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Eestikeelsed artiklid



Vilen Künnapu



Harry Pye


Mart Aas


Mehis Heinsaar



Ideal Cafe.
Ideal Theatre.
Ideal Cafe-Theatre.

“At the end of the world, there is a cafe,
where we all shall one day meet.”
Tõnu Trubetsky

I like cafes. Why? I am trying to understand.
I like the theatre. Why? I am trying to understand.
I think of both. I carry them along, inside my head. Altogether, I have been thinking about a cafe-theatre for more than seven years now. Is it an Absolute Cafe-Theatre, impossible to realise?

There are several ways I have imagined this ideal place. My vision is rather ethereal, fluttering and light. Like music. But life is a different matter. In life, wood is wood and stone is stone, budget is budget and people are people. But it does not really matter. One can still imagine, no-one can take it away. Even a prisoner can harbour imagination; it is out of the guard’s reach.

Cafe. What is it? Why don’t people eat their pastries at home? I can only guess: at home, there are no other people. At home, you cannot look and wonder, “who is this man and what is he thinking?” In a cafe, people feel that they are not alone – others are there too.

Joonistus / Drawing: Angelika Schneider

One can fantasize about them, “Yesterday, this lady (what a funny nose she has) was kind of happy, but today... I wonder what has happened?” In a cafe, there are no commitments. If I want to sit, I sit, if I don’t want to, I won’t. It seems like there is more time inside the cafe than outside. The thoughts have more freedom to fly.

Theatre. Before the act. Lights against the dark background. A character about to step into the light, to say something, to do something... Someone who is ready to reveal themselves. “Look, there is some dust in the air, in that light...”. Maybe it would be good if no-one came. This is pretty good. . . Silence, light, dust in the air. Something approaching. Everything ahead. Something is about to happen... People sit together and wait – all together... This could last an eternity.

But it can’t. In the theatre, people always step on the stage, finally. This is how it should be, this is inevitable, this is the way.

Yes... here comes a character. Here we go... Maybe it is some crap...?

The beginnings of plays, when the roles appear, are almost never too engaging. The empty stage and projector lights on the dark surface beat the bunch. But then – in about quarter of an hour – it gets interesting. And after that, you forget your eyes on the stage. If the play is good, that is. But the beginnings of plays... indeed... we should do something about the beginnings on Planet Earth, so that right away, there would be... I don’t know... well... like there is afterwards, a feeling of being carried...

So, what is it, the theatre? People are illuminated on the stage, one can sit in darkness and contemplate, “what is he doing there – that character.” “What is going to happen to him? What is he up to now? Wait, why is he doing that? What would I do? It reminds me of what happened once... This is just like uncle Alfred, slurping the same way... It is good to sit here with other people. Others are like me – interesting that I never noticed that... This guy with a gold necklace in the second row, he looked a bit dull, but hey! – he laughed at the same thing as I did...”


“Look – I forgot about myself, forgot that I was sitting here, in the theatre. Now, all of a sudden I woke up, now that the play ended and the light came back.
The walls that were hidden in darkness are there again; they seem cruel. I have to leave... Oh, I forgot to phone Guido about tomorrow, I promised to give him Jüri’s number...” It really feels like I’ve been away, in another world... I put my coat on; it is raining.
Brrrr – here it starts again...
Well – all that...

Ideal theatre lifts you up, takes you along, creates connections and gives your imagination wings so that at times you forget yourself and fly together with the audience. You feel light. Even amidst terror. There is beauty in everything. It is good to fly. But uncomfortable to land. It is sad to leave the theatre. The whole crowd is of a congenial mind. I’d like to sit down with them somewhere and talk, but what do you do, everyone has their own things.

Look – Toits and Vilma! Hello! You saw the play, yes? Lets go sit somewhere!

Theatre is like that, sometimes, at its best, ideally, seldom. The play goes on beyond the stage. The effect persists. And then comes “what did it all mean” and so on – the rational thing.

It seems that both in cafes and theatres people are away, are in flight. The burden of obligations is lifted. “You get away.” You elude from something for some time. From what? I do not know.

There are other such places. Airport. Look at the people in the airport waiting areas. There are several hours until the flight. They cannot go back, through the security check. They cannot go forward, to the plane. A pause. They have time to think. They look out of the window at the planes landing and taking off. They are freer. They wait for the plane. Arrival is still a distant future and they can imagine everything that is about to happen the way they want to.

Where else can we go to get away? Sauna? Nature? Church? Drugs? It is a personal choice, where to go to find a Better Place, a Freer Place, for yourself.

If cafes and theatres stand for Freedom, Imagination and Elusion, the more so the ideal Cafe-Theatre. It is not a recumbent vacation; it is the ability to soar, to be in focused strainless action, to be alert. One cannot give, nor watch, a performance from a reclining position. It takes courage and readiness to give. Only then, we can consciously fly, make ourselves and others forget for an instant, create worlds within and between us. Humans are creative beings and if we do not create, we fatten.

Ideal Cafe-Theatre. I think about it, it changes, expands, lives its own life. Music within me. The texts being recited, the scenes being played out. Silence. Different lightings. Poetic – lets put it this way. Union-of-Human-Beings atmosphere. It is not a political party – just letting you know.

What about the visual side of the Cafe-Theatre? Film and photo, painting as their mother – everything is there, present, represented! Visual, verbal, vocal attributes could harmonise and leave each other space to be. One takes the lead, others stay on the background, and then switch. Academic intelligence, sprawling bohemianism – they too might respect each other in that place.

Masters of chess – welcome! Together with the mimes, who follow them around.
Fresh newspapers from all around the world, just like it used to be in Kultas times.
And sometimes lectures – why not?. . .

Full length performances in the evening. Short forms from young authors, whose friends would perform them and afterwards get into arguments about “why did you sit in that place – I told you it was a standing recitation!”

Writing actors – monologists, dialogists, and so on, who dare to open themselves in that circle of light, others gazing from the shadows, from the twilight. Who dare to reveal what they’ve seen and, even if only obscurely, express their opinion. Maybe adding some little white lies or visualising, but this is acceptable – if you have a story to tell, or a play, or something you’ve seen in your fantasies. If you saw it there – it must exist.

For example, recently I imagined two perfomances. A monologist – one elderly man, curt and sharp as a an actor – this is how I imagined him – had a performance about “what he really remembers of his life.” Wearing a suit full of yellow sticky post-it papers. Picking his memories one by one, because in the head there were none. He looked at the notes and could not remember – he did not recognise his life. It was funny, because it felt familiar. This man – he existed for the moment I imagined him. He lived. He lives, when I talk about him.

And another man on the stage of the Cafe-Theatre had a performance about “what he truly knows.” And as it turned out at the end of the story, he knew nothing.

By the way, one thing is clear – without music, there is no Cafe-Theatre. You can try it yourself – it won’t work – you cannot imagine. . . Or perhaps you can? A mute cafe-theatre, where no-one speaks and it is totally quiet? If you imagine for a little while – this too sounds possible. Flying waitresses? Here you go! In your head, in movies, in texts, on canvas, in music everything is possible.

As you can see – such a place cannot really exist – the ideal Cafe-Theatre. Could it take a shape only in the imagination? But nevertheless, the imagination can express itself in an actual form: in a text, a painting, a performance, a piece of music, etc. Because it is not about actually building a utopian cafeteria, but about creating atmosphere with words, sounds, everything visible and audible, in a certain place. Speaking about this ideal Cafe-Theatre engenders it in the minds of the participants and guests.
So, I am considering doing this project – even if it is only a one-time event – in Tallinn. We could call it the “Cafe Utopia” project.

Let your thoughts fly. Write to me, describe the Ideal Cafe or the Ideal Theatre or the Ideal Cafe-Theatre. And make it so, that this text – your imagination – could be read or performed or played or sung. The more detailed you are, the better your picture is conveyed to the performer, the spectator and the listener. It is complicated to bring the ideal cafe, theatre or cafe-theatre into form, because matter sets its own limitations. But imagination is unbounded. The idea is to gather together the performance/playlist/sound/poetry/music/painting/light/coffe, etc. that express the fantasy of what the ideal could be like.

If your fancy hooks onto this idea, write to me boheemland@gmail.com

Mart Aas is a freelance actor-writer.