Boys Won’t Be Boys’ Finland debut through the eyes of Gender Studies student Tega Oke

Juin 10, 2024 | Masculinities, News

During her internship at the Institute, our Programme Assistant Tega Oke has been busy supporting the Finnish premiere of Boys Won’t Be Boys, a Dutch theatre production centered on personal and honest stories about masculinity. Find out what it has meant for the Gender Studies student to take part in an international project that got Finnish audiences and the media buzzing!

« When I started my internship, a lot of people asked me how my job would be related to my education in Gender Studies. And at first, I was confused. Could they not see the obvious connections that I saw between gender and culture? With all the questions even I started to doubt myself – how would my knowledge on gender-related matters ever be useful in this job?

Boys Won’t Be Boys at Svenska Teatern is my concrete piece of evidence that it is possible to work with these two things! For this to be my first “proper” internship, it has been really exciting to be a part of such a huge event that brought so many people together, both meaning the international cast of artists and the diverse group of people I saw in the audience. Hearing people talk about how powerful the performances about masculinities were and reading the positive reviews truly warmed my heart.

Three women stand in front of a turquoise banner on the Amos Stage at Svenska Teatern.

Tega Oke, Laura Boxberg and Malin Bergström from the Institute attending the premiere of Boys Won’t Be Boys at Svenska Teatern.

My favourite part of the show was when we, the audience, could connect with each other. The artistic director of Boys Won’t Be Boys, Rikkert van Huisstede asked us to turn to the people next to us and give them a hand hug – gently pet each other’s hands with our thumbs – since it’s obviously not manly to give real hugs (sarcasm alert!). It was fun to engage as an audience member, and (hand) hugging my neighbour to the right truly foreshadowed what Rikkert would bring up in the end: it’s not just a show, it’s our lives. All of these people decided to come to the show because the themes of masculinity meant something to them.

It was fun to engage as an audience member, and (hand) hugging my neighbour to the right truly foreshadowed what Rikkert would bring up in the end: it’s not just a show, it’s our lives.

For me personally, it was incredibly rewarding work experience. Of course I was extremely nervous to see the whole thing as the performers only had a few days to finalise things, along with worries that I had forgotten to do something that would mess up the performances. But luckily, only « a few” surprises ensured that I could actually enjoy the behind-the-scenes of creating the show. I even got my own backstage pass for Svenska Teatern, yay! Thinking back on the pre-show anxiety, performance coordination, booking flights and weird-shaped baggage, last minute translations and ensemble changes, all of it definitely felt worthwhile when I saw the delighted reactions.

Tega Oke stands in front a turquoise banner at Svenska teatern. She is wearing a black top and a polka dot skirt.

« All of the pre-show anxiety definitely felt worthwhile when I saw the delighted reactions, » tells Tega Oke with her backstage pass in tow.

Although I am unfortunately leaving the Institute soon, I will always look back and think how lucky I was to be a part of this international premiere. While it has been an emotional ride, I have found it really cool to see men share their stories about being men – something I, as a Gender Studies student, find meaningful. »

 

The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux’s Programme Assistant Tega Oke is completing an internship funded by Svenska kulturfonden (The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland).

 

Upcoming shows in Oulu

Boys Won’t Be Boys will return to Finland in the autumn with two shows at Oulun teatteri.

20 September 2024 at 13:00
21 September 2024 at 19:00

Buy your tickets for Oulun teatteri here!

In Oulu, the cast including Rikkert van Huisstede, Julian Bohn, Jamie MacDonald, Roderick Kabanga, Julian Owusu, Jani Toivola and Daniel Woodward will be joined by a new local cast member. Stay tuned for more!

Boys Won’t Be Boys’ performances in Finland are commissioned and produced by the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, produced together with Svenska Teatern and Oulun teatteri. The production is in collaboration with Jäbät & Tunteet and is generously supported by Svenska kulturfonden, Konstsamfundet, Otto A. Malmin lahjoitusrahasto, the Netherlands Embassy in Finland and Oulun Valistustalorahasto.

Photos provided by Laura Boxberg / The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux.

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