Paul Easton is a Kent State draft dodger and opposed to the Viet Nam war, as many intellectuals were during the sixties. He takes refuge in Canada. While on his way to a teaching job in the interior of British Columbia, his train derails, so he takes a shortcut through the woods to the town of Castlegar. While resting beside a pond, a beautiful creature named Tanya, appears from nowhere - surfacing in the water. The two fall in love. Soon grim realities take over. Ideologically, these two lovers are miles apart. Tanya is a member of a religious cult known as the Sons of Freedom, who live on nearby communal farms. Then there is Gregor, a Freedomite boy, betrothed to Tanya, and jealous of Paul's interest in her. Yet he admires Paul's ideology. Paul takes up his teaching position in Castlegar. It's a small school close to where the Sons of Freedom are encamped. When Tanya finds out that Paul is a school teacher, her perception of him changes. The Freedomites have always taught their own children, and it's mainly religion. The relationship between Tanya and Paul disintegrates. Gregor's jealousy turns into rage. He beats up on Paul, and then gets into a nightclub brawl, finally ending up in jail, and disgracing himself before his elders. Tanya is ordered by the elders to marry Gregor. Later a split occurs within the Freedomite camp. Some decide to return to Russia, others, the zealots, remain. Tanya is one of them. Gregor and his friend Michael Kirov, foil a government plan to auction off vacated Freedomite homes by torching them just before they depart for Russia. The few remaining Freedomites take refuge in the hills, living in tents. Several months later, Tanya gives birth to a son, Vassya, but only Tanya and her sister Natasha know that the real father is Paul. Paul begins to realize he is dealing with fanatics - people who have lost touch with reality. Winter sets in. Conditions at the camp become intolerable. There are food shortages and a lack of medical supplies. Soon Paul learns that the Attorney General in Victoria has ordered a new school to be opened, especially for truant Freedomite children. He volunteers to teach at the new school, seeing education as the only way to save these deluded people from their misguided ways. Few of the Freedomite children attend the school. The government decides to use force. Tanya's son, Vassya, together with the other truant children, are interned in the school. In retaliation, Tanya and several other Freedomite mothers burn the school down. They are all arrested and imprisoned. This further alienates Paul from Tanya. Tanya's sister decides to break with the commune, realizing her fate could be the same as Tanya's. She moves in with Paul, out of necessity, rather than choice. A relationship with Paul and Natasha develops, but Tanya remains foremost in Paul's mind. While Tanya is in prison, she writes to Gregor in Russia, telling him he is now a father. Gregor returns from Russia. He asks Paul to help him break into the school, get his son Vassya out, and escape with Tanya. Paul at first refuses, but when he learns from Natasha that Vassya is actually his son, in an act of self-sacrifice, he agrees to help them with their escape plan. He finally realizes that there was never any hope for him and Tanya. She has denied herself happiness with him, in spite of the fact that Vassya was fathered by him. Tanya's religion and her way of life, has always been more important to her than Paul's love. But a tragic ending is in store. Gregor and Vassya are killed in the attempted escape, leaving Tanya distraught and hysterical. Two years later, when Tanya is being released from a psychiatric hospital, Paul anxiously waits for her with outstretched arms, but she walks right by him.
Jovanka Bach was a playwright, novelist and medical doctor based in Los Angeles. Her first successful stage plays were the Balkan Trilogy, which her husband John Stark, produced and directed at the Odyssey Theatre in Santa Monica and off-Broadway at the Barrow Group Theatre in New York. Other successful plays included O'Neill's Ghosts, Sylvie, and Mercy Warren's Tea. Most recently her play Chekhov and Maria was produced in New York by John Stark, and filmed by Eric Till. It won three best feature awards, and is now airing on Super Channel Canada, PBS TV, Russian TV and coming up soon on Spanish and French TV. Her Platypus children's stories were written just before she passed away in 2006. The three stories were illustrated by Colby Monier. http://www.johnstarkproductions.com/