In keeping with the rich variety of theatre available in Helsingfors, one of the most enjoyable nights out in the city can be found by attending a Swedish – language performance at Lilla Teatern. Originally founded in 1940 by two actors from the Swedish Theatre that were looking to set up something for themselves, theatre director Pekka Strang currently conducts the performances both on and off stage.
“There are 270 seats, so it is a medium-sized theatre,” he explains. “The architecture is excellent for actors. The audience is very close and the actors can feel and see them.”
Under the banner of Helsinki City Theatre since 2005, the mission is to produce Swedish-speaking theatre, with many Finnish-Swedish writers having enjoyed premieres of their work on this stage.
For all of the hard work that goes into overseeing the variety of performances on offer, one wonders if Strang still has the time to flex his acting muscles. “Sometimes I can’t resist getting on stage,” he laughs. “I’m trying to get down from 120 to 75 performances a year.”
And why provide such theatrics?
“Fun is the main reason!”
A national icon
Located in the heart of Helsingfors, Svenska Teatern, or the Swedish Theatre, was the first national stage of Finland, completed in 1827. The theatre boasts two stages, with a capacity of 750 and 127, respectively. It also houses a theatre school. After a renovation by renowned architects Eero Saarinen and Jarl Ekland in 1935, the stunning facade remains as it stands today, an important landmark in Helsingfors’ artistic history.