Dirty Duckling

Dirty Duckling is a puppet theatre group from Turku, Finland. The group was founded in 2006 and it consists of five puppet theatre professionals.

Dirty Duckling is one of the most active current puppet theatre groups. Since 2008 it has produced shows full-time and non-stop. In the words of Eeva Kauppinen, a reporter for the newspaper Kaleva: Dirty Duckling is the hottest of the hot. In its fairly brief existence it has produced ambitious shows for both adults and children. In addition to that the group members have been active participants in co-productions with other theatres and individual artists. The group uses many visiting artists for the work to remain fresh.

The Dirty Ducklings do not have premises of their own to perform at. Therefore performances have taken place at different stages which among others are; TEHDAS –Theatre, Barker –Theatre, Puppet Theatre Mundo and Adventure Park in Turku, Valve-Stage in Oulu, and Theatre Naamio ja Höyhen in Helsinki. In addition to that the group has had visiting performances at such puppet theatre and theatre festivals as Oulu Children Theatre Festival in 2009 and 2010, Barents Festival in 2009, Hurraa! –Children Theatre Festival in 2009 and Helsinki Festival in 2010.

The performances are created and practiced in the premises of Puppet Studio Ltd (puppet theatre society in Turku) the members of which also the ducklings are. The dirty ducklings also fight for the visibility of the whole field by organizing puppet theatre soirees in bars and events in Turku.

Critics have described the performances and the performers of Dirty Duckling using the following adjectives among others: sincere, absurd, open-minded, sympathetic, unreserved, superficial, surreal, dazzling, wonderful, talented, dada, courageous, sensitive, hysterical, untouchable, exhilarating.


Merja Pöyhönen

Merja Pöyhönen (born 1980) is a puppetry artist from Turku. Mostly a director, sometimes a scriptwriter and gladly a performer. Pöyhönen graduated from Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2005, where she got her Degree in Puppetry Theatre. Since then she has been working full-time with puppetry. After being two years on an acting attachment in the Mukamas theatre in Tampere, Pöyhönen studied physical theatre for a year at the famous Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and then moved to Turku to become a freelance puppetry artist. Pöyhönen has worked actively in the puppet theatre group Dirty Duckling during its short but intensive existence. In addition to that Pöyhönen has collaborated with other puppetry- and other artists from Turku by i.e directing the collaboration performance between Turku City Theatre and Turku University of Applied Sciences Arts Academy, Urpo and Turpo in the Wild West (2009) and John-Eleanor (2011), a production by HOX Company and TEHDAS theatre. Pöyhönen has won the first price in the National puppetry competition twice (Kullervo 2005, Die Cut Scrap and Recap About the Distances Between Planets 2010) and in 2011 The Finnish Critics Association awarded her work with a Kritiikin Kannukset Award (Criticism spurs), that is given every year for “an artist who has made a breakthrough or a comparable kind of action”. The criticism committee who granted the price said: “Puppet theatre has for long been an undervalued art form in Finland. Through ambitious and trained artists like Merja Pöyhönen, the field has started in the 21st century to appear as unprejudiced and innovative. An art form that bravely uses different kinds of techniques and to which subjects mattering society aren´t unfamiliar. ”

Antti-Juhani Manninen

Antti-Juhani Manninen (born 1977) is an artist from Turku, Finland. He works primarily on the fields of live and sound art as well as puppet theatre. He constantly collaborates with artists from other fields of art, and lightly floats from an art form into another when needed. Year 2015 Manninen works in the boards of Arte artists’ association and TEHDAS Theatre, and directs and facilitates the activities of Art Space Breathing.

Lotta Virtanen

Lotta Virtanen (b.1984) became interested in puppet theatre, when she realized it has unlimited possibilities to combine all different forms of art. She has work experience in performing, puppet building, dramaturgy and technical realization.

As a multi-talent in the field Lotta thrives best on stage. Performing attracts her with excitement and tension, the impossibility and possibility of repetition, the interaction with the public and colleagues, entertaining and simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and, of course, overcoming oneself - every time.

She is inspired by everyday anomalies, art, epiphanies, poetry, fabrics, pop- and trash culture, using recycled materials, bright colors, and enthusiastic and happy people. In her work she wants to continue developing, learning new things, and spreading the word about the wonders of puppet theatre.

Anna-Kaisa Väänänen

I´m a dirty duckling from the field of puppetry art, originally from Oulu but later moved to Turku. My history consists of a 4 year long education in Puppetry Theatre at Turku University of Applied Sciences (2001-2005) and specialized studies in directing at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. All kinds of tasks related to puppetry have become familiar during the years and depending on the day, I find it to be a blessing or a curse. These options are both the extremity and therefore the strength that pushes forward.

I have worked in many theatre productions of different sizes and in educational positions within puppetry art. In a world of definitions I would classify myself in the moment as a performer, since I have focused on that in the last few years. In addition to the Dirty Duckling I`ve guest in and worked with other theatre- and puppetry groups. It´s interesting to be challenged in directing, scripting and dramaturgy and my dream is to work more on these in the future.

Hilla Väyrynen

Hilla Väyrynen (s.1985), orginially from Oulu, got attracted to puppetry art by the desire to combine her visual arts- and theatre hobby. After starting her puppetry theatre studies in the Turku University of Applied Sciences Arts Academy in 2005, she discovered that she had come across an ambiguous field, which had wider borderlines and more unexplored terrain than imagined. She has worked with Dirty Duckling since 2010. In the sectors of puppetry, Hilla is especially interested in puppet building; in addition to the visual aesthetics, she is fascinated by technical solutions and the possibilities of material. Besides puppet theatre- and sometimes within- Hilla also makes music. Tienhaara (crossroad), her one women folk act, has performed since 2010.

Outi Herrainsilta

Outi Herrainsilta is about to finalize her studies in staging at Aalto University School of Art and Design, where she also does her studies in fashion designer. She got her Degree in Puppetry Theatre at Turku University of Applied Sciences Arts Academy in 2005.

Due to her studies, Outi has been absent from Dirty Duckling projects, but is looking forward to getting back on the field.

Outi is oriented especially in staging, puppetry building and fashion design, but is happy to work as a performer. She has i.e. stared as a set designer and fashion designer in the performance Hevoshullu (Horse enthusiast) at The Lappeenranta Theatre.

Pia Kalenius

[description by google translate:] Pia Kalenius sector is surrendered, innovative and crazy to do the work. He shuttled stage and workshop matter rejoicing dualism, which he was originally one of the reasons puppet art brought. Inventiveness, tenacity and humor are Kaleniuksen conclusion of the cornerstones. He is most at home on the stage with a doll or air, but also any kind of pondering and solving weirdness and construction are close to his heart. Kalenius is self-directed and self-willed, but works best with a group. He has been beaten to network, will be happy to work on the principle and the front and excited people, ihmettelemisestä, gigs, and to the fullest conclusion. Freelancer, graduated from Turku Arts Academy puppetry line 2003. Important milestones 2014: The old year's last day, egg, The Tempest, The Lord truncheon lusts, Uki-tugged at John, Eleanor, Snow Snow !, Aladdin, Puppet Studio, Hot Duckling, FACTORY Theatre, Vartsikka and Aura of Puppets ... will be continued.