Curtains for Estonia's cult theatre

The avant-garde theatre NO99 has shocked Estonia's cultural scene with the surprise announcement that it will close its doors in January 2019. It was no longer able to work in a way worthy of its creative ideals, the theatre said explaining the decision. Commentators commend the publicly-financed establishment's honest approach.

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Postimees (EE) /

A dignified demise

Theatre NO99 was doomed to fail from the start, Postimees writes:

“The most honest and objective thing you can say about the theatre is that its management took on a burden that became too heavy to bear. The theatre's vision was a paradox: a state-run avant-garde theatre obliged by the tax money that paid its bills to be frantically modern. NO99 was incapable of fulfilling this impossible ideal, and those who financed it - the Ministry of Culture and the taxpayers - couldn't expect it to either. Yet the theatre nevertheless managed to shake up conservative ideas of art and life while pleasing both critics and the general public.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

An honest decision

The theatre's decision to close its doors shows that it remains true to its principles, Eesti Päevaleht explains:

“The state had earmarked 1.1 million euros for the theatre for next year, and NO99 could simply have gone on existing. However, the theatre was no longer bringing in much money. In this situation it could have changed its repertoire and started producing sure-fire box office hits instead of experimenting and testing limits. But that would be a betrayal of its own creed. The battle of the right-wing populists against NO99 hardly influenced the end; the voters of EKRE [the Conservative People's Party of Estonia] never formed part of NO99's audience. If there was an external factor that played a role, it was the scandal of director Ojasoo, who destroyed the mystique surrounding NO99 in the eyes of many of its fans.”