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The premiere of the play 'Our Class' will take place in New York: this is a real story about the cruelty that lives in each of us

'19.10.2023'

ForumDaily New York

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The premiere performances of “Our Class,” based on the outstanding play by contemporary Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek, will take place in New York at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from January 12 to February 4, 2024. Ukrainian-born director Igor Golyak (The Orchard; State vs. Natasha Banina) is working on a new production of the play about friendship and betrayal of ten classmates.

Photo provided by the organizers

The play “Our Class” is the story of ten classmates. Five Jews and five Poles from a Polish town grow up happily together, become friends and fall in love, but with the outbreak of war, former classmates become each other's enemies. They are divided into Jews and anti-Semites, traitors and defenders, murderers and their victims. The history of this class is a reflection of the Holocaust, one of the main tragedies of the XNUMXth century.

Screenings of “Our Class” are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday-Friday – 19:00;
  • Saturday – 14:00 and 19:30;
  • Sunday – 14:00.

Tickets on sale on the website performance, price. – $59-$129.

The play is based on real events of 1941: on July 10, Polish residents of the village of Jedwabne drove all their Jewish neighbors into a barn and burned them.

"Why did this happen? What led to this? Who is to blame for this? But it’s not my place to answer these questions. My job is to ask them", says playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek. In 2010, the play “Our Class. History in 14 lessons" was awarded the main literary prize of Poland "Nike". The play has been performed more than 50 times around the world since its premiere at the Royal National Theater in London in 2009.

The Guardian wrote about the premiere of Our Class at the Royal National Theatre: “With quiet dignity, the author of the play proves that, as one of the characters says, “you can’t bury the truth””.

«Very strong work. While examining the circumstances and not demonizing the perpetrators, Slobodzianek reflects on how ordinary people could become involved in such atrocities.", wrote a columnist for The Financial Times.

The cast of the play included:

  • Gus Birney (Shining Vale);
  • Andrey Burkovsky (“Call DiCaprio!”), for whom “Our Class” by Igor Golyak will be the first Broadway project in his career;
  • Jack DiFalco (Torch Song);
  • Jose Espinosa (Take Me Out);
  • Tess Goldwyn (New Amsterdam); Will Manning (As Reaper in the Summer Gain);
  • Stephen Ochsner (“Chicky”), an American actor who lived in Russia for many years and worked there until 2022;
  • Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof);
  • Richard Topol (Indecent; The Normal Heart);
  • Ilya Volokh (Gemini Man), Hollywood actor of Ukrainian origin.

For director Igor Golyak, who released the play “The Cherry Orchard” with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jessica Hecht in 2022, the new production “Our Class” will become personal and especially topical. He was born in Ukraine; in 1990, his family emigrated to the United States as Jewish refugees.

“The play “Our Class” is based on the true story of the 1941 pogrom in the small Polish town of Jedwabne, in which more than 1600 Jews were killed. They were killed by the inhabitants of the city - their neighbors, and not by the Nazis, as was said earlier, — says Igor Golyak. – Right now, Ukraine faces crimes every day from its recently fraternal people, its neighbors, and sometimes even relatives from Russia. Historical facts indicate that in 1941, Ukrainians collaborated with the German occupiers in the Babi Yar massacre in Kyiv, where my grandmother’s family and more than 33 other Jews perished. When I think about it, I can't understand why these horror stories are repeated over and over again. Our performance is about a truth that is difficult to accept. That evil can live inside us and next to us unnoticed, being a part of human nature. We are trying to see for ourselves and tell others about the traumas and pain points experienced by nations and individuals, and to comprehend them. How can one heal these wounds, or at least live with awareness of them? This is an exploration of humanity and a look into the future - what will we and our children do when faced with possible aggression?”

In July 2023, as part of the production of the play, the creative team went on a research trip to Poland to meet with the playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek, visit the memorial in the city of Jedwabne, the Auschwitz concentration camp and many other places associated with the tragedy.

In parallel with the performance, the project team is preparing a series of educational events and public discussions dedicated to the topics of the war in Ukraine, anti-Semitism, the experience of emigration, as well as issues related to self-determination and empathy.

The play was translated into English by Norman Allen and produced by the MART Foundation and the Harlekin Players Theatre. Detailed information - https://www.izakayasushilounge.com.

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