Pasi Lampela (b. 1969) is one of the most talked about and productive playwrights in Finland. His plays examine the problems of modern life and its hidden pressure points. In form they are intimate chamber pieces, usually focusing on a family or other small group. Lampela was the artistic director of Teatteri Jurkka in Helsinki 2000-2014.
In his plays, Lampela often examines guilt, sexuality, conflicts between generations and the loss of values. He attempts to analyse the world and contemporary phenomena by telling stories about the kinds of things happening around us just now.
Kuolemaani saakka (Until I Die, 1999) is a suspenseful drama about two men, who in their past both encountered the same woman.Markiisin unet (The Dreams of the Marquis, 2000) is set in the early nineteenth century; its central character is the Marquis de Sade, who has been locked in an insane asylum where a secret visitor comes to see him. Another of Lampela's historical plays is Aurora (2002), which tells about Aurora Karamzin, a society belle who established Finland's first private hospital in the nineteenth century. With his next two plays, Kirje vaimoltani (A Letter from my Wife, 2002) andViattomuuden loppu (The End of Innocence, 2003), Lampela returned to describing contemporary Finland. Hotelli (The Hotel, 2004) details the causes and effects of prostitution. Westend (2005) tells about a family who has buried its problems underneath the mantle of outward success, while Tiimi (The Team, 2005) depicts a forty-something character who has lost his idealism. Nollaneljäviisi (Zerofourfive, 2006) is a starkly realistic depiction of the world of drugs, examining addiction and family relationships. Geneve (2007) describes the great depression of the 90s and its consequences whereas Kuilu (Abyss, 2009) brings into a family context global problems such as human trafficking and abuse. Päätepysäkki (End of the Line, 2010) is an intimate drama about the search for a meaningful life. Despite its intimacy it depicts the problems of the middle class in a wider scale. The performance directed by Lampela himself was received very positively by the critics. In Lampela’s playMeidän poika (Our Son, 2011), the main character is a 18-year-old man who has violent plans for the future: he is planning a rampage. In addition to the mental problems of the bullied and lonely young man, the play also focuses on the pain of his mother, on the frustrating helplessness of his only friend and on the feeling of quilt which the inspector in charge is going through. Granada(2017) is a comedic story of former lovers meeting again and reliving their passionate relationship.
The Dreams of the Marquis (Markiisin unet, 2000)
Now a bitter man, the Marquis de Sade is locked in the Charenton Asylum, nevertheless nourishing hopes of regaining his freedom. He keeps writing clemency requests to Napoleon, which his servant Marcel is forced to deliver. Finally, a mysterious woman arrives, who knows a shocking amount about him and who hints that she has influence in high places. Who is she, and can she really help free the Marquis? And why is she so interested in the notorious aristocrat?
In spite of its historical frame, The Dreams of the Marquis is very much a play with contemporary themes, including sexuality, power and evil. The Marquis de Sade believes that he is looking true human nature straight in the eye. In his opinion, man should rid himself of pointless prejudices and admit that he enjoys subjection and violence. But sometimes the roles of the subjugator and the subjugated are reversed. The man who gave his name to sadism is forced to acknowledge that he is weaker in real life than in his books.
The play has been translated into Swedish and French.
Westend (Westend, 2005)
Olli Berg is nearing the culmination of a year-long project, as his firm is about to close a million-euro agreement with an international electronics firm. His financial worries are over and it's time to celebrate with his family. The party, however, brings to the surface the family's internal conflicts and suppressed anxieties. Olli's lawyer wife, Anita, is fed up with burying her feelings and being stuck in a boring marriage. The eighteen-year-old Elena longs to escape from the home's oppressive atmosphere. The arrival of Anita's brother Henri, an internationally recognized photographer, heats the atmosphere to the exploding point.
The play asks what happens to people who have sacrificed their lives to achieve success, and what price they pay for that success. It's a powerful depiction of twenty-first century Finland, where people's internal conflicts are suppressed behind a hard exterior.
The play has been translated into English.
The Team (Tiimi, 2005)
A Helsinki film-production company is celebrating the completion of a new movie, certain to be a success. The suicide of the scriptwriter, however, casts a shadow on the celebrations, and the writer's widow arrives to investigate. The dead man's colleagues are forced to look at themselves in the mirror and consider their lives and values through new eyes. What happened to the generation which in the 1980s pledged to change the world? Does anything remain except overwhelming superficiality? Have they learned anything from their past mistakes?
The characters in The Team are disappointed idealists, people who have sacrificed everything—including their human relationships—for their careers. In the course of the evening they are given an opportunity to find in themselves and in each other something they lost a long time ago.
Lampela's play sharply satirizes the age, but at the same time it is a play about human relationships and love.
Kirsi and Harri are former lovers who end up sharing a hotel room in Granada, in the heart of Andalusia. Neither one of them has gotten over their passionate relationship that ended abruptly three years earlier. Kirsi is studying the life of his grandfather, who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Harri has talked his way into tagging along, intending to get some closure with Kirsi. Two people, used to drowning their sorrows with work, have to face each other and most of all themselves. In Granada, in the middle of old world splendour, they have three days to confront their present. Huge surprises are in store for both of the.
Lampela's play is a comedy-drama full of funny and cringeful situations, dealing with incompatible dreams, complicated relationships between people dedicated to their work and their meetings in today's Europe.
The play has been translated into English.