Posted by: nightmistwalker | October 5, 2015

Sisu Is in the Heart

A friend of mine and her granddaughter were in a play this weekend. Sisu Is In the Heart was written by Park Cofield about Fairport Harbor, a local community. Fairport Harbor was the destination for many of the Finnish immigrants coming to America. This weekend was the world premiere for this play, which had a simultaneous opening in Finland.

The play centers around 4 generations of Cofield’s family. Additionally, Cofield has incorporated stories from some of the other Finnish families in town. There is a Finnish Museum in Fairport, which incorporates many genealogical records in its space. On the way out, a gentleman stopped my friend and asked her if she was of Finnish descent. “Not a drop,” she joyously answered. “I read the play and fell in love with it!” He was astounded that someone would participate in this project without having any skin in the game (so to speak).

That is the charm of a community play. Each of us comes from “somewhere else”. Every town and village could write a play similar to this one. The details would be different, but the broader themes are the same. How do you say goodbye to those you love, knowing that you will not see them again in this lifetime? How do you find work when you do not speak the language? How do you survive the death of a loved one, and where do you find the courage to carry on? How do you deal with all the pressures of illness with grace and love?

Sisu apparently translates into many things. The closest I can come to its meaning is “courage” and “strength”.  All of our ancestors needed courage and strength to leave their homes and build a new life here. I hope we have the compassion and humanity to remember that. Sisu Is In the Heart may be nominally about Fairport Harbor, but it really is about all of us.



  1. What a delight to hear there’s a play that seems to depict some of my roots! Two grandparents were born in Ashtabula and Conneaut and their parents all came from Finland – which I agree took sisu to do. Glad there’s a play that memorializes and celebrates that experience!

    • I am so happy that you liked the post. I hope you get a chance to visit the Finnish Museum in Fairport Harbor.

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