In 1925 Poland, a group of Jewish and Catholic schoolchildren declare their ambitions: to be a fireman, a film star, a doctor. As the children grow up their country is torn apart by invading armies, and internal grievances deepen as fervent nationalism develops. The tension escalates into violence as these ordinary people carry out an extraordinary and monstrous act.
Tadeusz S?obodzianek's award-winning play Our Class explores the events leading up to a darkly real moment in European history and follows the fortunes of ten one-time classmates from one century into the next. This haunting play is a courageous examination of loyalty and treason, individual bravery and collective cowardice and the actions that ripped apart a small community during the Second World War.
Studio 180 Theatre, in association with the Canadian Stage Company, is proud to present the North American premiere of Our Class. Directed by Joel Greenberg, Our Class plays April 4 to 30, 2011 at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs. The media night is Thursday, April 7.
About The Play
Nasza Klasa (Our Class) recently won the 2010 NIKE Award, Poland's top literary honour, the equivalent of the Booker Prize. It is the first time this prestigious award has gone to a play. (The play's Polish title, Nasza Klasa, is also the name of Poland's most popular social networking web site.)
The play is based on the 2001 book Neighbors, by the Polish-born historian Jan T. Gross, which for the first time told the full story of the Jedwabne massacre of July 1941, when all but a handful of the 1600 Jewish inhabitants of the Polish village of Jedwabne were murdered by their fellow citizens, the majority burned to death after being herded into a barn. Until Neighbors was published, the Nazi occupiers had been blamed for the massacre.
Interestingly enough, the world premiere of Our Class was held not in Poland but in the U.K. Our Class was premiered at the prestigious National Theatre, London, in September 2009. Translated by Ryan Craig, the production received rave reviews from the British critics.
When the play was award the NIKE prize, it opened a national debate in Poland that for many decades was not much talked about. For a play to create this moment of awakening speaks to the power of art and politics. This was the first step for a whole society to begin to come to terms with this devastating but unavoidable piece of its history, to begin rewriting "the national myths and collective experiences which have been shunted aside," in the words of Professor Gross.
The Polish premiere of the play took place in October 2010 at the ‘Na Woli' Theatre in Warsaw, which Tadeusz S?obodzianek took over this season as Artistic Director. He also runs the Laboratorium Dramatu (Drama Laboratory) in Warsaw, a theatre specializing in new writing.
Fifty-five-year-old S?obodzianek is also a theatre critic and director. His plays Tutajgroszek (Roll-a-Pea) and Merlin won the Fringe Awards at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993 and 1994.
Tadeusz S?obodzianek will be visiting Toronto for his play's North American premiere. Slobodzianek's visit is being sponsored by the Polish consulate in Toronto, with the support of the government of Poland.
Our Class is a Canadian Stage Berkeley Street Project initiative.
WRITTEN BY Tadeusz Slobodzianek
ENGLISH VERSION BY Ryan Craig
DIRECTED BY Joel Greenberg
FEATURING David Beazely, Jonathan Goad, Jessica Greenberg, Ryan Hollyman, Mark McGrinder, Kimwun Perehinec, Alex Poch-Goldin, Dylan Roberts, Michael Rubenfeld & Amy Rutherford
SET & COSTUME DESIGN John Thompson
LIGHTING DESIGN Kimberly Purtell
SOUND DESIGN Michael Laird
ORIGINAL SCORE Sophie Solomon
STAGE MANAGER Robert Harding
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Liz Campbell
PRODUCTION MANAGER Nathaniel Kennedy
April 4 to 30, 2011
Berkeley Street Theatre?, 26 Berkeley Street?
Box Office 416-368-3110 or http://www.studio180theatre.com
Ticket Prices & Performance Schedule
Tuesday to Saturday 8 PM
Matinees: Wednesday 1:30 PM & Saturday 2 PM
$22 to $49 (limited PWYC tickets available on Mondays)