Finnish playwright Juha Jokela is in New York to see the adaptation of his award winning play, The Fundamentalist, which opens Saturday, Aug. 13 as part of The Fringe festival.
HEIDI: I have come to remind you that you too can receive this gift. Jesus' invitation is open to all.
MARKUS: Yeah, well as you probably realize, that's not exactly classified information. I mean, I am a pastor.
(Two lines from Juha Jokela’s play The Fundamentalist)
He’s in town to see the adaptation of his award winning play, The Fundamentalist. Not overseeing it mind you, micromanaging is not Finnish playwright Juha Jokela’s style and besides, the production is brought to the New York stage by the local Scandinavian American Theater Company.
“It will be interesting to see what they have done with my play”, says Juha Jokela with a smile.
It's one day before his play's premiere at the Fringe festival, which is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days.
“I know the play is in good hands. I am just glad that people in the world find it inspiring. If someone had told me five years ago that my play would be performed in New York I would not have believed them.”
Juha Jokela was a believer. He found his faith when at fifteen he participated in a confirmation camp – not uncommon prior to the first communion in the Nordic countries. The following years he was an active Christian but when he was around twenty he started to question his beliefs and began to ask himself what fundamentalism means and how it reflects on your mind. Ten years passed before he could finally get his inner thoughts on paper and the play that opens Aug. 13 at IATI Theater was created.
“There are only two characters on stage. Marcus, a man and former priest who wants to make publicly known how he lost his fate. Heidi, a former student, whom he knew 15 years earlier has turned into a religious extremist and now enters his life again. She seeks him out to save him and make him open fully and totally to Jesus,” said the playwright and added “the play is challenging and emotional. The audience will reflect about religion and the play illustrates how far humans are willing to go in order to follow their beliefs. The subject of fundamentalism is current, it has always been present and has caused a lot of sorrow throughout the years.”
The Fundamentalist by Juha Jokela, winner of the Nordic Drama Award 2008, opens Aug. 13, 8:30 p.m. at IATI Theater, 64 East 4th ST. Other performances: 8/15, 4:00 p.m., 8/20, 2:15 p.m. 8/22, 8:30 p.m., 8/24, 3:00 p.m. and 8/25, 6:00 p.m. For tickets visit www.fringenyc.org
(This is the first time a Scandinavian play is presented at The Fringe)
More info on Scandinavian America Theater Company: www.satcnyc.org/