"We have been able to Skype in the playwright for insights on the characters as well as accent coaching," says Carey Morrison, the production's director and one of the company members.
Morrison first met the playwright, Kim Komljanec, while both were studying at the University of Exeter. "I went to a stage reading of this piece and it struck me how the subject matter had gone highly unnoticed in our part of the world," Morrison says. "I personally had no idea what had taken place during the Yugoslav wars and the struggles that the people of these newly formed countries still face in finding their identity."
Back in the Twin Cities, the nascent Theatre Terra Firma agreed that Wash My Sin Away would be a good place to start. The play not only illuminates a story and corner of the world not often heard in the news but "the heart of the play deals with the universal themes of immigration, war, abortion, and the struggles of coming to terms with circumstances."[jump]
The play follows Lena, a young woman who fled Slovenia at the outbreak of the civil war. After learning of her mother's death, Lena is forced to confront her own past and the troubled politics of her former home. These issues are played out with visitations from her dead father and conversations with her boss, a Croatian.
Komljanec is a playwright and director who splits her time between her native Slovenia and the United Kingdom, working both in her native language and English. This production of Wash My Sin Away is her first show to be produced in the United States.
Preparation for the production included discussions about the history of the former Yugoslavian states and the current state of Europe, as well as the fact that Slovenia is the only one of these states in the European Union.
The process has been intense, but "the cast has been up to the challenges," Morrison says. "I believe what we have now is a very real and moving piece that is emotionally accessible, no matter how familiar you are with the history."
Wash My Sin Away opens Thursday at the Blank Slate Theater in St. Paul.