Nära fjärran – A Drama Festival at Suomenlinna

Fotocollage av Hassan Blasim, Astrid Menasanch Tobieson och Lucas Svensson.

Hassan Blasim, Astrid Menasanch Tobieson and Lucas Svensson. Photos: Katja Bohm, Saga Berlin and Matilda Rahm

A drama festival at Suomenlinna with stories from Baghdad, Helsinki, and Stockholm.

NB: The event is fully booked. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting registrations. Send an email to amanda.mannstrom@nordiskkulturkontakt.org if you want to join the waiting list.

On 24 May there will be readings of two Nordic plays with stories from near and far.

Lucas Svensson’s dramatisation of Hassan Blasim’s novel The Iraqi Christ and Astrid Menasanch Tobieson’s play När baba faller i poolen är klockan 23.47 (“When Baba Falls into the Pool it’s 23:47”, not translated into English) both depict stories of migration. In one, we oscillate between Baghdad and Helsinki with the narrator Hassan Blasim. In the other, a young person talks about their father’s feeling of inadequacy, about shame, and about alienation in a new hometown.

New stories are emerging in contemporary Nordic drama, while increasingly intense discussions are taking place about questions of representation – in society at large and on stage. Who can play which role, and which stories can we tell on stage and how?

The plays are read by students from The Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts Helsinki. They have been directed by Astrid Menasanch Tobieson and Janne Pellinen. The readings are followed by conversations with the readers and playwrights.

In addition to the readings, questions about migration, representation, and new Nordic drama are discussed in a panel consisting of Rebecca Brinch, who holds a PhD in Theatre Studies, actor Marie-Lydie Nokouda, and others.

The event is free, but we request that you register for all or parts of the programme to secure your place. The number of places is limited.

Programme for the day:

  • 12:30 Doors open
  • 13:15 Gitte Wille, Director of Nordic Culture Point
  • 13:30 När baba faller i poolen är klockan 23.47 by Astrid Menasanch Tobieson
  • 14:30 Coffee break
  • 15:00 Panel discussion
  • 16:30 Coffee break
  • 17:00 The Iraqi Christ, dramatisation Lucas Svensson
  • 20:00 Doors close

About the plays:

När baba faller i poolen är klockan 23.47 by Astrid Menasanch Tobieson

Director: Astrid Menasanch Tobieson
Readers: Selina Ukkonen and Edit Williams

When Miro’s baba loses his job, the family is left without a source of income. To make ends meet, baba secretly takes a job as an event mascot. He feels ashamed. He gets a job at a pool party dressed as a rabbit among the Swedish elite. The party gets out of control, and eventually, baba is pushed into the pool and slowly starts sinking. How did baba end up there at all? How did everything get to this point in the first place? In his attempt to recreate that evening, Miro begins to remember what his and baba’s life looked like. När baba faller i poolen är klockan 23.47 is a story about inadequacy, about shame, about alienation, and the longing for dignity.

The Iraqi Christ, dramatisation by Lucas Svensson based on Hassan Blasim’s novel of the same title

Director: Janne Pellinen
Readers: Ivar Bremer, Larissa Barck, Joel Häggblom, Li Krook, Rebecca Strömsten, Rebecca Nugent, Ilmi-Emmi Wentzel, Salomon Z Patrik, Daniella Johansson de Laurentiz, Catarina Korkman, Mawlawi Rahem

On the border of memory and fantasy, in a brutal depiction of a raw reality, we oscillate between Iraq and Finland with stories where the surreal and absurd are also entirely realistic. The Iraqi Christ was published in 2013, and the author, Hassan Blasim, who lives in Helsinki, was considered to have revolutionised Arabic literature – from Finland. In 2014, Blasim achieved international recognition when The Independent named The Iraqi Christ the best translated book of the year. Lucas Svensson’s dramatisation – in which he focused on the book’s themes of inner and outer exile, storytelling, literature, faith, magic, violence, war, and sex – premiered at Teater Galeasen in Stockholm in 2020 and was praised by critics.


The Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts Helsinki, Nordic Culture Point, Teaterinfo Finland TINFO, with funding from the Swedish Cultural Foundation and The Finnish Cultural Foundation (through the project The World on Stage).


Nordic Culture Point has been granted the EcoCompass environmental certificate. We’re making every endeavour to reduce our carbon footprint, which is why all travel within the organisation is carefully planned. Use public transport when you visit us, and you’ll contribute to a greener cultural scene, too! 

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