Second Nature (2016)
Nature documentaries cover animals and nature, but humankind and its species-typical behavior are generally nowhere in evidence. This obvious gap is addressed by Second Nature. Pipsa Lonka’s play sets up the human animal and species defined as “other” side by side to examine what sort of animal the human is.
Our species is often presented by default as the center of the world, but how substantial a portion of our activity is actually that conscious and supernaturally intelligent, as humanity is often portrayed? Is it possible we’re so used to seeing humankind through certain types of lenses that we no longer question our own limits and rights as one animal species alongside others?
Our languages and ethical codes recognize what it means to be alive and what it means to die. Only that which has lived can die. And yet in our midst live beings whose live is not the same as our live. What is the intrinsic value of life and to whom it does it belong? What about humanity, who is entitled to receive humane treatment?
"At its core, Second Nature is a play about mortality, which we share with other animals. The play strives to see humankind as one of many animals and examine humankind’s various relationships to other animals. It ponders human omnipotence in relationship to other animals, unnecessary and industrial suffering, the mundaneness of cruelty. The sequence of conveyer belts asks what is the difference between the death of the human animal and the death of those belonging to other species."
-Pipsa Lonka in a TINFO interview
The Human Mouth
A Woman is standing in a dimly lit kitchen in her nightshirt, drinking a glass of water. Andersson the Cat is watching her from the sofa. The Woman turns, looks straight at us, and speaks.
I had a dream that animals were marching into my mouth in an endless stream. All kinds of animals: Sheep, pigs, cows, giraffes, even lions, dogs and cats. I couldn’t close my mouth and I had to swallow all those animals, skin and hair and all. It was a nightmare.
The Woman drinks one more glass of water. Then she looks at the cat, which is resting on the sofa.
The human mouth, it’s a graveyard.
Andersson the Cat looks at the Woman.
A deafening boom.
A spotlight falls on an image: A fish opens hismouth in the shallows.
Translation by Kristian London
Lea Prize for the best play of the year
The 2019 Lea Prize has been presented to Pipsa Lonka for her play Second Nature (Toinen luonto – Den andra naturen). It premiered in Swedish translation at Helsinki’s Teatteri Viirus in 2018. The Swedish translation is by Sofia Aminoff.
“Pipsa Lonka’s Second Nature is a bold and masterful play about the most important topic of all. The brief, fleeting moments, embedded in a recognisable everyday reality, are written in a way that forces us to look until we begin to see. It presents us with cruelty and the banality of violence, invisibility, ourselves, our choices, the responsibilities we shirk.
Second nature takes us captive and turns our attention towards ourselves and our world, makes us confront what we have made it into,” commented theatre director and dramaturg Aila Lavaste, who chose this year’s winner.
Lonka previously won the Lea Prize in 2013 with These Little Town Blues Are Melting Away (Lauluja harmaan meren laidalta).