Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Perestroika. Law of Language. The Chernobyl disaster happened last year. Springtime bike trips: “NO to phosphorous!” Still a month to go ‘til the Deer Park meeting.
The Pirgu Development Centre was set up on February 24th 1987. The team of sociologists was split into two, the “real” and the “emotional studies” sociologists, as we were called in the beginning. Then we were the Pirgu Memory Sector, and later the Pirgu Song and Play Society. Katrin Saukas, Jaak and Mart Johanson, Marko Matvere
Our first production was “The Report” – the ordinary life story of an ordinary person through power shifts, occupations, mobilizations, war, deportation, Siberian years, and years in collective farms…. And songs, songs, songs through changing times.
These songs were not sung back then: forbidden, feared, and forgotten. It was a time of memory blocks. Life stories were not spoken of. Hunting for old tunes, we found 73-year-old Agnes Riimaa at the Labour and War Veterans Song Festival.
Agnes worked as a nurse at the Kernu home for the disabled and taught the inmates to sing as her own initiative. Singing kept the “singing children” quiet. Pills could not always suppress aggression. The usual story of children with developmental disabilities: left on the street by their parents, bouncing from one orphanage to the next until they finally reached Kernu. Many only learn to spell here, at their last home. If their relatives are unknown, they end up in a grave in Tallinn’s Liiva cemetery. It amazed us how those without developmental disabilities could sing and read poetry. They had brought with them their talents and everything they had learned from their previous lives.
This is what our story talks about – the chroniclers, the chronically psychosocial, and, of course, Agnes, who brought us all together for a moment through her old songs.
In 1987, Jaak Johanson wrote a song:
Hei, poisid, kas olete valmis
Siis lükkame korraga
Merle Karusoo, stage director, leader of the Pirgu Memory sector
Premiere: February 15th, 2023, at Sakala 3 Black Box
NB! Late admissions will not be admitted and the tickets will not be refunded.