Central Lakes College instructor-author Donna Salli’s play “The Rock Farm” was performed for a full house Aug. 5 in the Dryden Theatre on the Brainerd campus, marking the next chapter in a continuing collaboration between area theater artists and those from Joensuu, Finland. The play, which is about the Finnish-American culture of the Upper Penninsula, was staged for 225 guests in Ironwood, Mich., two nights later. It has gone through three separate production cycles. “What started out as a vague notion talked about at the dinner table has become an international phenomenon,” said Patrick Spradlin, CLC Theatre director. “The Rock Farm” began with essays and poems written by Donna and never intended for the stage. The collections of stories from her childhood, along with poems inspired by an extended Finnish family living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, were discovered by Finnish theater director Tuire Hindikka during a visit to Brainerd. Tuire brought a group of actors from her Floppi and Fiasko theater companies to CLC for a weeklong residency in 2007. While in Brainerd Tuire read Donna’s writings and urged her to adapt them to a script. “The Rock Farm” was translated into Finnish and given its world premiere performance in 2008 — in Finland. Tuire returned to Brainerd last October with a troupe of actors to perform “The Rock Farm” for local audiences. The play also was performed in English by a group of local actors under the direction of Erik Steen. Playgoers first saw the play in English, then witnessed the Finnish language version.
‘The Rock Farm’
The Finnish actors who were part of the cast, accompanied by directors Tuire Hindikka (left) and Patrick Spradlin, met with CLC President Larry Lundblad on Aug. 9 before returning to Finland. Playwright Donna Salli of the CLC English faculty, stands behind her young Finnish acting friends, Susanna Kohonen, Kerttu Pyy, and Emma Mustaniemi.