Tag: drama

The final scene that Büchner never wrote

Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Authors, Drama

‘Fierce, stubborn sympathy for a weak, doomed person can be seen everywhere in Georg Büchner’s writing. It was the Leitmotiv of all his literary activity, just as the defense of freedom and justice was the motive for his political action.’ So wrote the poet Eeva-Liisa Manner in her essay, ‘The dramatic and historical Woyzeck’, published in the literary periodical Parnasso in 1962. Her first translation of Büchner’s famous play was published in the same issue. Ever since then, this unfinished last play by Georg Büchner has refused to leave Manner in peace. Altogether she has published three different Finnish translations of the work, most recently in 1987. But she was not content to leave it at that, for she also wrote a conclusion to the incomplete play, providing her own interpretation of Woyzeck’s final scene.

Georg Büchner’s contemporaries felt that his life, too, had been left unfinished. He was only twenty-three years old when he died in 1837 – ‘Ein unvollendet Lied’ (‘an unfinished song’), as Georg Herwegh wrote in a memorial poem dedicated to Büchner in 1841. In the eyes of his contemporaries, Büchner was a dramatist who, with his first play, Danton’s Death, had shown great promise which his early death prevented him from fulfilling. At the time, no one could imagine that the ‘almost finished play’ found among the writer’s posthumous works would provide the stimulus for naturalistic, expressionistic, and epic theatre, or that it would serve as the basis for one of the most important operas of the following century. More…

The Othello of Sand Alley

Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

Eeva-Liisa Manner’s Woyzeck is an independent ending to Georg Büchner’s fragmentary play. Introduction by Riitta Pohjola


(Dawn in the market square of Leipzig. A gallows looms, dimly visible in the distance. Brisk rumble of drums.)


What’s going on here?

1st MAN

They’re getting ready for an execution. Some villain’s going to be executed in public.




Franz Woyzeck. I guess you know him, the barber. More…

Kullervo’s story

Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Paavo Haavikko wrote this manuscript for the television series Rauta-aika (‘Age of iron’), broadcast in 1982. lt also appeared as a book in 1982, complemented by Kullervon tarina (‘Kullervo’s story’ ) which had been omitted from the original. The text follows the stories of the Kalevala, but they are given a new interpretation: the characters are demythologised, they resign themselves to their fates – they are like ourselves. These extracts are the final scenes in which incest, revenge and death appear in a slightly different guise from Kalevala, or Kivi’s Kullervo.

– Mother, on the road I met your daughter, who is my sister, and took her into my sleigh. She had broken one of her skis. Spring came in one day, the clouds in front of the moon tore themselves to shreds so that two moons passed in one night. Winter went, Spring came, I brought the sleigh back, and I slept on top of the sacks so that not a single grain or seed would be lost. It’s all in the sacks now, saved. The clouds tore off their clothes and washed them in the rivers of rain, and naked, in the dark, they waited for their clothes to dry, those clouds. They even darkened the moon, they would have killed it if they could have reached that far, as it spied on the cloud women who were washing the clothes they had taken off in the waters of heaven, and two moons passed in one night, Kullervo says to his mother, piling up lies like a little boy. Many words. More…


Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

An extract from the tragedy Kullervo (1864). Introduction by David Barrett
The plot of the Kullervo story as told in the Kalevala: Untamo defeats his brother Kalervo’s army, and Kalervo’s son Kullervo is born a slave. Untamo sells him as a young child to llmarinen whose wife, the Daughter of Pohjola, makes the boy a shepherd and bakes him a loaf with a stone inside it. Kullervo takes his revenge by sending home a flock of wild animals, instead of cattle, who tear her to pieces. He flees, and discovers that his parents and two sisters are alive on the borders of Lapland. He finds them, but one of his sisters is lost. Life in the family home is unhappy: Kullervo fails in all the tasks his father sets him. On his way home one day he finds a girl in the forest whom he abducts in his sledge and seduces. It turns out the girl is his lost sister, who drowns herself when she learns that Kullervo is her brother. Kullervo sets out to revenge himself on Untamo; he kills and destroys. When he returns home, he finds the house empty and deserted, goes into the forest and falls on his sword.

ACT II, Scene 3

Kalervo’s cottage by Kalalampi Lake. It is night-time. Kimmo, seated by a fire of woodchips, is mending nets. More…

Jouko Turkka’s factory of ideas

Issue 3/1986 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Jouko Turkka (born 1942) is a man of theatre by profession, not a writer. But according to him, all theatre people want to write: dramatic art is very transient, somehow one would like to immortalise one’s thoughts. ‘I want to destroy this virus’, he says in his book Aiheita (‘Themes’, 1983). ‘I don’t want future generations to waste their lives on this. – I have set down these “themes” of mine, in as simple a form as possible, just to show that I too have had a go at it. – Now I have got them off my chest, I need never write anything again.’

The following year Turkka published a novel, Kantelu oikeuskanslerille (‘A case for the Chancellor of Justice’), this year his play Hypnoosi (‘Hypnosis’) was performed at the Helsinki City Theatre; and this year, too, his play Lihaa ja rakkautta (‘Meat and love’) was performed in Gothenburg, Sweden. Turkka – theatre director, producer, former rector of the Theatre Academy (1983-85), where he is currently professor of theatre directing – evidently could not shake off the writing bug as easily as he had thought. More…

Contrapuntal dialogue

Issue 2/1985 | Archives online, Authors

Pirkko Saisio

Pirkko Saisio. Photo: Laura Malmivaara

Pirkko Saisio (born 1949) is the author of five novels and a number of plays. Her first novel, Elämänmeno (‘Way of life’), appeared in 1975, when she was a young actress just graduated from the Finnish Theatre School, appearing in rep at Rovaniemi Theatre. By the time her next novel, Sisarukset (‘Sibling’), was published in 1976, Saisio had moved back to her native Helsinki and was working as a freelance writer and actress.

In addition to three stage plays, she has also adapted three of her novels for stage or television: Elämänmeno was shown on television in 1978 and Sisarukset in 1980, and the KOM Theatre staged its own highly acclaimed interpretation of her novel Betoniyö (‘Concrete night’, 1981) in 1982. Last year Saisio published a new novel, Kainin tytär (‘Daughter of Cain’), whose absence from the Finlandia Prize shortlist astonished many critics. In March her play Hävinneiden legenda (‘Legend of the lost’) was published as a book and staged at the KOM Theatre. Saisio herself appeared in the production, playing, among others, the role of Joan of Arc. In May she was awarded a Government Literature Prize for Kainin tytär. More…

The Sleepwalker

Issue 1/1984 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

We print here an extract from the radio play Somngångerskan (‘The sleepwalker’, 1978). Walentin Chorell himself said that he felt this genre to be the closest to his heart, and his radio plays are perhaps the element of his work that has contributed most to his reputation in Finland and in the rest of Europe.

As the play begins, we sense night in the old, rambling log house, with a clock ticking in the background; the sound comes closer, intensifies, and then dies away again. The clock strikes three; its works are old and complaining. Long silence.

Then the silence is broken by the loud and happy laughter of Jerine, the sleepwalker. A flock of gulls is heard calling over the beach; there is a gentle summer breeze, and the waves are lapping against the boulders on the shore.

FIRST VOICE (=the mother, frightened)

What’s wrong? What have you wakened me up for?

SECOND VOICE (=the father)

It’s Jerine. She was laughing in her sleep. More…

Ethics and the individual

Issue 1/1984 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Walentin Chorell

Walentin Chorell. Photo: SLS

Over one hundred stage and radio plays, twenty six novels, poetry – the extent of Walentin Chorell’s work, from the early 1940s to his death last November was huge. The Finland-Swedish writer was by profession a teacher of psychology; his writing sprang from a real need to analyze the psychological drama of human life, to study other people – and at the same time himself – through the medium of literature.

His last television play, Hyena, is to be shown in Finland this summer, and his last radio play, Utopia, is to be broadcast in the spring. Many of his radio plays have been translated into the other Nordic languages, and his works have been performed and published in more than twenty countries.

The 71-year old writer was interviewed by Glyn Jones in Helsinki two months before his death.

‘I would say that writing for radio is what gives me most satisfaction, for there no limits are placed on your imagination. There are no limits in either time or space. On the radio you can have one scene portraying your main character as a child, and in the next as an adult; you can quickly follow that main character from childhood to adulthood, and your listeners will believe in it. As for space, you can set one scene in Paris – and indicate this by making a hotel porter call out the number of a room in French – and the following one can be set in Stockholm or Helsinki, and you can do it so convincingly that your listeners will believe in it.’ More…

A modern mystery play

Issue 4/1983 | Archives online, Authors

Jussi Kylätasku

Jussi Kylätasku. Photo: Pertti Nisonen.

Jussi Kylätasku (born 1943) is a prolific writer of poetry, plays – stage and radio – film scripts and novels. Iconoclastically he casts aside the realism that is so characteristic of Finnish drama and so beloved by Finns; but at the same time Kylätasku is very Finnish: paradox is, indeed, characteristic of this infuriating writer, who has delighted critics and public alike. Perhaps the best-known of his plays is Runar ja Kyllikki (‘Runar and Kyllikki’), which was first performed in 1974; his newest work is a novel, published in November by Werner Söderström. One of his most revolutionary plays, however, is Maaria Blomma (‘Mary Bloom’), which might be called an extraordinary modern version of a mediaeval mystery play. What follows is a personal view of the director of the first performance of the play, in 1980, Väinö Vainio.


There are drama scripts, technically assured texts addressing themselves to the burning issues of the day, that inspire one at first reading to predict fruitful interpretations and lasting recognition. Unfortunately, in the Finnish theatre world such forecasts seldom come true. Almost without exception, even those plays whose first performances are successful fall into the jaws of Moloch and rapidly pass into obscurity on dim and dusty archive shelves. More…