The Really Small Theatre Company in co-operation with the Finnish National Theatre proudly presents
The Chess Player
Written and Performed by Richard McElvain
Based on Stefan Zweig’s classic novella The Royal Game (Schachnovelle)
Two Performances Only!
20th and 26th April, 2018 @ 19.00
Willensauna Stage, Finnish National Theatre, Bergbominkuja 2, Helsinki
A stolen book of chess games becomes a lifeline for a prisoner in a Nazi jail. Held in solitary confinement, he keeps insanity at bay by dividing his mind between two feuding chess masters. After he escapes, he dares to skirt a volcano of madness by challenging the greatest chess player in the world to a match. Richard McElvain reimagines Stefan Zweig’s classic story as a 75 minute journey exploring the powers of imagination and the pitfalls of obsession.
"Using Zweig’s brilliant story as a springboard, the play explores the power of illusion and how it distinguishes us from all other beasts, how it frees us and at the same time traps us." – McElvain
Richard McElvain is an award winning actor, director and playwright from the United States. He also teaches at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. McElvain has created successful stage adaptations of the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Irving, O. Henry, and Saki, as well as his own version of Sophocles’ Antigone.
The Chess Player is coming to Helsinki from its successful run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Duration 75 minutes, no interval.
Student & unemployed: €15
Tickets can be purchased and booked either directly from the Finnish National Theater's own ticket office (see below) or from all Lippupiste outlets. Tickets can be purchased at any time from Lippupiste's online store at www.lippu.fi (English available).
Finnish National Theatre Ticket Office
Ticket sales: Mon-Sat 9.00-19.00, tel. 010 7331 331
Group sales: Mon-Fri 9.00-16.00, tel. 010 7331 332
(€0.083 + standard network rate)
Läntinen Teatterikuja 1 aA, 00100 Helsinki
The ticket office entrance is on the corner closest the railway station.
Full ticket information is available on the Finnish National Theatre's website (in Finnish only). The ticket prices include VAT.
There has been an ominous silence from us over the summer. We thought that after the problems we faced last year, that things would be better this year. Unfortunately, we have again been struck by many factors that have hindered our production plans.
There have been several personal misfortunes affecting our administration team over the past months and they have slowed our ability to action plans. In addition, before the summer we encountered a huge setback to our production of Choices when our planned theatre unexpectedly withdraw availability. This necessitated the need for us to have to start the very difficult task of finding an affordable alternative. Coupled with the problems mentioned above, we were again forced into the regrettable position of postponing Choices until early next year.
The theatre situation for small theatre companies in central Helsinki is particularly grim. So much so that we are having to consider alternatives further afield in Helsinki and Espoo. Please be prepared for this in future.
Although our main production has been delayed, we are able to offer some smaller treats!
At 19:00 on Thursday, 24th August we will be performing a half hour of Chekhovian wit at the Finnbrit Open House. This is the same evening as Night of the Arts. Full details can be found here.
On the 21st October, it will be our wonderful pleasure to transport you back to 1930 by performing a stage reading of Noël Coward’s sophisticated comedy, Private Lives.
Elyot and Amanda, once married and now honeymooning with new spouses at the same hotel, meet by chance, reignite the old spark and impulsively elope. After days of being reunited, they again find their fiery romance alternating between passions of love and anger. Their aggrieved spouses appear and a roundelay of affiliations ensues as the women first stick together, then apart, and new partnerships are formed.
Tickets will go on sale at the beginning of September and we hope you can join us. The performance will be held at the Finnbrit premises with only a limited number of seats available, so book early!
Now that our production of The God of Carnage and Malvolio’s Downfall has finished, we at the RStC would like to give a longer thank-you in the form of this blog post.
This production has been a wonderful success for us and has been the best-selling show we have staged since we started in 2005. We sold all 280 seats we had allocated for the run! Making this possible was our fabulously supportive audience! As well as the feedback we received live every evening, we have received a huge number of spoken and written acknowledgements and praise, from the average theatre goers right through to theatrical professionals. Nearly all of this feedback has been relayed to the cast and crew who, in turn, are massively grateful.
Malvolio’s Downfall was, on the whole, well-received. Feedback suggested that many found it difficult to follow the Shakespearean dialogue, and some thought it didn’t compliment The God of Carnage. However, at least an equal number of people thought the opposite. This is the nature of theatre and performance! From our perspective, we wanted to make our own small tribute marking the 400th year since the passing of the Bard. In Malvolio’s Downfall, we hoped to give a taster of how much fun Shakespeare can be, even without a full understanding of the language. The comments received indicate that we did this.
As with all of our productions, we supplied Finnish-language synopses for both plays. We do this because there is a portion of our audience who always show their support but sometimes struggle with the intricacies of the English-language. A Finnish synopsis helps them immensely and is our pleasure to supply. Unfortunately, we heard that these synopses had run out during our last performance, for which we apologise.
Getting The God of Carnage onto the stage was almost a two-year process from start to finish. There were many setbacks and hurdles along the way, but our audiences proved to us that the struggle was worth every single sigh and ‘facepalm’ on our part.
We were very pleased to have had over eighty English-language students from three different Helsinki/Espoo schools join us in groups over four different performances. One school had even incorporated reading the script to The God of Carnage into their learning programme before attending! Another group enthusiastically grilled the cast for 45 minutes in a question-and-answer session following the performance.
The production wouldn’t have been possible at all if it hadn’t been for the magnificent crew and front-of-house team. In particular we extend special thanks to Danny McAllister for his outstanding commitment stepping-up to his stage managing role, and to Salomon Marttila for joining us at the very last minute and conquering our final production crisis!
Thank you one and all!
Finally, we would like to say a brief word about our next production, Choices, due to hit the stage at the beginning of October this year. Many will be familiar with the name of Beth Morton thanks to her time spent in Helsinki several years ago contributing to the English-language theatre arena in the form of writing, directing, and stage-managing. Beth is now much in demand as a freelance stage manager in the UK, but has made time to do some more writing. Beth has written I Follow the Worse specially for the RStC, and specifically with Daniel and Christian in mind for the play’s two characters. This play will see Riikka Faucher making her directing debut with the capable help of Joan Nordlund. The second play of the production, Another Tomorrow, is a reworking of Beth’s play The Bench. This play will be directed by Daniel McMullen and will be cast over the next month or two. Details of the two plays will be added to our website later this week (if you missed the last page of The God of Carnage programme!). We look forward to you joining us for Choices in October!