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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » April 25, 2013
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Our Class in the United States
April 25, 2013   
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Our Class, a highly successful and internationally acclaimed play by Polish playwright Tadeusz Słobodzianek, is about to premiere in Los Angeles, Chicago and Pittsburgh in an English translation by Ryan Craig.

The first play to receive Poland’s top literary prize, the Nike, in 2010, Our Class tackles the massacre of Jews in the small Polish town of Jedwabne during World War II. The characters are Poles and Jews who used to be classmates before the war. During 14 “lessons,” viewers learn about their dramatic lives over a span of almost 80 years.

At the beginning, the girls and boys sing and play together. Adulthood puts an end to the harmony and then World War II begins and the town is invaded first by the Soviet Army and then by Nazi troops. Anti-Semitism breaks out and escalates in a succession of rapes, murders and tortures. The atrocities reach a tragic climax when almost all local Jews are burned alive in a barn or killed in the town square. Survivors are few and the violence does not end with the war. People begin to square accounts with the past, something that is easier said than done.

Our Class is a harrowing story portraying the complicated relations between Poles and Jews in the 20th century. It deals with collective guilt, truth that nobody wants to know and history which cannot be explained.

In Chicago, Our Class will be staged until May 25 at the Remy Bumppo Theater Company, directed by Nick Sandys. Also in May, it can be seen at the Son of Semele Ensemble theater in Los Angeles, where it is directed by Matthew McCray. In Pittsburgh, the play will be directed by Aoife Spillane-Hinks and staged at the PICT Theater.

The world premiere of Our Class took place in 2009 at the National Theatre in London. The first Polish production, directed by Ondrej Spisak, opened at the Na Woli Theater in Warsaw in October 2010. So far, the play has been shown to audiences in Madrid, Budapest, Prague, Rome, Tokyo, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C. In Poland, it can be seen at the Dramatyczny Theater’s Scena na Woli venue in Warsaw.
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