Friday, July 17, 2015

Third-Generation Finnish-American Writes Play About Great-Grandparents!


SISU is in the Heart is a multi-year, international, community-based theater project about finding family and what is means to call a place home. For the past year, Park Cofield, a third-generation Finnish American based in Los Angeles, California has been collecting ancestry stories from Finns and Finnish Americans and researching his family tree. He is writing an original play inspired by these stories for the community of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, the village where his great-grandparents immigrated in 1900. The play is dedicated to his mother who passed away in 2014 and will feature 20-30 community members of all ages alongside professional artists from the U.S. and Finland. The performance will also include live music by the trans-Atlantic Finnish folk duo, AALLOTAR, and include puppets carved in the likeness of Cofield's ancestors, in a style inspired by Finnish pauper statues (vaivaisukot), a folk art tradition only found in Finland.

The project aims to increase inter-generational communication between teenagers and seniors about the past and family history, celebrate Finnish culture, and to build bridges between Finnish and Finnish American communities in the USA. Cofield intends to tour the project to Finland in 2016, where he will undergo a similar process of working with the community in Lapua, a village near the birthplace of his great-grandfather. The two resulting plays are designed to speak to one another and to shorten the distance between Cofield's two ancestral homelands.

You can make a financial contribution to the project: http://igg.me/at/SISU. The project team has set a fundraising goal of $15,000 between now and July 31st with a stretch goal of $20,000 in order to produce the play. The funds raised on IndieGoGo will support production costs, as well as stipends for community members who are donating their stories and voices.

You can read more about the project and sign up for email updates at: www.SISUisintheHeart.com, or on the project Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SISUisintheHeart.