Estonia: Star director under suspicion

The case of a theatre director who reportedly hit an actress has caused a stir in Estonia. Tiit Ojasoo, head of the Tallinn avant-garde theatre NO99, had to appear in court on charges of assault. Last week an out-of-court settlement was reached with the victim, but as far as the Estonian press is concerned the case is far from closed.

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Õhtuleht (EE) /

Politicians shouldn't get involved

Several MPs have called on Estonia's minister of culture to fire the star theatre director Tiit Ojasoo after his violent outbreak against an actress. The tabloid Õhtuleht is sceptical:

“Let's put aside the trifling detail that some of the critics themselves don't always act like moral and ethical social beacons. It's also not to be excluded that behind the justified outrage lies the hypocritical wish of some to be in the limelight themselves and to settle old scores with Ojasoo. Well, what else could we do with him? Send him to work in a factory, or banish him to some far-off destination where he can neither write nor receive letters? In a strange way this demand by the ten MPs sounds strikingly like a justification for the social criticism at the very heart of the Theatre NO99.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Not theatre but brutality

Anyone who believes the attack on the actress was part of the stage direction is dead wrong, Eesti Päevaleht is sure:

“No one can seriously believe that this act of violence against a woman - who just happened to be employed by Ojasoo - was supposed to be developed into a socially critical play. This newspaper is in possession of reports according to which the altercation comprised more than just pushing and shoving and was in fact an all-out brawl with repeated punches and kicks. In this light Ojasoo's explanation that everything he does sooner or later becomes part of a play sounds like a clever attempt to clear himself. What's more, the attack was so serious that it's hard to believe this was the first time he resorted to physical violence.”

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (EE) /

The fate of a fallen angel

The website of the Estonian public broadcaster explains why the incident has been the subject of such media hype:

“Ojasoo's name is associated with many gripping performances, and many people hold him in high regard. When someone like that does something despicable it's hard to form an opinion. Unlike in those cases where the attacker is a generally despised person in this case part of society will feel sympathy for the popular artist. It provokes many contradictory feelings. That said, the status of 'popular artist' is also a burden. When someone's plays have to a certain extent turned him into the honour and conscience of Estonia, he's expected to behave impeccably in his work and in his private life. And if that's not always the case, part of society will be more critical than usual of the 'fallen angel'.”