Mart Kivastik


He has written novels, short stories, screenplays and newspaper articles. He started writing plays in 1990s and quickly became one of the most produced playwrights in Estonia. His plays are often called picturesque and the best-known of them belong to a so-called artist trilogy. The protagonists in these historical plays are the significant personalities of Estonian art of the 20th Century – Konrad Mägi in Portrait of a Freezing Artist, Eduard Wiiralt in Wiiralt’s Hell and Elmar Kits in the monologue play Kits With Violin, and a Fishing Line. In these texts Kivastik bends the history but never truly contradicts the truth. He does not aim for documental reality but daringly shows the drinking, affairs and relation to authorities – all of the downsides of day-to-day existence for an aspiring artist in Paris. These descriptions evoke the existential questions about purpose, freedom and competition in life. The plays are the satirical self-reflection of art through theatre. In addition to plays about history (the above-mentioned and The Soldier, The Hero) Kivastik also writes so-called small plays (The Servant, Peeter and Erik) which have been said to have the wholeness of a poem. The text is very palatable, and not only on a vernacular level. These plays about people betrayed by destiny and their coming to terms with it in a comically bittersweet manner have the heightened sense of figurativeness and create complete, yet unexplainable atmosphere.

Kivastik has won the Friedebert Tuglas’s Award for best short story in 1999 and 2015, Eduard Vilde’s Literaru Award in 2002, annual prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for collection of plays in 2000 and for Portrait of a Freezing Artist in 2004.


Translated plays:

1997 Peeter and Erik (Peeter ja Erik) – English

1999 Greetings, Leena! (Õnne, Leena!) – German

2003 The Servant (Teener) – English, Finnish, German, Russian

2004 Portrait of a Freezing Artist (Külmetava kunstniku portree) – English

2005 Savonarola (Savonarola tuleriit) – English, Russian

2005 The Hell (Põrgu wärk) – English, Russian

2007 The Hero (Kangelane) – Latvian

2008 Our Father which Art (Meie isa, kes sa oled) – English, Russian

2014 The View (Vaade) – English