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Pirkko Koski

Pirkko Kaarina Mirjami Koski
Born 22 December, 1941, Rural Municipality of Jyväskylä.

Librarianship qualification, 1963, University of Tampere.
Master of Political Science, 1964 (Literary History) and Master of Philosophy, 1980 (Comparative Literature, specialising in drama), University of Tampere.
Licentiate of Philosophy, 1989 (Comparative Literature, Drama), University of Turku.
Doctor of Philosophy (Theatre Studies) 1992, University of Helsinki.

Docent and Emerita 2008-, University of Helsinki.
Docent, School of Arts and Design 1998–2007.

Associate professor of Theatre Studies and Drama (fixed term) 1989–95, associate professor 1995–98 and professor 1998–2007, University of Helsinki.

Until 1979 librarian and research assistant for various employers; Acting director, Finnish Federation of Theatre Companies (3 years), 1977–84; Director, Theatre Museum 1981–88; theatre critic for Demari newspaper 1979–91

Publications, research projects and other academic activities
Research interests: Finnish theatre and theatre history, performance research and analysis, theatre and society

Awards and special achievements
Finnish Performing Arts, Gold Medal, 2001
First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland, 2002

Written by Pirkko Koski and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Theatre research became a lifestyle

In the broader field of the arts, theatre research is a small area of study, but nevertheless there would be so many interesting things to study that it is a struggle to stay within sensible limits. At present, few researchers are studying theatre. Areas overlap in one way or another: teaching and research, history and modern theatre, national theatre and cross-border phenomena, theory and data, practical work in the theatre and theatre research, etc. Focusing too narrowly on one topic is not a good idea; besides it is invigorating to consider several areas. I feel most at home studying Finnish theatre, including its history as well as current and past theatre performances. I often study theatre in its social context.

When I retired as Professor of Theatre Research, my desk was full of incomplete manuscripts, unfinished due to teaching, administration and other demands on my time. The feeling of freedom was wonderful – I finally had time to concentrate on my writing and completing my own research. The chance to sit at my desk during the day still feels luxurious. Even now, I am not fully used to being retired, and some of those incomplete manuscripts are still cluttering my desk. Indeed, as soon as I finish working on one project, I discover new areas of interest to research. Having more time has also unfortunately not helped me to choose between theatre history and performance analysis.

Despite these changes, my working method has remained much the same. Earlier I was in charge of a great many research and book projects, and I also worked as co-author on other people’s projects. Right after I retired, working on my own projects felt relaxing and I started writing a book about Finnish actors, for example.

Now I’m again excited to be participating in other projects alongside my own research, but being in charge is now someone else’s job. As before, I’m working on two different research topics: one is a history of the Finnish National Theatre during the 1970s and 1980s, interesting decades from the viewpoint of art and cultural politics. I also write on various phenomena in contemporary theatre which I find of interest.

Participants at the 1993 IFTR congress in Helsinki, on the front steps of the University Main Building.​

Written by Pirkko Koski.

Translated as coursework by Sara Jormakka, Saana Kallioinen, Tanja Koski, Suvi Lehikoinen, Tuomas Mäenpää, Emilia Mäkinen, Emma Niemi, Eerika Norja, Anu Piippo, Riina Vepsä, Saara Viitanen, Marilena Constantinou, Liisa Eloranta, Teemu Heikman, Marika Holmberg, Cecilia Ihatsu, Juliette Lempinen, Elviira Mattila, Sinimarja Niironen, Milla Rautio, Riikka-Liisa Salomaa, Sebastian Wandao & Elina Virros.

Revised by Nely Keinänen & John Calton.

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