The Interview with the Writer and the Director of “Startup”, a Theatrical Play by Estonian Theatre NO99

I recently found that the estonian theatre NO99 has produced a theatrical play titled “Startup”. As appropriate to any decent startup, the entire setup of the show looks rather cool and innovative. Below are some author’s thoughts I was curious to know about, and the listing of the business ideas the professional actors have came up during the improvizational on-stage brainstorming performance.

The concept and setup of the play is rather cool. According to the web page of the play Startup, (hic!) you can order the wake-up call from the theatre, the performed starts 8:15 in the mornings, and it lasts for 1 hour and 20 minutes. There are four characters on stage, who are looking for a new bright idea each morning.

With the permission from the Author of the play, the outcome listing of all the ideas from previous mornings is copied from the play’s web page and translated into english below (scroll to the end of the page). Feel free to comment, which of those ideas you recognize have been implemented somewhere? I think I have heard somebody has implemented the “God’s phone hot-line” and the “district of the elderly” somewhere before. Can you add your cool ideas to this list, that you think somebody should make happen?

Interview with the Author

I got pretty curious about how the masterminds behind the scenes came up to the idea of the show and what further plans they have. I asked couple of questions from Mr. Mart Kase, the Writer and Director of the play. Here come the responses.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of the play?

A: The continuos talks about economic recession and the people’s sour faces started to get on my nerves. It is rather obvious, that mere failure-analyzis and whining never helps anybody. You have to flood everything with positive attitude. So, I realized there is a need for enthusiastic start, not clamming up.

On the other hand, it is still a time where people at several old purviews (like media, advertising, exchanges etc.) experience shrivel. At the same time new models emerge. Better adopters with open minds are successful in this.

And what matters most, inventing and fantasizing is always fun – think about how and what else there could be in life, limitless fantasy. So, the idea emerged to produce a play that encourages people into vigilance and action.

One friend suggested a good place for hosting the show. The other friend recommended that such kind of theatre must be done in the morning. That’s how we ended up with 8:15 AM.

The actors are Kristel Leesmend, Jaak Prints, Bert Raudsep and Gert Raudsep. All the ideas are created by the characters personified by the actors. They go onto stage and spell out their thoughts they have in their heads in this specific morning. Each performance is different. Sometimes the ideas are bright, the other time the necessarily warm contact with the audience is not achieved.

Q: Can we expect some sequel like “First Sale”, “Pitching for Investors” or something else startupish idyllic?

A: The topics of “Pitching for Investors”, “Selling Your Ideas to Others” or things like that would be very good topics. However, it would be much harder to do than brainstorming ideas. Ideas on their own actually won’t matter much. Execution of those matters. If we find a suitable angle or enough information or success stories, then producing a sequel might become realistic. At the same time, we need to realize we are professional people of theatre and culture, talking about stuff that we know very little about, and we can’t take a serious stance that we are now teaching others.

Q: For how long do you plan to run the show?

A: We performed 8 times during May and June. It will be performed in 6 mornings during September. I don’t know yet what happens then. We are dreaming about some tour in small towns of Estonia. Performing the play in those at 8:15 AM in the morning would be rather punk. At the moment those thoughts are on hold due to shortage of finances and time. It is possible that we perform again in Tallinn in Spring 2010. Will see. There is nothing certain at the moment.

Q: How does the public interest look? Tickets are sould out?

A: Although there has been some sceptics, questioning whether people would really come into theatre at 8:15 AM, all the tickets to the performances in Spring were completely sold out. The auditorium is not big, fitting 100 watchers for each performance. The tickets to the performances in September came out three days ago and ca one third of them are already sold out. There is enough interest. We have seen the positive impact on people who have come to the show in groups together, before the beginning of their business day.

Here is a also a link to the blog post where I have collected press critics and blog posts from watchers. [Asko Seeba: these are in estonian language, but you could try google translator on it.]

The List of Ideas

Here is the list of the ideas from previous mornings of the performance, copied from the play’s web page with the permission by Author, and translated into english (only couple are left out that are too estonian cultural-embedded word-plays or I just didn’t figure what they reasonably might translate into). Lots of the ideas below are of course pretty funny as they are product of the actors in a playful mood. But hey, this thing has to be fun in the end! In between the lines you’ll find some pretty interesting ideas that make sense as well :), and when you do, then the goal has been achieved.

The list:

    1. Kindergarten kids exchange program
    2. Ultrafluid for flowers
    3. Teddy bear service
    4. Me in another city
    5. Animals sports games
    6. Beer machines
    7. Domestic ghost
    8. Honest feedback service
    9. Fridge cleaning service
    10. Universal battery
    11. Spray butter
    12. Sneeze eliciting device
    13. Pet “public house”
    14. Drink buddy rent
    15. Party info hotline
    16. Rollerblade and motorcycle taxi
    17. Chip inside a person, that informs about changes in organism (helps to obviate cancer, but also simply to know, when it is time to pay a visit to dentist)
    18. Pet (animal/bird) in freedom (freepet)
    19. Shit-scythe
    20. Audiobackgrounds for reading books
    21. 5 AM discotheque
    22. Funeral bus
    23. Ones boat
    24. Hairdresser-GP-dentist-physiotherapist
    25. Carrier pigeon (a human)
    26. Grandma’s yarn (knitwear store or something)
    27. Order yourself a poet/sportsman/actor
    28. Public transportation for smokers
    29. Carreer advisory in kindergartens
    30. Wifi-rabbit – where is a rabbit, there is a wifi
    31. Cinema hall, as in art’s hall
    32. Soap opera for language inepts – TV-format, international, watchers can have a healthy laugh
    33. Houses with cabriolet roofs
    34. Home doughnut machine
    35. Gods phone hot-line
    36. Magnet for plastics
    37. Self-renewing newspaper
    38. Universal washing aid (like soap, but for everything: dishes, hands, laundry, surfaces)
    39. Talking traffic lights
    40. Virtual jogging on city streets
    41. At the door of laundry house
    42. Police-locker
    43. Toilet voices
    44. Tooth-paste in the tube of liquid soap
    45. Disdrict of the elderly (billions-project)
    46. Lessons aid (center of the private teachers)
    47. Mosquito decoys (they come to the party and keep mosquitoes at them, i.e. they take the fire)
    48. Tourist day
    49. Sandbeach in the middle of the downtown
    50. Day as an animal
    51. Phantom bus (no windows, you can deal with your stuff in the bus)
    52. Santa Claus is coming, presents already in the bag (store, catalogue)
    53. Edible icecream stick
    54. Dog stays puppy
    55. Portable dumbbell
    56. Meetings flashback machine
    57. Moving trees
    58. Furniture store “Nostalgy” – the groomed soviet furniture
    59. Pan-bathtub
    60. Motorized knife
    61. Journal for deads
    62. Water-melon sized apples
    63. Batteryhause
    64. House on the tree
    65. Artificial sun
    66. Saucer that never gets dirty
    67. Doghouse for cats
    68. Bridge over the town
    69. Self-braking road
    70. Mood stickers
    71. Heel brake
    72. Beer that won’t make you fat
    73. “Pumps” – gives a “pumps” if somebody says an abusive word
    74. Intelligent pillow, blanket
    75. Bacteria that eat plastic
    76. Segway type of stairways
    77. Jazz-radio
    78. Mind-powered switch
    79. Colour-bomb
    80. 2-eye TV
    81. Cartoon-camera
    82. Pills with which you have a flashback of a beautiful moment
    83. Paper that neither burn nor get dirty
    84. Pills “poo won’t stink”
    85. Human tail accessory
    86. Dream camera
    87. Spray of the smell of a fresh bread
    88. Dogs boots
    89. Underground house
    90. Warms that live in pipes and eat hair
    91. Helmet-heardresser
    92. New universal plug
    93. Quitarola, i.e. mechanical quitar
    94. Deodorants “sawdust” and “fresh lawn”
    95. Estonian hat
    96. Books writing machine
    97. Fundamental-eco
    98. Wide-applicable balloon for one person
    99. Bird-antenna
    100. Taste-converter (cabbage – candy)
    101. Suicide hole (lava in the bottom)
    102. 1 cm sized cat
    103. Museum of old houses
    104. Creme that makes you bald – “radioctiv”
    105. Chewing gum that won’t lose its taste, lasts for 5 h
    106. Car doors that close without any audible noise
    107. Computer game “Estonian independece war” on-line version
    108. Robotic “third hand”
    109. Teddy bears with the shape of blackbeetle, louse, bloodsucker, tink, bedbug, ebola etc.
    110. White-board, black chalk for those who want something different
    111. Slipper straps that let sun through etc.
    112. Car that changes colours
    113. Retirement home for elderly mules
    114. Silent booth on the street
    115. Radiator in the post and in the sofa
    116. Universal stop (15-minutes pause, once a week)
    117. Universal ball (basket-, foot-, hand-, volley-)
    118. Tingler
    119. Permanent life
    120. Glasses with which you see the presence of a person and how passionate she/he is about life
    121. Scissors for cutting strips
    122. Long-awaited dog-skis
    123. Non-narrative TV
    124. Institute of making up and reusing languages
    125. Self-sharpening knife
    126. Intensive sleep-pills (6 h equals 15 minutes)
    127. Toaster that adds butter to the bread
    128. Bite-counter
    129. Design-barn
    130. Robot-body
    131. Hidden telly – feels like book-shelf, turn it around and it is a telly
    132. Rabbit- and bear-shaped light-switches
    133. Chair with invisible wheels (weels, ball-bearings, invisible, better mobility)
    134. Half-shorter and half-cheaper cigarettes
    135. 360 degrees photocamera
    136. Solar-battery powered fridge to the no-electricity countryside
    137. Coffee-cup with wifi
    138. Cat-dog
    139. Sadness pill
    140. One-second buttoner
    141. There is an imaginary friend in the ear
    142. Tree grows into earth
    143. Coffee-cup with built-in sifter for coffee grinding
    144. School for learning how to become estonian
    145. Candle kit “Estonia” (blue, black, white)
    146. Food that absorbs via skin
    147. Invisible tape
    148. Firefighting seagull
    149. Drinking cubicle for the lonly
    150. Bees on the roof of the towerhouse
    151. Talking flower-pot
    152. Hay-clock (clock in the middle of a field, air-passangers see it)
    153. Babybike (bike + cart, mother can ride freely)
    154. Boxy water-melon, L-shaped water-melon, U-shaped water-melon
    155. Post-catalogue / web page for mapping good locations of mushrooms and berries (montly fee ca 25 estonian kroons) + information on locations of fly-mushroom (more expensive, 180 kroons)
    156. Rotten egg detector
    157. Breeded city-doves who eat only dog poo
    158. Construction service (Pisa tower, Eiffel tower, White House)
    159. Hootch machine in throat (fifter-like) – water, juice, lemonade go in and hootch comes out
    160. Ethical beep
    161. Animals hatching from seeds
    162. Chocolate burger
    163. Trash to the outer space
    164. Dog pizza
    165. Auxiliary seagull (hatches orphaned eggs)
    166. Babies drowsing platform
    167. Dress that changes colour
    168. Shoelaces binding device
    169. Extension of the hand’s touch sensitivity
    170. Pillow with on-demand dreams
    171. Rolling cactus
    172. Cat with a turn signal
    173. Walking spring
    174. Invisible pleasure boat
    175. Ready-made makeup
    176. Polite traffic signs
    177. Washing machine for small creatures
    178. Direct link with the nature
    179. Climate shade
    180. Blinker on the top of the head of a person, showing that the person is in a hurry
    181. Mr. Wolf – man who knows everything, from whom you can ask everything
    182. Lie detector development
    183. Charger of battery of human
    184. Stop any production
    185. Secret research group on rain-forest matters
    186. Ego-solvent
    187. Alarm of routine
    188. Hearing aid of concience
    189. Dust alarm
    190. Animal money

So, what do you think? Did you find your next venture from here? Or do you propose your own additions to this list? Do you know about any of those above implemented somewhere? Add your comment on this below.


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