Art & Artists

Artist InterviewDavid Kozma on Storytelling – on Stage and Through Sound


David Kozma
(he/him) is a multi-hyphenate Romanian-Hungarian actor-director, art advisor for Arts Promotion Center Finland, as well as the former artistic director of the Post Theatre Collective. Engaging in film, TV, and theatre, he dedicates a significant portion of his work to applied theatre, specifically targeting activities geared towards immigrants. In 2019, alongside collaborators, David co-founded New Theatre Helsinki, a hub for intercultural endeavours in the performing arts, addressing communities frequently overlooked on the Finnish institutional stage.

The Post Theatre Collective produced The Middle Eastern Bloc podcast as part of the Together Alone 2.0 program in 2022 and launched its third season at the Together Again Festival in the autumn of 2023. Commissioned by the Finnish-Norwegian Cultural Institute, the third season brought together Norway-based Nelly Winterhalder and Finland-based Lois Armas – both writers – as well as sound designer Saku Kämäräinen. The whole season was directed by David himself.

Helmi Korhonen joined David for a wintry walk around Hakaniemi, where the pair discussed David’s approaches to directing auditory theatre experiences, turning frustration into creation, and making space for diverse voices on stage.

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Helmi Korhonen: You work as an actor, director, and artistic director, wearing many ‘professional hats’. How do you balance and switch between your various roles within the Post Theatre Collective and your other artistic endeavors?

David Kozma: “I enjoy multitasking, I think. It’s unfortunately also a necessity. I have to create the work for myself, so I often do what I create. I think being an actor also helps in becoming many other things. Sometimes I think of all my other positions as acting roles so it’s easier to live with the stress that a director’s work often demands.”

HK: What’s your creative process like?

DK: “I don’t know if I have a creative process, I’m very instinctual. I get an idea and I develop it into a project and eventually into an artistic outcome.”


Speaking of projects that eventually developed into artistic outcomes – I’d love to hear more about your project for Together Again. The Middle Eastern Bloc podcast focused on stories about the pandemic through the eyes of people belonging to cultural and linguistic minorities living outside their birth countries. Could you share more how the podcast came to fruition?

DK: “The Middle Eastern Bloc came out as a reaction to this global frustration brought on by the pandemic. I was personally very frustrated because I didn’t know when or how I could present my upcoming work anymore – this was in the spring of 2020 after all. Around this time, I noticed an open call for script- and playwrights from the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, only to realize it was once again open only to Finnish speaking writers.

So to kill my own frustration, I announced an open call for stories about that horrible time were living in for play- and scriptwriters with foreign backgrounds who were residing in Finland. Happily, I received a home residency grant from the Kone Foundation which allowed me to carry out and create the first season of the Middle Eastern Bloc.

The second season happened as part of The Finnish Cultural Institutes’ Together Alone 2.0 program, then the third came along as an invitation from the Finnish-Norwegian Cultural Institute. We knew that we wanted to have a writer from both countries. Lois Armas and Nelly Winterhalder were found and they then came up with the beautiful story of Taimi and Harald.

The name Middle Eastern Bloc actually came from a word game. I’m originally from Transylvania, and Transylvania was kind of in the middle of the Eastern Bloc, aka the Communist or Socialist Bloc. For some reason I wanted to bring out the frustration of an individual originally from the middle of the Eastern Bloc being stuck in Scandinavia.”


Your aforementioned podcast, as well as Post Theatre Collective’s R.E.A.D festival are both theatrical endeavors that focus on the human voice as a main conveyor of emotion. How do you approach directing theatre that mostly focuses on sound? Are there any special considerations that inform your work as a director?

DK: “I always think that if the story is interesting, it doesn’t really matter which form it’s told in. For me, the audio experience is something that comes from my childhood. I vividly remember evenings when the radio was on, broadcasting a weekly radio theatre program. There was a certain kind of magic in the soundscapes built around the voices of the actors. I think these moments stayed with me, and as a director, I often notice that I want to minimize the action and showcase how much of the performance can be carried out solely via voice and sound.

The reading performances that we started organizing in 2014 felt more like a game. How could we show interesting plays written around the world with minimum effort? The answer was reading drama. To our surprise, at some point an audience member walked up to us after a reading and told that this was the only form in which they could watch theatre from then on. In a normal theatre show, there are so many disturbing elements, like light, music, set design, costumes, etc. that the story itself may disappear.

Audio experiences boost the imagination in a special way. And our imagination is almost always the best visualizer.”

The Post Theatre Collective consists of creatives with international, multidisciplinary backgrounds, and your focus is on creating a platform for communities that are not represented on the Finnish institutional stage. What is the significance of creating theatre from this standpoint for you?

DK: “I believe in the saying that theatre is a mirror of the society we live in. I want to tell the story of ‘now’ through theatre. I believe that to be the best way to relate to the world we live in.

We have many great cultural institutions who constantly tell the stories of the majority, where the minority perspectives are left out. As an outsider, I feel I have the responsibility to tell the story of ‘the other’, especially if ‘the other’ is constantly ignored or exotified.”


How has taking part in the Together Again project informed your artistic practice? What’s coming next for Post Theatre Collective, and how has being part of Together Again influenced or informed your next steps?

DK: “This project was a great opportunity to collaborate with two completely unknown writers. I learned a lot about trust and commitment. To see how a project can come together without ever having met before, it was just mind-blowing.

Together Again also enabled the Middle Eastern Bloc to continue. This has opened so many new possibilities for us. Already with this season, we’ve started experimenting with adding visual material to the audio files to see what comes out of it. This sort of audiovisual storytelling is a new approach to us, and I’m very curious to see where it will take us.”

A guiding principle in the Together Again -project has been the concept of togetherness. What does togetherness mean to you?

DK: “Togetherness is something I’m craving for. Togetherness is community; a way of sharing the good and the bad moments with one other. In my mind, togetherness is the opposite of this individualist society we live in. Oftentimes, it feels almost like a dream that I wish it could become reality.”



Find out more about David Kozma and the Post Theatre Collective behind the links. For more on the Middle Eastern Bloc -project, pair this article with the Finnish-Norwegian Cultural Institute’s interview with writers Nelly Winterhalder and Lois Armas.