ERR journalists performing own Civil War-era play this Saturday

Kristjan Svirgsden (gray) and Anton Aleksejev (blue) rehearsing the swordfight scene in 'Lähetus'.
Kristjan Svirgsden (gray) and Anton Aleksejev (blue) rehearsing the swordfight scene in 'Lähetus'. Source: ERR

Three ERR journalists are donning period costume for a new production set during the American Civil War of 1861-1865, ETV current affairs show 'Ringvaade' (AK) reports.

Journalist Vahur Lauri is the author of the play, entitled "Lähetus" ("Departure"), to be performed outdoors at a "Wild West Day" event in Palivere, Lääne County.

Lauri said: "The play is set during the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865 and divided American society, a rift which is feared to have lingered to the present."

"The story relates a situation, in the context of the war, where soldiers from the Northern states have taken hostage women from the South, and are trying to keep them hidden," he went on, adding that further events will unfold from there.

"It took me half-a-year to write. A times, I couldn't go on and there were some gaps – it was actually finished in spring," Lauri continued.

Performing, on either side of the divide, are Anton Aleksejev and Kristjan Svirgsden, a journalist-cameraman duo who have extensively covered the current conflict in Ukraine for ERR, traveling there on more than one occasion to report.

Alekseyev, who is also director of the production and plays a yankee officer, told "Ringvaade" that his role was: "The highest-ranking officer. I have two subordinates /.../ while our task is to guard four women."

As to why he put the show on, said it was due to his love for the era.

Svirgsden, in the role of a confederate, has been rehearsing for a swordfight with Aleksejev in one scene, and said of the experience that: "Anton is a demanding director," to which Aleksejev responded light-heartedly: "Teaching him is a bit pointless – he has such a strong personality."

"I don't tell him what to do as such, just warn him what he should not do, under any circumstances," He added.

"We have been rehearsing as much as possible, which is never enough. And it tires us out, because we are not actors," Aleksejev went on, adding that his lines as written by Lauri often seem to be too lengthy, perhaps even for professional actors, though ultimately all those performing have got to grips with the script, he said.

As to the gender balance in the play, Lauri said: "When there are no women whatsoever, men can become unruly and vulgar, but women maintain civility and humanity - hence why I'm glad that we have so many women in the play."

"Lähetus" is to be performed in Palivere on Saturday, as part of the Wild West Day, an annual event in the village.

The original "Ringvaade" clip is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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