Experiences from Rapitative in Kaarela

Article 4.2.2021

During the autumn of 2020 Karolina Lamroth from Kannelmäki participated in Rapitative (Räpätätiivi), which was a FiBO-project in the Kaarela area and part of the At the Roots -project. The local project At the Roots was done following the Helsinki model, meaning that culture is experienced and created in a new way for all the area’s inhabitants to experience. When the Covid-19 situation is better new projects are coming! The easiest way to get information about them is from FiBO’s più-page. You can also ask about the projects on the address toimisto@fibo.fi. 

Karolina Lamroth. Photo: Astor Fiestas.

The heart was singing in Rapitative (Räpätätiivi in Finnish)

After a tough Covid-spring came summer. light and a feeling a bit more free. Back then I got a hint about the Rapitative-project and that it could interest me. To be fair, I had seen posters about Rapitative but thought that it was meant for the youth. However, since I got the hint I decided to join. Who cares if I was going to be the local quota mum. I’d be crazy if I let this opportunity slip away. The only problem was that the last performance was going to be on my child’s 10th birthday. I had already promised that we would spend the whole day and evening together. I decided to take a risk and together with my partner we decided that on this birthday the whole family would go and see the last show.

Right before the first rehearsals I got nervous. I wondered how I was going to survive during them. Should I, after all, cancel the whole thing? What would I anyway be doing there alongside professional musicians and other artists? I can’t even ra, and wasn’t that the whole point of this all. But I gathered myself, demanded me not to take things too seriously and got to the rehearsals. And of course it was a bit nerve-racking. We sat there in a ring consisting of only strangers and did rhythm exercises and other team building exercises. Those have always been very uncomfortable to me. The first thought is always that there certainly will be an instruction that I don’t understand, I will fail, and everybody will laugh. On the other hand I knew that if I would fail miserably, I would just walk away without looking back at all since I didn’t know anyone. However, during the exercises I realized that they weren’t hat bad at all. Everybody had some moments of failure and we all laughed together. I started to relax. 

Then the writing exercise started. A lot of text was supposed to come out. For me this was an easy task since text and writing are my core knowledge and skills. What the message of the text is, that’s a whole other story. After the rehearsals we were supposed to write more on different themes that we had chosen and put it all in a joint folder. At home I decided not to put any pressure on myself regarding this project. This was supposed to be fun, we came here to play! If I try to write something especially nice and serious, I know the text will be full of fake artistic flum which nobody does anything with. I decided to play around with different genres and finally saved some pieces in the folder: a poem, a part of a fairytale, a rap, a suburb-mom’s everyday life, some dreams I remembered and a review of Kannelmäki.

The time schedule for the whole Rapitative project was tight. I thought there was going to be another writing session, but I was wrong. From all the saved texts, the best bits were taken and music was composed to them right away. Then the real rehearsals started. While staring at the sheet music in the middle of all the musicians, I noticed that the music theory studies I had done some thirty years ago only helped in knowing when the melody went up and when it went down. Luckily the people from the National Theatre were there and acted interpreters between me and the musicians. As a shower singer I have given many emotional performances, but there no bar-counting was needed. Sometimes during the rehearsals I felt like I was in the middle of a square meeting held in a foreign language. Suddenly someone said that it was my turn to go and practice. On the way home I felt like I was floating high up in the air. The contrast was large when I stepped into our hallway and I got back to the noisy family life. 

Bit by bit, the songs started to shape. Some of my texts I read myself and some ended up to be told by other participants. In the middle of work days I could start thinking about one of the songs that were in the making, and during the evenings when I was supposed to focus on my examination project, the only thing I could think about was Rapitative. It also felt strange to rehearse the show at home when all my family members were there, I wanted my own space. Once we split up the family for different events and I got to have a one-on-one reading session with Anni from the National Theatre. The microphone was missing one leg but we managed to have it put up properly with the help of my sofa in the living room. Then I read the text in the microphone while staring into our white wall. I felt like I was reading press releases from KELA with a monotonous voice and I didn’t get any energy in my voice at all. One text started to get some warmth when I changed it to spoken language and imagined that I was reading it to my friends. The next text needed an imagined strict and serious audience to work. So, in that fantasy audience sat my mother and Jan Vapaavuori. And see, the text got its needed drive.

Suddenly October had arrived and the performances started. It was amazing to experience so many different performing places. Kannelkrouvi in Kannelmäki, restaurant Willihanhi in Malminkartano, the Stage in Kanneltalo and as a cherry on the top, the foyer of the second balcony at the National Theatre. For experienced professionals of art it can be hard to see what all can cause nervousness for a beginner. But we tried to make the fears visible and tackle the problematic parts. We practiced how to walk out on the stage and how to walk off. Luckily the microphones and other technology were managed by professionals. Once at Kanneltalo, I had to take the microphone from the stand myself and it resulted in my pulling it so hard that it hit me in my mouth. The sound must have been led and it may have gotten out to the audience, but since there was no blood I contained the show like nothing ever happened. In the back of the audience, behind my cheering friends, I also saw my critical imaginary friends. My mother and Vapaavuori did not give me full points, but whatever!

Rapitative also got to the Yle program Puoli seitsemän! FiBO’s executive director Laura Kajander and Karolina Lamroth were interviewed, and of course there were also clips from the show. The Rapitative-parts are in the beginning and the end of the program. (The program can be seen until autumn 2021.) Photo: Astor Fiestas. 

The most nervous night was the closing night of Rapitative, the last show. My family was sitting in the front row and my 10-year-old was grinning at me all evening at an arm’s length. As an encore, the whole crew performed a surprise act by singing Happy Birthday. The surprise was perfect, the target got almost totally stunned! When Rapitative was over, all the participants gathered for a short farewell. Then someone left for another gig, some went out to the bar, and I hurried home to my birthday kid. But my family was waiting for me in the street. When I got through the door I heard my children screaming lyrics from the show: ”BUT SHOULD IT ACTUALLY BE ENOUGH OF MENTAL RECREATION FOR A SUBURB-MOM!!!” 

I can only say that Rapitative was very good mental recreation for a suburb-mom! The participation in the project was a very special experience. It was wonderful to meet people of different ages and work together. There we were, normal people and musicians and artists together. I got to throw away my inner critic and fully immerse myself in the project. I managed to perform in a way that I was enjoying it, almost relaxed. I also managed to trust the process even though I wasn’t in charge of everything and everything didn’t go exactly how I would have imagined them to. It didn’t matter. Everything went just right. Due to the Covid-situation, the audience sizes were small. I hope that Rapitative will be available on the internet so that all my friends that didn’t get to be part of the live performances would get the chance to see our great show. And yes, if a similar project or another interesting art project comes across, I will definitely join!

Karolina Lamroth

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