Meet Riikka and Antti Puumalainen, Creators And Performers of EdFringe’s ‘A Couple Of Humans’

image for a couple of humans
Production image for A Couple of Humans

Riikka and Antti Puumalainen’s show A Couple Of Humans uses dance, sound design and live production to look at the impact that technology has had on our relationships. This interdisciplinary work asks two big questions: “who am I?” and “who are we together?”. Their production will be performed as part of From Start to Finnish, an annual showcase at the Fringe that showcases some of the best Finnish talent.

The Indiependent spoke to Riikka and Antti Puumalainen, creators and performers of the show ahead of their Fringe debut.

The Indiependent: What is the premise of your show?

Riikka and Antti Puumalainen: The performance A Couple of Humans aims to open the viewer’s perspectives on communication, interaction and the problems related to encountering another through the means of dance and stage art. We find this topic significant because humanity and human relationships determine the form and structure of society from the grassroots level. The themes of the performance develop from personal starting points to become universal and relatable. The goal is a humane, warm and human-like work that aims to look deeply into the human experience as an individual and as a part of a community on a general level. Movement and live video projection are the central tools of the stage work. The aim of choreography is to bring the above-mentioned elements together and bring movement and physical expression to the centre of the context. Dance and physicality open a deeper and more touching level to communication. As we are a real-life artist/couple of dancer/choreographer (Riikka Puumalainen) and sound designer/artist (Antti Puumalainen), we have a very different perspective to dance. One premise related to the themes of the show is also allowing both to have their own approach to dancing.

Your production is inspired by the COVID pandemic. How was lockdown for you, and did it have a big impact on your creating processes?

For us the lockdown was probably as confusing as to anyone else in the performing arts field. There were several upcoming productions cancelled or postponed within a minimal timespan, and especially at first there was really nothing that could compensate for the work that was already planned. As it was advised by the authorities, we stayed home quite a lot with our 4-piece family so we got to spend a lot of time together, but at the same time we were not allowed to meet our parents or grandparents for a long time. We pulled through as we had our family community but at the same time our thoughts were with the people that did not have that kind of social network. The show A Couple of Humans draws from those emotions of confusion yet caring and love. The pandemic and the lockdown that followed forced us to think about what it is that makes us human in the first place. That thought was the initial impulse for the creative process of our show.

How are you feeling about this year’s Fringe?

It is our very first time [at the] Fringe and we are so excited and looking forward to being able to present our show for the Fringe audience. The Edinburgh Fringe has a great reputation within the theatre field in Finland and around the world so obviously this is a great opportunity for anyone.

Who inspires you?

We’re inspired by open-minded artists and groups who make art from their own basis. Whether it is theatre, dance, performance or installation art, the personal and relatable approach indulges us. 

What’s next for you after the Fringe?

A Couple of Humans continues touring in Finland in the autumn. We will have shows scheduled in Turku and Oulu. In the coming years there might also be a follow-up on A Couple of Humans so the show will live on hopefully for a long time!

A Couple of Humans will be performed from 4-20 August (not 9 and 14) at Summerhall Main Hall.

Words by Ellen Leslie

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