Public letter by troupe of NO99

Today the Director of NO99, Tiit Ojasoo, announced his resignation from the theatre. We understand that decision. However, we are strongly opposed to several of the reasons that lie behind it.

We know Tiit. Some of us have been working side by side with him for eleven years; some of us for eight years; many of us for six years; and one of us for as long as sixteen years. We know Tiit with all of his virtues and vices. We have been through extremely intense and passionate creative situations. We know him very well.

Tiit made a mistake. He has apologised and he has been penalised. But apparently, this is not enough. The statements made during the last few days have sparked a moral debate. It has not been just a moral condemnation; but has been a debate. There are some people who claim that the Tiit’s punishment has been too mild and that the continuation of his leadership would send a wrong signal to the society. They have insisted on his dismissal. On the other hand, some people say that the punishment has been more than enough. “Yes, I agree with that,” one politician told us. “But how can I communicate this?”

The past week has taught us a lot about Estonian politics. We thought we knew quite a bit about this area, but it appears we didn’t know enough. The council of the theatre, which was supposedly independent, can’t be independent any longer. Theatre NO99, which is an autonomous creative collective, will not be allowed to remain autonomous. Instead, decisions are being made in political corridors. The pressure that led to the resignation of Tiit was political pressure. We are not making assumptions. We know this to be true. Some have called it revenge, and we don’t object to that term. While understanding the genuine civil concerns of some politicians, we regard the behaviour of many politicians as hypocritical, opportunistic and cruel. We have criticised politicians for their mistakes, and we are willing to take the blame for our own mistakes. However, the maliciousness, hypocrisy and self-proclaimed moral infallibility of some political figures is simply repulsive.

The media is responsible for handling topics that are socially important. But even if they have noble goals, this doesn’t justify going wrong with the facts that shape emotional impressions. The press should not be a theatre: artistic exaggerations, dramatic magnifications and expressive outbursts are not their subject field. The mutual back-scratching between politicians and the media always leaves some parts of the story unattended, while abrading other parts until they bleed. What was established last week wasn’t a moral absolute. Instead, it was moral relativism.

You went too far. At one point you lost the ability to stop, and you didn’t see that being condemned by the state and the society was enough. You wanted more. You wanted the maximum revenge for an action when an apology had already been accepted and it had been taken responsibility for. You wanted a victim.

Today we stand united in sadness and angrier, facing the fact that there are councils and art groups which are supposed to be independent, but are actually controlled by politicians. Political pressure has turned autonomous councils into puppets. Also, we are sad and angry about the fact that we constitute a country where people make mistakes, but don’t have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of our society. We feel as if Estonia has not only lost the Art Director of Theatre NO99 today. We feel as if Estonia has lost something else significant today.

Is it enough yet?

Rasmus Kaljujärv
Eva Koldits
Rea Lest
Jörgen Liik
Helena Pruuli
Gert Raudsep
Jarmo Reha
Simeoni Sundja
Ragnar Uustal
Marika Vaarik

June 16 2016