Finnish playwright’s newest production creates space for exploring social norms

Finnish author and theatre director Saara Turunen is back with The Grapes of Reason, the third play in her Rooms trilogy. It opened at Helsinki theatre Q-teatteri in autumn 2022. English subtitles are available at several performances.

In a brand-new theatre aesthetic established under Turunen’s leadership, the sets, lighting, costumes and sound design make a space for exploring social norms through humour.

The characters might not say much, but they nevertheless speak volumes about normality, social norms and the dominant role reason plays in our lives. The Grapes of Reason deals with corporeality – bodily existence.

“This time, I wanted to explore the contradiction that’s inherent between reason and corporeality,” Turunen says. “I had already picked up this theme in my novel, but it bothered me that reason had this sort of upper hand in it. It was about how this neat and sensible way of life seems to preclude us from any sort of corporeality, while corporeality rules out the chance to lead a neat and sensible life in turn.”

The English subtitles are viewable using a mobile app on November 22 and 29 and December 13 at Q-teatteri. Nely Keinänen of the University of Helsinki translated the script, funded by a grant from Theatre Info Finland.

Turunen has a high profile internationally, too. In February, 2023, The Grapes of Reason plays in Antwerpen, Belgium, where the Finnish actors reprise their roles in a subtitled performance. Previous plays in the Rooms trilogy visited stages in Germany and Argentina.