Out of the margins
Six contemporary Finnish plays have recently been compiled into an anthology and translated into Catalan. To mark its launch, a staged reading event is set to take place in Barcelona next month. “What the plays in this anthology have in common is that, one way or another, they have succeeded in bringing the marginal into the mainstream,” said Finnish theatre critic Maria Säkö, who wrote the foreword.
The word, as it turns out, had spread. Barcelona’s Institut del Teatre approached Dr Riikka Laakso, a Finnish academic based at the institute, to invite her to put together an anthology of Finnish plays with view to publishing them in Catalan. Laakso then turned to producer and translator Eeva Bergroth and writer and director Saara Turunen, who already knew the region well, for their help. Turunen has previously directed plays for the city’s Sala Beckett theatre.
Now, two years later, Dramaturgia finlandesa contemporania, an anthology comprising six contemporary Finnish plays, is complete. The featured works are Noora Dadu’s Fail – Virheellinen esitys (Fail – a flawed performance), Heini Junkkaala’s Homoäiti (Mother), E.L. Karhu’s kuka tahansa meistä – dokumentti (any one of us), Anna Paavilainen’s Play Rape, Milja Sarkola’s Jotain toista (Something else) and Saara Turunen’s Tavallisuuden aave (The Phantom of Normality).
The editors have teamed up with the Comanegra publishing house to organise a launch event at the Sala Beckett in Barcelona on 22 June. The programme for the event includes staged readings of the plays, directed by Saara Turunen and performed by Sala Beckett actors.
In her foreword, Maria Säkö describes the distinctive social landscape from which Finnish plays and dramatic texts emerge.
“What the plays in this anthology have in common is that, one way or another, they have succeeded in bringing the marginal into the mainstream. They have all emerged at just the right time, providing an outlet for an entirely new kind of dramatic voice.”
From minor to minor - Writing in a small language
Finding suitably qualified professionals to translate Finnish drama into other languages, like Catalan, can be a challenge. Saara Turunen, one of the anthology’s editors, commented:
“Professional Finnish-to-Catalan translators are few and far between and securing the funding needed for these translations was by no means straightforward either. I have this sense that, with the bulk of the funding available directed at actual stage productions, the importance of getting plays published is often overlooked. We need to recognise that plays are not going to get picked up by theatres if people can’t first read the texts for themselves. In that sense, publishing can have a very significant and far-reaching impact in itself."
The plays in the anthology were translated by Emma Claret Pyrhönen (Dadu’s Fail. Representació fallida, Junkkaala’s Mare lesbiana and Säkö’s foreword), Albert Herranz (Sarkola’s Una altra cosa), Luisa Gutiérrez Ruiz and Martina Cabanas Collell (Turunen’s El fantasma de la normalitat), Riikka Laakso and Meritxell Lucini (Paavilainen’s Play Rape) and Laura Pascual Antón and Laia Alsina Ferrer (Karhu’s qualsevol de nosaltres. documental).
The anthology was published as a joint venture between Comanegra and the Institut del Teatre. Grant funding for the translations and other costs was provided by Theatre Info Finland (TINFO) and the Finnish Literature Exchange FILI, as well as the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Arts Promotion Centre Finland. For performing rights, please contact Agency North and Nordic Drama Corner.
TINFO / Sari Havukainen
This is an edited version of the original Finnish news item (1 December 2021).