“Helsinki is a magical city”
Seven years ago, 26-year-old Alexander Weinstein from Saint Petersburg was an economist and a financial analyst for a large transport company. But then he met stage director Tatyana Priyatkina (now Weinstein), and his life was turned upside down.
Alexander and Tatyana married and began to work together. The couple founded Light People, the largest private drama school in Saint Petersburg, and a contemporary performing arts centre called Platform Skorohod.
“I left a boring but financially rewarding job in economics for a risky but extremely entertaining profession as a theatrical producer”, Alexander explains.
The couple moved to Helsinki in March last year, when Matilda von Weissenberg, director of the Helsinki-based theatre Viirus, invited them to take part in the Meeting the Odyssey project.
At the moment, the couple’s work can be seen at the Korjaamo Culture Factory in Helsinki, where they have set up two “escape rooms”. Escape room refers to a type of physical adventure game in which people are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a serious of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit. The concept has grown hugely popular in a matter of a few years.
“I like interacting with my audience. I want to produce art that includes people in new ways”, says Alexander about his philosophy.
So far, Alexander has always collaborated with his wife, but this year the two are working on separate projects. Tatyana is busy directing plays for Viirus and Svenska Teatern in Helsinki, and Alexander is focusing all his attention on a project called Remote Helsinki, which will première on Helsinki Day on 12 June.
“Remote Helsinki is a magical mix of theatre and a walking tour, which takes participants to secret and unexpected locations around Helsinki, in a very avant-garde way.”
The participants are given headphones, through which a synthetic voice tells them where to go and what to do. The tour takes one and a half hours, and the route will be lined with different kinds of technology. The soundscape created by the headphones also plays an essential role.
“The tour is designed especially for people who live in Helsinki. The aim is to turn the whole city into a stage, and to let people experience their home town from a new perspective”, Alexander explains.
The concept was developed by director Stefan Kaegi from the Berlin-based theatre Rimini Protokoll, and Alexander’s project is a collaboration with representatives of the theatre. The Remote X concept has already been used in 17 cities around the world, from Berlin to Bangalore and from New York to Milan. Alexander explains that the script and the dramatic composition of the Remote X experience are different in every city, as they depend on the characteristics of the location.
A playful city
Alexander describes Helsinki as an easily-approachable, playful city.
“Helsinki is a magical city. It is easy to do different kinds of contemporary art projects here”, Alexander says, referring to the large pool of potential partners and the availability of funding.
He is excited to be working in Helsinki, which he considers to be an inspiring, cosmopolitan city.
“The doors to the world are now open”, he says.
Text and picture: Venla Pystynen
Raoul Grünstein chose Alexander Weinstein as the maker of the Helsinki of the future.