The greatest speech of all time.
By Abdul Turay
Published Postimees 11 May 2010
Think of every great speech from history. They all use parallelism.
Think of the beatitudes.
All blessed are the meek , All blessed are the peacemakers,All blessed are the poor.
Think of Martin Luther King's “I have a dream” speech.
Think of Winston Churchill Battle of Britain speech.
We shall fight on the beaches, We shall fight on the hill, We shall fight on the landing grounds.
Now we have a have candidate for great speech for our age. Andres Mähar, playing a disgruntled losing Unite Estonia candidate, ranting on a roof top and shouting f*** you to everybody; politicians, their supporters, country folk, the Janitor, even himself.
The “F*** you (Kai Perse)” speech.
“F*** you internet commentators, thanks to you, you can't get your point across without saying f*** you,” he said.
Estonia has one underlying political problem. People dislike the government, as they should be after years of failure and broken promises; people - especially the fine upstanding patriotic people who read this paper - also dislike the main opposition. Meanwhile the other parties are in the process of falling apart. If they are honest even supporters don't really trust any of the parties and believe they can make life better or fix the economy.
This situation has been going on for so long now that people have forgotten it is actually possible for politicians to be good at their jobs, honest and generally popular.
So along came Unite Estonia, a group of young actors with a clever marketing campaign. The press and even the public at large took it very seriously.
They thought maybe this could this be an answer. People so desperately wanted it to be true. Desperate times calls for desperate hope. Could Unite Estonia be a knight is shining armour, who slays the dragon, brings freedom to the people and saves the kingdom?
As we saw on Saturday Unite Estonia wasn't the knight, it was the court jester, the fool.
The fool isn't really a fool of course. Actually this stock character was probably the wisest person in the medieval trope. The fool poked fun at the established order of things, he changes pre-conceptions and makes you think. He doesn't influence the action in any way, he just highlights the absurdity or what is going on to the audience. Probably the most famous theatrical fool is in Shakespeare's King Lear.
If the media were expecting a saviour there were always going to be disappointed. Real life knights weren't heroes, they were hired thugs who went around forcing peasants to hand over grain to the lord of the manor.
Court jesters on the other hand were real. All kings employed them. King James I of Britain's fool tricked his king into signing over the kingdom to him for a day because the king never read any documents before signing them. The king got the point.
After the performance, some newspaper headlines expressed disappointment this was just a show. Even though it's been blindingly obvious to everyone that this was simply a play. Just a look at the mock election posters reveals the truth.
“Wait a second isn't that Marika Vaarik from Revenge Office...em hold on that looks like the guy who played Toomas Roo in Windward Land, em that's an ex-Vanilla Ninja surely.”
There must have been people in the auditorium who were taken up in the moment, even when it was clear this was all tomfoolery about the way that politics is conducted, they still wished this could be real and if there was a party like this they would vote for it.
It was Orson Wells stuff. In the 30s actor and director Orson Wells produced a radio play in which he managed to convince people that the Martians had invade. Thousands fled in panic.
They say crisises produces great art, well here is an example. The show's brilliant cast of actors stage designers and writers have managed to create something,that to my knowledge has never been done anywhere; a play staged to look like a political campaign, partly improvised and with actors, real politicians and the audience all taking part.
It poked fun at and showed up the inadequacies of the political system. Generally creative people in Estonia borrow ideas from elsewhere To wit, Keskerakond's most recent campaign with a long queue of people outside an unemployment office is a rip-off of a very famous campaign in Britain that dates back to the 70's and has been recently revived. “Labour isn't working”(see poster).
So this was that very special thing, an Estonian original. Indeed it hard to imagine how the same concept could be so successfully pulled off in another country.
The show itself was excellent, wonderfully staged, full of energy wit and emotion. Like a James Cameroon movie you could watch it with the volume turned off and still be entertained, still follow what was going on. The show was meticulous planned and thoroughly rehearsed, so of course it felt natural, even improvised.
Unite Estonia couldn't help but take a swipe at Keskerakond. No doubt their supports will say it was a cheap shot, since they are an easy target, but the play had a dig at everybody. No one was spared, not even Indrek Saar and Jaak Aaviksoo who were in the room.
The show had just the right balance of light-hearted and serious moments. If it had a theme it was, don't give away your right to decide your own destiny to elected officials, take responsibility for your life.
All the actors were great but special mention must goes to Jaak Prints whose acerbated performance held the show together.
Unite Estonia really illustrates the lines between show business and politics, always a fine one, has completely disintegrated. In Britain we say that politics is show business... for ugly people. In Estonia, the politicians aren't so bad looking, so it would seem politics is just show business.
It can't have been lost on many in the audience that here was one ex-Ninja, Lenna Kuurmaa, pretending to be a politician whereas her former band mate, Katrin Siska, is attempting to do the real thing.
There's a line in the classic 80s time travel movie, "Back to the Future" where a character from the 50s is given a camcorder and realises why the President of the United States in the 80s was B-movie actor, Ronald Regan.
“Amazing a portable TV studio. That's why your president is an actor, he'd have to look good on television,” he said.
Fast forward 25 years, in 2010 in Estonia all politicians are actors, they all have to look good on television.
Don't believe it? consider this.
Having worked in the field I can tell you that most of the time, even when politicians are giving interviews, apparent on the fly, what they are saying is actually scripted.
A top politician will have an army of people working behind him whose job it is to work out what questions any interviewers might possible think of and script appropriate answers. Quite often politician will have had a look at the questions before hand.
That's why politicians are never lost for words and always have facts and figures to back up what they are saying. And you thought they were so clever?
There are some who believe that politics is a about public service, like doing a stint in the army. If a citizen has somehow gained some kudos through he work in another field, he might be called upon by his fellow citizen to help run the country. If those days ever existed, they are long gone.
Now it seems that people go into politics because they can't sing, can't dance, , can't tell jokes, can't play a musical instrument but can act a little and want their ego's stroked. Some of them - without mentioning any names- can sing and dance, but their previous careers have hit the rocks.
But ultimately Unite Estonia leaves a lot of unanswered questions. The show may have been great fun; I am sure people left the auditorium feeling better about themselves and better about the future of the country. But in the end it's a court jester. A play is just a play. Unite Estonia may have livened things up, it's certainly help a lot of young people get interested in politics. What it didn't do and nor could never have done is answer the central dilemma the country is facing.
“If nobody believes in the government and no one believes in the opposition, just who is going to run the country come 2011?”
(Ed note: there will be a general election in 2011)