. at 12.10. 

After the broadcast it can be heard on YLE Areena. You can jump to the programme here.

Interview at YLE

SHH was interviewed by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE about participatory and immersive performances in relation to The Real Health Center. You can listen to the program here (only in Finnish).

‘A Scratch Night of Play’ in London

I was on a superfast research trip to London in December to experience and research scratches combining theatre and game design.

‘A Scratch Night of Play’ was organized by London-based company Coney. The runner of Coney Tassos Stevens asked me to visit their blog and write about my experience and a bit about the differencies of British and Finnish approaches to theatre and game design.

You can read the post by jumping here.

Games and Augmented Theatre

Games and Augmented Theatre

I wrote an article about games in the performing arts for the Finnish performing arts periodical Teatteri&Tanssi+Sirkus (‘Theatre&Dance+Circus’) in Spring 2015. You can read the article by taking a jump here. Unfortunately the article is only in Finnish at the moment.

Immersed Spectator

This is the first article I wrote about immersive theatre to Finnish performing arts periodical Teatteri&Tanssi+Sirkus (‘Theatre&Dance+Circus’) in Spring 2013. To my knowledge it’s also the first time anyone has written about immersive theatre in Finland.

You can read the whole article after the jump here. (Only in Finnish at the moment, sorry.)

Photo from ‘In the Beginning was the End’ by dreamthinkspeak. Photographer: Elliott Franks.

The Melting Pot of Sexualities

This is a post about an article I wrote about the second xPlore festival in Berlin. The article was first published in Kaltio magazine. You can find the whole article in Finnish on the Finnish side of this page.

Visit on Finnish National Radio

SHH visited Finnish National Radio to discuss immersive theatre. You can listen to the discussion here (only in Finnish).

56th Venice Biennial

SHH participated as an artistic researcher in the 1st Research Pavillion organized by the University of the Arts Helsinki at 56th Venice Biennial in 10 – 20 June 2015.

He wrote about the Biennial to Finnish periodical Voima and its webzine Fifi. You can read the article in Fifi here (in Finnish only).

A Moment

A passing moment from ’Then She Fell’, an immersive theatre and dance performance by Third Rail Projects in New York City, 4th December 2014.

A boy in a doctor’s suite guides me to a wooden chair under a staircase in a small, enclosed space in an old building. He opens a door with a vertical mirror attached to it. The mirror reflects a girl on the other end of a room with her naked back to me washing herself in gentle movements. Her waist is covered with a white cloth.

I don’t know if this is how it happened. This is how I remember it now, the next day.

When she has finished washing herself, she turns slowly to look at me through the mirror. Then she walks to the door and moves it slightly so that I can’t see her.

She asks me if she can ask me a question.

”Sure.”

”Do you think it’s more important to follow the rules or to do what you want?”, she asks.

”I don’t know.”

”When did you last did what you wanted?”

”I can’t remember, and it makes me a bit melancholy.”

I really don’t remember. I don’t mean I haven’t broken the rules for a long time. At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s just not something that I remember at that passing moment when a beautiful girl is asking you good questions.

The rest of her garments are beside me outside the door. She asks me to give them to her one by one and I obey. Then she opens the door wider, steps through the doorway and asks for the last one. I hand it to her, but when she takes it I don’t give it to her.

”Please.”, she says, not in any particular way.

I would like to keep having this discussion as this is the first time during the performance when it really responds to me beyond simple choices. There suddenly seems to be more space for meaning generated by my involvement. Before this moment it has been a performance that’s been performed for me to watch, not so much to participate in.

I give the last piece to her after a moment’s hesitation.

I would want to explore this moment further, but it feels that there’s really no real space in the structure of the performance to allow this. The structure says to me she can’t really stay. She walks up the stairs to the next floor and looks at me one more time through the mirror and asks:

”When did you fall in love the first time?”

”When I was about six.”

She leaves me and a female doctor comes to get me.

There has been a lot of other writings about the performance which tell you more explicitly about the show. You can also take a look at the site of ‘Then She Fell’ to get more sense than you will from this write-up. Here I wanted to write directly from the point of view of one specific moment, because I think those are the ones where the meaning is created especially in an immersive performance.

It’s definitely exhilarating what is happening in immersive theatre at the moment in both United States and Europe. In the States it seems to be developing a quality of a new form of entertainment when Europe is more geared towards developing it as an artistic form. By this I don’t want to belittle the ambition of the artists in the States, but the lack of public funding reflects in the performances. The latest and biggest production by Punchdrunk (’The Drowned Man’) cost 19 £ (from a student) in London when ’Sleep No More’ costs 125 $ in New York. The funding affects who are the ones who can afford to go and experience the performances.

‘Then She Fell’ connects with the approach of Punchdrunk in that they both have a pleasurable sweet and sour quality of physicality paired with intense feelings. The feelings of the spectator are still mostly quite safe. I feel that there would still be a lot more to discover even only in terms of emotions. But that is quite natural at this stage when immersive theatre is still in the process of finding its form. And I think that’s great because it promises a lot of thrilling and intense works for the future.

The question that remained with me from the performance was the girl asking when did you last break the rules. I contacted the production company as I would’ve wanted to discuss with the specific performer what happens in those moments, what kind of reality or fiction of intimacy they create and what kind of power structures they cause in relation to the spectator.

The production company said it’s not possible. I think I tried to break a rule that’s not supposed to be broken.

In the photo: Rachel I. Berman as Alice. Photo by Darial Sneed.

The World or Enlightenment?

The article published originally in Yoga journal Ananda in May 2014.

The World or Enlightenment?

Acting meets Yoga

This post is about an article for the Finnish Yoga journal Ananda that discusses the benefits of Yoga for acting, considers the differing opinions and cites Grotowski as one theatre practitioner who experimented with Yoga in developing new acting technique. I also talk briefly about my own experience in relation to acting and Yoga.

You can read the article – unfortunately only in Finnish at the moment – here.

About Acting Technique

I have always said that clear technique is the groundstone for all great art. This page is from the world premiere of Kansallissankari (‘The National Hero’) written by Okko Leo and directed by Vihtori Rämä.

Click on the image to open in a bigger window.

Into New Space

This post is about an article for the cultural magazine Kaltio 1/2014 called Uuteen avaruuteen (‘Into a New Space‘).

The article discusses artistic research as a new paradigm for research after quantitative and qualitative research paradigms.

You can read the article – unfortunately only in Finnish at the moment – here.

Photo: Theatre Academy of Finland

The Stars and the Activists of Immersive Theatre

Sonya Cullingford in Punchdrunk’s ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable’. Photo: Birgit & Rolf.

This post is an article I wrote for the Finnish theatre periodical ‘Teatteri&Tanssi+sirkus’ (2/2014) about immersive theatre.

The whole text is in the Finnish version of this page.

 

 

Conor Doyle, Ed Warner, Omar Gordon, Tomislav English and Vinicius Salles in Punchdrunk’s ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable’.

Photo: Birgit & Rolf.

Immersing Continues

Fernanda Prata, Jesse Kovarsky in Punchdrunk’s ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable. Photo: Birgit & Ralf.

There’s a longer article about immersive theatre in the next Finnish theatre periodical Teatteri&Tanssi+sirkus (2/2014). The text will be mostly about the experience of Punchdrunk‘s ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable’ including a discussion with Coney‘s Tassos Stevens expanding further the ideas of immersive theatre.

A bit from the article:

Tassos Stevens talked about how in traditional theatre the writer writes the story to fit inside a presupposed frame. A person comes to the theatre, sits on a chair, the lights go out and the story begins. This is a simplification, but this is usually the format. In immersive theatre you write the journey of that person from the moment she first comes to contact with the piece.

I think it’s a nice distinction.

10 Very Clear, Logical And Scientific Facts About Artistic Research

Throughout the Autumn I’ve been meaning to write more on artistic research, but there have been just so many thoughts and feelings that it has seemed impossible to write about them in short form.

That’s why I’ll resort to simple, practical and utterly logical solution: A list.

Here goes.

10 Very Clear, Logical And Scientific Facts About Artistic Research

1. All the texts and discussions centre on practice. Nobody has any time for practice because they spend all their time reading the texts about the practice.

2. Artistic research shouldn’t be based on existing scientific or art production models. To justify this approach, you should formulate your artistic research according to existing scientific or art production models.

3. You should be open for artistic research to unfold in unexpected ways, but to know beforehand how it unfolds.

4. PhD / Doctor of Arts is the highest arts degree in Finland. People see it as an end to your career as an artist.

6. You can’t do anything, because everything is potentially a form of oppression. This is the main reason why systems of oppression continue as they were.

7. You should be critical of everything except the system of criticism itself.

8. You should be able to logically formulate why logic really doesn’t work as an overall principle with art (refer to number 2).

9. You should avoid feelings when discussing anything that has to do with feelings.

You said 10? Oh, I did, didn’t I?

There’s always something that is left out, something you can’t grasp, something beyond your control.

There’s also always something that doesn’t make sense. Not everything does. I don’t think everything should.

And these are also the main reasons why I’m still enjoying immensely playing around with this weird thing called artistic research.

But I haven’t stopped acting or dancing (refer to number 4) or doing other weird things. I see artistic research as a truly wonderful way to deepen that practice, may be even any practice. Kind of like life as practice.

This page is for selected ramblings on various subjects ranging from acting techniques to experimental contemporary dance to clubs.

Finnish and English parts of the blog include slightly different posts.