Pojat

Original name Pojat
Kirjoittajat Vesa Tapio Valo
Paavo Rintala
Original language Finnish
Premiere year 1990
Theater Oulun kaupunginteatteri / Oulu City Theatre
Keywords Drama, Dramatization / Adaptation

Synopsis

The Boys, or Once upon a War is a Christmas Oratorio set in the years from 1941 - 1944 about the relationship of the Oulu boys with the great events of the war.

Characters: 11 male, 4 female, 6 boys

The play takes place in Oulu during the Continuation War when the northern Finnish town acted as a garrison for approximately 4000 German soldiers, who were periodically sent to the front to fight against the Soviet army.
The Boys is both the reconstruction of the lives of the young boys during wartime, but also a reminiscential play as seen through the eyes of those boys as adults.
The Boys juxtaposes the inspiration of youth with the horror of wartime, providing sudden contrasts in tone. When the boys find themselves in a bomb shelter during an air raid with civilians huddled together in fear, their anxiety disappears as they select targets in the city that they would like the Soviets to destroy. The surprise visit of Hitler to Finland to celebrate Mannerheim’s 75th birthday in 1942 provides the occasion for a homemade play by the Raksila boys, which satirizes the event and ends in comic disarray. Likewise, the boys upstage their performance of epiphany songs with a fireworks display thanks to stolen German rockets.
The adventure sometimes turns tragic when light-hearted moments lead to unforeseen consequences. For example, the boys’ attempts to sell beer on a train full of soldiers goes awry when the passengers are not what they have been expected to be... Their attempts to innocently spy on German soldiers with Finnish women goes sadly wrong for Jake because his mother is one such woman.
The Boys also juxtaposes contrasting types such as the self-consciously moral Immu with the boastful trickster Jake; the self-sacrificing mother Laina with self-interested Mirja; the warmongering Pastor with the down-to-earth communist grandfather; and the German militarist Fritz with his artistic subordinate Paul. It also makes fun at pomposity and religiosity, as the most avid Christians, Vieno and Leevi, are the most amorous and prolific lovers, and the Pastor’s gung-ho patriotism is exposed as hypocritical by his own timidity when under attack.
(Steve Wilmer, Stages in Chaos: The Drama of Post-war Finland, Tampere 2005)

Translations

Language German
Translation name Jungen aus unserem Viertel
Translators Horst Bernhart
Copies available Finnish Theatre Information Centre, tinfo(at)teatteri.org
Drama agency The Finnish Dramatists' Union, http://www.sunklo.fi
Language English
Translation name The Boys
Translators Steve Wilmer
Marja Wilmer
Copies available Finnish Theatre Information Centre, tinfo(at)teatteri.org
Drama agency The Finnish Dramatists' Union, http://www.sunklo.fi