The play An Event in the Town of Goga was published in 1930, debuting on stage in 1931. The interwar period thus provides a cursory context for its understanding. Grum’s work was influenced by four major contemporary figures – playwright August Strindberg, theatre director Aleksander Tairov, psychologist Sigmund Freud and actor Conrad Veidt.
The central protagonist of Grum’s Goga is Hana, the daughter of a well-to-do merchant in a market town. Goga is a crammed little square of slanted houses whose rooms have no front walls. In the home of widowed trader Vajda, festivities are being prepared for his daughter Hana’s return from abroad. The townsfolk, especially the gossipy old sisters Tarbula and Afra, keep chattering about Hana’s potential grooms. Everyone feels like something important is about to happen. Hana, in the meanwhile, is terrified of the house servant Prelih who raped her when she was twelve. When she’s alone at night, Prelih sneaks into her room once more, and she hammers him over the dome with a candelabrum, killing him stone dead … or so it would appear. Somehow, the girl has to get rid of the body. She asks maid Tereza for help but the woman is too frightened, and Hana is compelled to take advantage of poet Klikot who is in love with her. Klikot carries the body into the square, the town erupts into mayhem. Everyone is hysterical, up in arms about something, though no one knows exactly what. Afra hurries over to Elza to see if she hasn’t hung herself. Elza once stole Afra’s lover, the late Erik, and the couple had an unwanted baby. She tried to commit infanticide but Afra rescued the child, giving it into foster care to Ms Prestopil. Elza never forgave herself for the act, and Hunchback Teobald never knew his mother. Afra has Elza in her clutches now: preventing her from revealing herself to her son or seeking salvation in suicide.
When the townspeople finally discover Prelih’s body, massive excitement ensues. It quickly wanes, though, as he begins to stir from his torpor. Unfortunately, he’s still alive … He remembers nothing. Hana is free, she decides to return abroad. The townspeople keep on waiting and waiting, waiting for their redemptive event, but nothing seems to be happening. — The End. — As the curtain rises, everyone is at their usual place. Prelih stands over Hana who is desperately struggling to push him away.
When it was first performed, An Event in the Town of Goga was met with reservation. Essentially, the problem was that Grum’s play failed to meet the moral standards of either the liberals and leftists on the one hand, or the Catholics on the other. It wasn’t concerned with promoting either national liberation or Christian ethics, and as such did not serve the political interests of the major powers. After World War II, however, attitudes to the play changed dramatically, and Goga eventually became a standard negative trope in the domestic social discourse, a testimony to the self-destructive potential within the Slovene collective consciousness and, as such, an important part of the national mythology.
Original title: Dogodek v mestu Gogi
Edited by: Lenart Zajc
Afterword: Lado Kralj
Price: 10,00 EUR