As BODY AWARENESS continues with a second Friday matinee performance today at 12 pm, and then two more weekends of performances through September 23, we continue to be buffeted by great new reviews, features, and a great profile coming out this Sunday in The Washington Post on our playwright, Annie Baker, and her directors.
We’re also deeply into our first week of rehearsal for the epic Polish drama, OUR CLASS, by Tadeusz Słobodzianek, the first play ever to win the Nike Award, (Poland’s highest literary prize), earning accolades from London to Toronto. The play presents an unflinching portrayal of one of the largest cover-ups never to make the headlines. As Jan Gross writes in Neighbors—-the source material for Our Class, “One day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small East European town murdered the other half—some 1,600 men, women, and children.” By proving that the Jedwabne massacre was carried out by Polish citizens and not by Nazis (as had been the historical record), Gross shattered the foundational myth of Polish heroism and innocence.
Our Class stages this shocking historical revelation through an intimate portrayal of the lives of ten Polish classmates—five Catholic, five Jewish. As the students grow up, singing and dancing together in the schoolyards, their country is torn apart by invading armies—first Soviet, then German, then Soviet again. Friend betrays friend and violence quickly escalates reaching a crescendo that will forever haunt the survivors.
And the haunting is really what I want to pull out for today’s posting. These Polish classmates are haunted by the ghosts of those who perished in the pogrom (or massacre) of 1941. There are the walking wounded, and then there are the walking dead; the ghosts that continue to interact with the living.
We’ll of course be sharing much more about Our Class, including moments from our first day of rehearsal. But the theme of War and its Impact — the realities of Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) as they play out in one war after another — are what come to mind this morning, after seeing another terrific play last night with our UM/UC/ND students. Last night we took in BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO, Rajiv Joseph’s haunting and highly theatrical new play about the ghosts of war, the brutal impact of combat, and the search for God and meaning in a battlefield torn asunder with dismembered limbs and sand pools of blood.
Here we’ll use the Theater J blog to appreciate other productions around town that speak to the work that we’re deeply involved in already here. This week we’ll look at BENGAL TIGER (and we encourage all to see it)! Next week, it’s BLACK WATCH, and, as you can read here, I’m encouraging lots of folks to see that too. For now, let’s hear some feedback on the Round House show, and some appreciation as well for the conversation that took place after, with the entire cast and the wonderful director of the show, Jeremy Skidmore.