Extra-virgin gospel

The objectified story of Palestine’s first and last sex toy shop

Long time ago in Bethlehem there was a man who knew that Palestine will not be free before they too will have a sex toy shop. That man’s dream finally came true in October 2000, when the shop opened. Unfortunately, on the very same day the second Intifada broke out; the shop was existed for only one day, during which everyone – from priest to imam to a Palestinian policeman to the occupying Israeli army – everyone except for the customers came by, and by the end of that day, the shop was destroyed.

But that this is not the story. Not at all.

Extra-virgin gospel (original Finnish title: Extra-neitsyt evankeliumi) is a political object theatre show, where sex toys are the protagonists of an absurd and tragic passion play. How does the narrative of the seemingly eternal Israel-Palestine conflict changes, when it is told by these cultural artifacts? The grotesquely hopeless (yet true!) story told above functions as a platform to discuss most acute questions of imposed national identities, of imposed occupation of one nation over another, of History’s literally dickheads impostors who claimed to be heroes and finally, of what an imposter the maker of this show (that’s me) becomes while trying to tell it all in the “correct” way.

Extra-virgin gospel premiered in October 2022 in Tehdas Teatteri. Following high demand, more shows are scheduled in Finland during 2023 and more to come later on.

From the reviews:

“A hopeless, sorrowful story told not with pathos and agony, but with humane warmth and dark humor. Extra-virgin gospel is, as is common in the shows of Grus Grus Teatteri, a multidimensional performance, who moves fleetly between moods and succeeds to surprise the audience.” – Frida Maria Pessi, Turun Sanomat 10.10.2022.

“Ishmael Falke is a talented puppeteer, who can get an object to communicate astonishing things. His way to perform has a wide register, he can hide himself behind a thin thread, he can appealingly open himself like a flower.” – Ann-Christine Snickars, Åbo Underrättelser 26.10.2022.

Manuscript, director and performer: Ishmael Falke

Guest director: Husam Abed

Guest Director: Idit Herman

Sound Design: Valtteri Alanen

Lighting Design and Tech operation: Jarkko Forsman

Dramaturgy: Ville Kurki

Scenography and Puppets: Helena Markku

Assistant director for puppetry scenes: Aati Hanikka

Graphic Design and photos: Jussi Virkkumaa

Production: Tehdas Teatteri and Grus Grus Teatteri