The Top Secret Violin Case

by Sofia Chapman

Audio play now available on Bandcamp! Click HERE

Starring Alana Hunt, Sasha Čuha, Kirri Büchler and Sofia Chapman.

Supported by the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants

Copyright Vardos and Sofia Chapman 2020

Romania, 1970 something, in the grip of Ceaușescu's oppressive regime.

The Secret Police are gaining a toehold in the domestic sphere, examining every action of civilians and interrogating them to test their loyalties to the communist cause.  Brad from Chicago arrives on the scene, hoping to escape his American closet to roam free in Romania, or so he thinks. When he decides to learn Romanian folk music he must negotiate band politics and musicians' egos as well as the Secret Police who may interrogate him on other issues if they catch him...

Cast

Alana Hunt - Ionel Stoican, an ambitious violinist

Sasha Čuha - Brad Spiro, an American music student

Kirri Büchler - Tony Covaci, a proud, exclusive contrabassist who flirts with the west

Sofia Chapman - Nicu Valentinu, an accordionist with a secret of his own

Dave Evans - News Reporter

Sofia Chapman - Mom / Mayor Gabi 

Will Tait - Vasile, A Grade Securitate (Secret Police) operative

Dave Houston - Dumitru, B grade Securitate operative

Kirri Büchler - Lola, a woman of Paris

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About the characters

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Meet Brad, a music student from Chicago.

He arrives in Romania to learn folk music

but finds that civil liberties are being whittled down under a megalomaniac leader

and that the right to protest is denied.

What's that he's holding?

Why it's the Jumbo RE73, top of the line recording device.

Is he stealing cultural information,

or is it just the only way of learning anything?

Code Name: Fir Tree (Brad in Romanian).

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Meet Ionel.

Everyone must follow his lead on violin,

making each mistake seem intended and correct.

Is this where Ceaușescu got the idea to become a dictator in Romania?  

Who is Ionel talking to, is he a recruit for the secret police?

He's actually pretty good on violin

and has won medals for his playing in the provinces,

but should Tony and Nicu steer clear?

Code name: Number One.

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Meet Tony.

He's the pretty boy of the band, flirts with the west,

a risky undertaking in 1970's Romania, and tries to impress a certain woman of Paris

by publishing a much sought after samizdat tract, 'Of Freedom of Ferrets'.

Will Lola find him before the secret police do? 

Code name: Ciuciu.

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Nicu Valentinu is trying to survive and harmonise with everybody

in the threatening milieu of communist Romania whilst hiding his own secrets.

Here Nicu looks happy and gay,

although a browbeaten and repressed citizen under the Ceaușescu regime...

you may have noticed he wears his heart on his sleeve.

Code name: Squeezy.

Photos by Darren Gill.

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The Top Secret Violin Case premiered at La Mama during Midsumma Festival in January 2020, with outside eye by Görkem Acaroglu and lighting by Teri Steer.

'An extraordinary gleeful exploration of some dark political events that besieged Eastern European countries under communist regimes. This light-hearted approach does not belittle the issues but allows the audience to see how suspicion and paranoia pervaded all aspects of life in countries like Romania... a highly energetic and lively production that is full of unexpected and enchanting moments.' 

Patricia Di Risio, Stage Whispers

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