The Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC) introduces a new generation of Nordic playwrights in a series of staged readings representing Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands. SATC is a collective of theater artists founded to provide Scandinavian perspectives through the new generation of Scandinavian playwrights and theater artists.
SATC presents contemporary plays and inventive takes on the classics from the Nordic region, which includes Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. SATC is committed to strengthening the relationship between Scandinavia and the United States through collaborations and interdisciplinary artistic exchange that examine and challenge the cultural status quo.
Who’s Who/Kuka Kukin On
Written by Juha Lehtola & Kari Hotakainen (Finland, 2009) and directed by Kathleen Amshoff. “It’s very nice to hear your opinions, but put a lid on it. Let me assure you, however, that I value your opinions: I just don’t want to hear them.”
Särkijärvi, an archive editor, is given the task of interviewing Severi Petäjä, the wisest man in Finland. For many years, however, Petäjä hasn’t said anything original. But then it turns out that Särkijärvi is in fact Fjodor Dostojevski, the 182 year-old writer, and now it’s his turn to answer the burning questions of the day and show Finland the way forward. Meanwhile, Jontte, a tech support guy, is trying to help Vladimir Putin, who cannot find Chechnya. Rinkinen, a managing editor, is also lost, trying to find himself in the left pocket of a sweatsuit.
This razor light and sharp-as-a-feather contemporary comedy depicts a society trying to find its place, desperately wanting some genius to reveal the truth—as long as it’s the truth they want to hear. Hotakainen and Lehtola’s penetrating observations of the present day are couched in humor so twisted that it begins to look straight when compared to the world around us.
About the playwrights:
Juha Lehtola (b. 1966) writes intelligent and thoughtful comedies about contemporary life, tinged with melancholy. In addition to plays and theatrical adaptations, Lehtola’s oeuvre also includes translations and television screenplays. In 1995, Lehtola received the Finnish Critics’ Award and in 1998 the Young Arts in Finland Award. Lehtola won the Venla Award for Excellence in Television, in 2003, for the film Woman in the Meadow/Nainen kedolla, and in 2007, for the TV mini-series Hunger for Love/Rakkauden nälkä.
Lehtola’s first play Mind Speak/Mielen kieli (1994) examines people’s goals and the ways they become dependent upon one another. Its main characters are an astronaut forgotten in space and a woman traveling around the globe. Please, Come Back Girls!/Tulkaa tytöt takaisin (1998) and Exit Laughing/Loppuun asti lystikkäät (2001) depict complex family relationships and people who cannot get unstuck from each other. Spinning Othello/Othellohyrrä (2001) sets Shakespeare’s tragedy in the contemporary world of business, turning it into tragicomedy.
Kari Hotakainen (b. 1957) is one of Finland’s most significant and popular novelists, whose work includes poetry, children’s literature, and drama for the stage, television, and radio. He writes about deadly serious people who come into conflict with the demands of the world around them. Hotakainen is especially known for his ironic humor, as well as his rich and rhythmic language. Hotakainen’s best known and most successful novel, Trench Road/Juoksuhaudantie won the Finlandia Prize in 2002 and the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2004. This story about a man who tries to bring his family back together by buying a single-family home has thus far been translated into 13 languages. It was made into a movie in 2004 by Veikko Aaltonen. Taking its cues from science fiction, Hotakainen’s novel Bronks (1993) depicts what happens when the well-to-do and marginalized members of society crash.
Hotakainen’s first play, It’s Good to Go Missing/Hukassa on hyvä paikka (2000) is a children’s musical, with music composed by a leading Finnish musical artist, Iiro Rantala. It tells the story of a single-parent father, his inordinately strong son, and their life in an apartment in one of Helsinki’s seedier suburbs. Hotakainen’s Nordic Drama Award-winning play, Border Crossing/Punahukka (2005), is a comedy about an ordinary middle-aged man who finds religion, along with mercy and forgiveness. A dramatization of Hotakainen’s novel, The Human Lot/Ihmisen osa (2011), is a harsh and witty story about a button merchant’s family. It describes changes in society and working life where nowadays, instead of buttons, images and intangible things are sold. The novel (Le part de l’homme) was awarded with the Prix Courrier International in France as the best translated book in 2011.