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The Story of This Moment

7 August 2011

It begins with a state funeral for the nation’s most famous composer—well, actually it’s a staged reburial, because the composer fled the country many years ago and died in exile. It begins with mayhem as the old guard struggle to retain power in the new world order of rampant capitalism and fresh terrors. It begins with a reunion as Tae-song and Veronika who were lovers 25 years ago, meet in the hotel that was once The Palace of Revolutionary Martyrs.

Pyongyang in the recent past

From this opening scene we flash back in time, tracking the stories that have led up to this moment. From a life-changing encounter on a hospital operating table when Tae-song recognises the girl he once loved, to a prison cell in a place with no name. From the Mausoleum where Tae-song tends the mummified body of the Glorious Leader to the mysterious goings-on at the zoo. The various scenes or segments following each other like the stages of a journey leading us into the interior of a theme, a situation, a landscape.

Until—in this imaginary country somewhere between Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia, Communism arrives with a blaze of fireworks, slogans and wild optimism. And we discover that as high school students, Veronika and Tae-song imagined bright futures for themselves and their nation: he was going into medicine; she planned to study music with a well-known composer. Only problem was: rats appeared in the Workers’ Paradise. The dream began to disintegrate, a climate of fear and duplicity soon prevailed, and their lives went in very different directions.

Part macabre burlesque, part revolutionary opera, part love story, The Story of This Moment is an epic tale of seduction and political change across a quarter of a century.

Composer: Elena Kats-Chernin; Director: Sally Sussman

Short-listed: 2010 Richard Burton Award for New Plays

From → Plays

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