Kristian Smeds (born in 1970) is a Finnish playwright and director, who is also well-established in European theatre. He is the first Scandinavian director to win the European New Theatrical Realities Award (2011), presented by the European Commission.
His plays are rough and energetic, written in a rich, poetic and yet colloquial language. They can be interpreted in many different ways and performed with a wide range of different theatrical techniques. In Smeds’ world, the personal and the political are inextricably linked, and he is characterised by a genuine commitment to the human soul.
In his poetic play Sad Songs from the Heart of Europe Smeds took as his point of departure F.M. Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment (1866). Its protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, commits a crime in the name of a higher purpose, denies it at first, then confesses, repents and begins to serve a long-term prison sentence in Siberia. Thanks to the loyal Sonia, a new life awaits him after his release. Dostoyevsky's novel deals primarily with questions about God, love, morality, evil, suffering, redemption and human freedom.
Smeds relocates his entire focus to Raskolnikov’s beloved, Sonia Marmeladova. She is the main and only heroine, her father Marmeladov, a drunkard who forces his daughter into prostitution to pay for his drinks, is described in her words, alongside her stepmother, who loses her mind, as well as Sonia’s half-brothers and half-sisters, the usurious old woman Alyona Ivanovna, and the young man who enters her life one fine day with a big secret of his own.
Smeds, a Scandinavian, is interested in the question of outsiders in contemporary Europe, rather than in the philosophical and moral dimension of the justification of the crime and the consequent denial, guilt, confession and reconciliation with which the Slavs, Raskolnikov and Dostoyevsky, are obsessed. Prostitutes, drunks, murderers, people from the lowest stratum of society are turned a blind by the prosperous and glamorous Europe of today, despite the fact that the growing poverty is desperately trying to be noticed. Sonia and Raskolnikov could just as easily be living today in a Scandinavian suburb or in the centre of Brussels, London or any other European city, as they did in the 19th century Russia.
Sad Songs from the Heart of Europe is a poetic play about beauty, love and hope.
Translator Julija Potrč Šavli
Director Jari Juutinen
Dramaturg Alja Predan
Set Designer Teemu Nurmelin
Costume Designer Tina Bonča
Composer and Sound Designer Ville Hyvönen
Lighting Designer Teemu Nurmelin
Video Designers Teemu Nurmelin, Ville Hyvönen
Language Consultant Živa Čebulj
Student Assistant to Language Consultant Eva Pori
Sonja Maša Grošelj
Opening 23 September 2022.
Performance duration: 1 hour. No interval.
Stage Manager and Prompter Breda Dekleva • Lighting Master Uroš Gorjanc • Sound and Video Masters Ian A. Brooks, Mitja Švener • Property Master Roman Grdina • Front-of-house Dani Les • Make-up Artists Marjana Sumrak, Andreja Veselak Pavlič • Wardrobe Masters Mojca Panič, Suzana Pučnik • Tailor Anita Kragelj • Seamstress Ivica Vodovnik • Head of Construction Gregor Prah • Assistant Technical Manager Rajnhold Jelen • Technical Manager Aleksandra Štern