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Purge (play)

Aliide: “My love, my dearest love. The night we were all taken away for questioning, and you were in the cellar, and we came back in the morning, you know, that night everything changed”

Purge opens a window on a remote area of newly independent Estonia in 1992. Aliide, who lives alone in a farm house on the Estonian border, discovers a young woman named Zara in her yard. Through the two characters, Oksanen deals with the horrors experienced by the women of Soviet Estonia. The meeting of the two women makes clear that a country´s history does not become out-dated, it lives on inside every indivisual and becomes a part of their identity.

Rogel Vontobel, the Stückemarkt jury 2009, Berlin Theatertreffen:

In the early 90s Aliide is an old woman living on her Estonian farm. Then the arrival of the young Russian Zara forces her to confront her past and the young Aliide of the 50s. For the sake of her sister Ingel’s husband Hans, a fighter for Estonian independence with whom she was in love, Aliide married a hated party official. Hans hid in the cellar of her house. After an interrogation, Aliide betrayed her sister, who is then deported to Siberia with her ten year-old daughter Linda. Half a century later Aliide recognizes Zara as Linda’s daughter.

Aliide is a classic anti-heroine, a woman in whose biography love and history collide in the worst ways possible. In the end she will have betrayed everything and gained nothing – except for a long overdue moment of honesty with herself.

In Aliide and Zara, Sofi Oksanen brings two generations of women together representing contrasting chapters of Estonian history but both faced with the same challenge: to gain enough space for themselves to survive within male-dominated political structures. The meeting of the two women makes clear that a country’s history does not become out-dated, it lives on inside every individual and becomes a part of their identity. The work’s penetrating realism allows it to transcend its immediate Eastern European context and become a parable which raises questions about the limits of individual behaviour and political responsibility within repressive regimes.

Roles 3F, 4M

Praise for the play Purge on which the novel Purge is based:

“The personal drama is given razor-sharp contours, and expands to become the drama of a people, a country, and a bloody political course of events. There are no heroes here; for me, as a person who has never found herself in the line of fire, Purge appears a model situation for occupation and impossible human choices. It is a very compelling piece.” Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden, 2008)

“Sofi Oksanen’s first play Purge, which unveils the recent history of Estonia, is the theater event of the season. Oksanen’s viewpoint is inexorable and distinct. The pulse and density of the piece is reminiscent of a thriller, and as the evening progresses, the pace of the play is brought up. /…/ The point of view shifts between the occupation of 1945 and the 1990’s, and the story is ingen-iously constructed… The ending is cathartic.” Helsingin Sanomat (Finland, 2007)

Past First Nights:

Finnish National Theatre, Finland
Premiere 7.2.2007
The performance was invited to Dramaten, Sweden, and Eesti Draamateater, Estonia.

Tampere City Theatre, Finland
Premiere 9.10.2009

Joensuu City Theatre, Finland
Premiere 19.9.2009

Seinäjoki City Theatre, Finland
Premiere 4.11.2009

Pori City Theatre, Finland
Premiere 13.2.2010

Lahti City Theatre, Finland
Premiere 10.3.2010

Vanemuine, Tartu, Estonia
Premiere Fall 2010

Wasa Teater, Wasa, Finland
Premiere September 2010

Åbo Teater, Åbo, Finland
Premiere November 2010

La MaMa Experimental Theatre, New York, US
Premiere February 2011 

Scena Theatre, Washington DC, US
Premiere June 2011 

Scandinavia:

Stockholms Stadsteater, Stockholm, Sweden
Reopening 11.8.2011 

The National Theatre of Iceland
Premiere 20.10.2011

Tjódpallur Føroya in Tórshavn, Faroe Island
Premiere 5.11.2011 

Europe: 

Dramos Teatras, Kaunas, Lithuania
Premiere 13.10.2011 

Compagnie La Métonymie, France
Premiere Season 2011/2012 

Novo Grupo de Teatro, Teatro Alberto, Lissabon, Portugal
Premiere Season 2011/2012

Ilmatar Teatro, Madrid, Spain
Premiere Season 2011/2012

Hungary
Premiere Season 2011/2012 

Arcola Theatre, London, UK
Premiere 20.2. or 26.3.2012

Germany: 

Theater Osnabrück
Premiere 15.10.2011

Staatstheater Hannover
Premiere 12.11.2011

Theater Kiel
Premiere 15.01.2012

Invited to:

Theatertreffen, Berlin

Staged reading 7.5.2009

Terve!- festival, Volksteater Rostock, Germany
Staged Reading 17.4.2009

HotInk-Festival, New York, US
Staged reading 24.1.2010

Translation available:

English (trans. Eva Buchwald)
Swedish (trans. Seppo Laukkanen)
Finnish
Estonian (trans. Kalju Kruusa)
Russian (trans. Viktor Drevitsky)
German (trans. Angela Plöger)
French (trans. Sébastien Cagnoli)
Italian (trans. Nicola Raino)
Hungarian
Spanish
Danish 

Links to Reviews

In English:

The Washington Post 3.6.2011
Northern Virginia Magazine 30.6.2011

In Finnish:

Helsingin Sanomat 9.2.2007
Pohjalainen 6.11.2009

    In Estonian:

    Eesti Päevalehti, 20.3.2007
    Sirp 16.2.2007

      In Swedish:

      Svenska Dagbladet 26.4.2008