Ilokivi Venue brings people together

Text: Anni Pajari | Pictures: Tiina Salminen, Visual Friday

Ilokivi Venue is especially known as a club and concert venue, but it also functions as a living room for students during the day and a meeting place for various communities in the evening. 

Once a month at Venue, people gather to play games at Game Night. The games are selected according to the interests of the participants, and card games, board games and console games have been played in the past. 

Aleksi Tolppi has been organizing Game Nights since the beginning. The long-time game enthusiast already knew people interested in gaming, so he gathered friends together and founded a Discord channel related to the topic. 

The regular group was born when the guys started bringing their friends along, but new faces are more than welcome to join. It’s not mandatory to play either, but you can also come to have a coffee or just hang out. 

“You don’t have to register in advance, but usually we discuss in advance in Discord which games each person will bring. Older visitors are happy to help if newcomers are interested in trying new games,” Aleksi explains. 

Everything from console games to card games

Venue is suitable for playing games, as the space allows groups to be divided according to the games. There is enough space, tables and chairs for the players to play in groups. There are also sockets and an old tube television for console players. 

“We work voluntarily, open the doors and people bring the games and sometimes their friends along with them,” Aleksi describes. 

Aleksi has been playing different games since he was a child. His personal favorites are fighting games played on consoles and his latest interest is the Flesh and Blood trading card game. Aleksi started to play more competitively during his teenage years, when he went for tournaments around Finland, and later also organized them. 

Aleksi says that he has made a lot of friends through playing. Typically, he first meets new people on gaming forums and Discord and later face-to-face at gaming events. Even when someone loses, they don’t throw the controllers against the wall on a game night, but in a group of players, community is the most important thing. 

“Some game trips have mostly been excuses to meet friends around Finland.” 

Dare to put it all in

Jyväskylä student theater is an amateur theater founded in 1960, which has a long history with JYY and Ilokivi. Even today, JYT’s headquarters is at Venue, where the theater group practices on Sundays. According to chairperson Leo Heinämäki, a particularly good feature of the space is the opportunity to use both the floor level and the actual stage for performances. 

Leo’s own theatrical interest was sparked in middle school theater classes. When he moved to Jyväskylä to study, he was interested in reviving an old hobby. Around the same time, JYT held entrance exams, and he was selected as an actor. It was easy to join the group right away through the new members’ production, which the newcomers worked together for many months. 

“You have to try to create a certain kind of connection with other actors, in order to dare to put it all in together and test your own limits. That kind of thing brings people closer to each other,” Leo describes. 

You can try anything

This spring’s production “Vierailuni italialaisessa kodissa” is, according to its director Panda Ilén, a comedy with jokes after jokes. At the time of the interview, the premiere was a couple of days ago. 

“The auditorium was almost full; the audience was very responsive and laughed along. The audience’s good reception was also reflected in the actors’ performance on stage,” says Panda. 

Panda has been an active member of JYT for years. According to her, the best thing about JYT is the encouraging atmosphere, where you are encouraged to try out your own ideas and talents in different roles. 

“I probably would never have ended up writing or directing if JYT had not created a good framework for trying different things.” 

It is possible to join the theater’s activities through entrance exams organized in the fall. Most of the applicants hope to get on stage, but there is also a need for experts in, for example, technology, costuming and masking. JYT also organizes open courses, where you can study directing or screenwriting, for example. 

Organizing a festival together

This year is exceptional for theatre, as JYT is hosting the national student theater festival, which will take place in Jyväskylä. Student theaters from all over Finland participate in the event with their own performances. In addition to the Venue, there are performances in, for example, the university’s main ballroom and in Villa Rana. 

Festival arrangements and spring production have kept the chairperson busy during the beginning of the year. However, everything has progressed as planned with the group. 

“I’m really proud of my colleagues. You can see that they have a great desire to make this event happen,” Leo says.


The Venue GAMENIGHT Facebook page talks about the upcoming game nights.

Tulin, Näin, Sytyin student theater festival 5-7 May 2023 in Jyväskylä. JYT announces upcoming entrance exams on their Instagram page @jyvaskylanylioppilasteatteri.

“Some game trips have mostly been excuses to meet friends around Finland.” 

Aleksi Tolppi

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