OUR CLASS deals with the complicated ties between Poles and Jews during the Second World War. Ten children, one class, fragments of their life growing together in a small Polish village. Love and murder, memory and forgetfulness, rape and compassion are all mingled into a powerful dramatic world that is breathtaking and moving at the same time.
The play is local and universal, a story that actually took place in the village of Jedwabne in Eastern Poland, on the 10th of July, 1941, when the Polish Catholic neighbors broke into the homes of the Jews they grew up with since kindergarten, forced them into the local barn and set on fire 1600 Jews.
Following an investigation in 1949, in which only several men where put on trial for the brutal murder of the Jews, Jan Tomasz Gross, a world famous war historian, wrote his book NEIGHBORS based on the testimonies of eye witnesses. At the same time, the Polish Journalist Ana Bikont, went to Jedwabne, interviewed many of the local people who witnessed the brutalities and murder, and wrote a book WE FROM JEDWABNE. Agnieska Arnold, a well known Polish film director, made a film about the Jedwabne pogrom.
Based on these sources, the Polish playwright wrote his play.
As much as the play is based on a local pogrom, it carries a universal message to every society that does not accept “the other”, where children grow up in an environment of intolerance, racism, and prejudices.
OUR CLASS is the first Polish play that received the Nike prize, the most prestigious literary Prize in Poland. Tadeusz Slobodzianek finished writing the play in 2008 for the Festival on Contemporary Polish Drama which took place at The Habima National Theatre.
Following the festival, the play had successful runs at The Royal National Theatre, London, Katona Theatre, Budapest, New York, Poland, and all around the world.
Tadeusz Slobodzianek is the director of Na Woli Theatre and Dramatyczny Theatre in Warsaw, and head of the Laboratorium Dramatu, a laboratory for new playwriting in Warsaw.
Dr. Varda Fish, dramaturg