World Premiere of a new English translation of gripping, timely “Our Class” by Tadeusz Slobodzianek, directed by Prof. Derek Goldman
Part of the 2018-19 GU Theater & Performance Studies Program season “Friends, Far and Near,” this production of Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s acclaimed play “Our Class” reunites director Prof. Derek Goldman with members of the creative team from his 2012 production at Theater J (Helen Hayes Nominated for Outstanding Resident Play), which the Washingtonian praised as “a harrowing epic. Quietly humanizing, heartbreaking… Profoundly beautiful. A deeply moving show.” The Washington Post noted, “It’s an important play, exhibiting the urgent assets of drama that forces its way into the conscience.” The production runs Nov. 8-17 in the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theatre, located on Georgetown University’s main campus in Washington, DC.
Winner of the prestigious Nike Literary Award, “Our Class” has profoundly affected audiences around the world since its premiere at London’s National Theatre in 2009. Based in part on Jan T. Gross’s 2001 book “Neighbors” about true events in the Polish town of Jedwabne, “Our Class” tells the powerful, sweeping story of 10 Polish classmates—five Catholic and five Jewish—over 80 years of their lives from the 1920s to early 2000s. As they grow up, their lives take dramatically unexpected turns as their country is torn apart by invading Soviet and German armies. Friend betrays friend and violence quickly escalates, reaching a crescendo that forever haunts the survivors.
Director Prof. Derek Goldman says, “”As profound as my experience working on this play for the 2012 Theater J production was, the play is alas even more timely now given the recent controversies around the Polish law making it illegal to name Poland’s complicity in the Holocaust, as well as the increased polarization experienced by communities around the world.”
This new version of the English-language script marks a collaboration between playwright Slobodzianek, who has remained in close contact with Goldman since attending the premiere of the Theater J production, which he praised as “one of the very finest productions of the play performed in the world,” and acclaimed DC-based playwright Norman Allen (Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play “In The Garden;” Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play “Nijinsky’s Last Dance;” “Once Wild: Isadora in Russia,” who has been in residence with the GU Theater & Performance Studies Program throughout the rehearsal process. Allen’s adaptation is from a literal translation by Catherine Grovesnor.
Goldman notes that the work has particular resonance here at Georgetown. “The play hits home for students on campus, exploring as it does lifelong relationships among classmates, and it is a particular gift to engage this story here at Georgetown given the commitment on campus to interfaith dialogue, social justice, and the power of performance to engage the world’s most challenging political issues.”
In conjunction with the Friday, November 16 performance, a public symposium will be held in collaboration with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. More details TBA.
The creative team includes many award-winning artists from DC and beyond including Misha Kachman, Set Designer; Ivania Stack, Costume Designer; William Kirkham, Lighting Designer; Thomas Sowers, Sound Designer; Emma Jaster, Movement Director; Eric Shimelonis, Composer; Paul Rochford, Music Director; and Joe Isenberg, Fight Choreographer. Cast includes Nicole Albanese (COL ’20), ML Sparrow (SFS ‘19), Healy Knight (COL ’20), Matias Litewka (SFS ‘22), Colum Goebelbecker (COL ’21), Ben Lillian (COL ‘18), Alex Prout (COL ’19), Charlie Trepany (COL ’19), and Ben Eneman (COL ’21).
The run of “Our Class” is part of the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program’s 2018-19 season, “Friends, Far & Near,” which opened with a residency of one of Prague’s oldest theater companies, Svanda Theatre, in a collaboration with The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown, the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the City of Prague. The season continues with co-productions of “Speech and Debate” (Jan. 24-Feb. 2) with the student co-curricular group Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society and “The Jewish Queen Lear” with Theater J (March 13-April 7). This production of “Our Class” is partially underwritten with the direct support of the Kenyon Family and alumni of Georgetown ’79.
Read about special events offered in conjunction with the run of the play.
“Our Class” showtimes include the following:
Thursday-Saturday, November 8-10 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 11 at 2 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, November 15-17 at 8 p.m.
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY THEATER & PERFORMANCE STUDIES PROGRAM
Written by Tadeusz Slobodzianek
Adapted by Norman Allen
From a literal translation by Catherine Grovesnor
Directed by Professor Derek Goldman
DAVIS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, GONDA THEATRE
The Davis Performing Arts Center, Gonda Theatre is located on Georgetown University’s main campus at 37th and O Streets, NW in Washington, DC 20057.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Our Class contains challenging and mature subject matter, including graphic language and depictions of physical and sexual violence. Recommended for audience members 16+ years of age.
$18 GENERAL | $15 FACULTY, STAFF, ALUMNI, SENIOR | $10 STUDENT
ALL OTHER PERFORMANCES:
$15 GENERAL | $12 FACULTY, STAFF, ALUMNI, SENIOR | $7 STUDENT
Space-available GU student tickets for opening night on November 8 are free (limit one), I.D. required at pickup. To order, visit performingarts.georgetown.edu or call 202-687-ARTS (2787).
ABOUT TADEUSZ SLOBODZIANEK, PLAYWRIGHT
Tadeusz Slobodzianek is one of Poland’s most important dramatists. A prolific and internationally recognized playwright and director, he is also Poland’s most important educator and developer of new playwrights. He is the Head and Artistic Director of the Gustaw Holoubek Drama Theatre in Warsaw. His school and laboratory, the Laboratorium Dramatu, and his legendary summer workshops in the town of Wigry, launched an entire generation of contemporary playwrights. His drive to develop a system for developing playwrights represents a fundamental reform of dramatic pedagogy in Poland, and is an important counter movement to Poland’s largely director-driven theatre.
ABOUT NORMAN ALLEN, ADAPTER
An inaugural member of Playwrights Arena at Arena Stage, Norman Allen’s work has been commissioned and produced by the Kennedy Center, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre (VA), Olney Theatre Center, Adventure Theatre and the Karlin Music Theatre in Prague. Recent projects include “A Lump of Coal for Christmas,” commissioned by Adventure Theatre-MTC, and the interdisciplinary “Once Wild: Isadora in Russia” ( “a bold new work of art” —Washington Post) at Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center.
Norman received the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play for “In The Garden.” His solo drama “Nijinsky’s Last Dance” won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play prior to productions across the U.S., Europe and South Africa. His work in musical theatre includes the book for Frank Wildhorn’s “Carmen;” the concert adaptation of “Sweet Adeline” at Encores!, New York City Center; and “The Christmas Carol Rag,” featuring a classic ragtime score.
Norman’s essays and feature stories have appeared in The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Houston Chronicle; in Smithsonian and Washingtonian magazines; on WAMU-FM; and on numerous blogs including “OnFaith,” “OnBeing,” “Howlround,” and “Tin House.” His work for television includes PBS documentaries on Vincent Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent and the Phillips Collection of Modern Art.
ABOUT PROF. DEREK GOLDMAN, DIRECTOR
Derek Goldman is Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and co-Founding Director of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, housed in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service with the mission “to harness the power of performance to humanize global politics.” From 2007-2106 he served as Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center. He is an award-winning stage director, playwright/adapter, developer of new work, whose work has been seen around the country, Off-Broadway, and internationally. His work has been seen at theaters such as Steppenwolf, Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, CenterStage, Folger, Round House, Everyman, Theater J, Mosaic, Synetic, the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theater, McCarter, Segal Center (Montreal), Forum, Olney Theater Center (where he is an Artistic Associate), and others. He is the author of more than 30 professionally produced plays and adaptations, including work published by Samuel French, and he has directed over 80 productions.
Recent highlights include “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Everyman (Wall Street Journal Best Productions of 2016); “Our Class” at Theater J (Helen Hayes Nomination for Outstanding Resident Play); “Grounded” at Everyman, Olney, and Northern Stage; “The Brothers Size” at Everyman; “The Diary of Anne Frank” (Olney); his adaptations of David Grossman’s novel “Falling Out of Time” (Theater J) and “Three Men in a Boat” (Helen Hayes Nom. for Outstanding New Work/ Adaptation) at Synetic; the World Premiere of Rwanda epic “Unexplored Interior,” the inaugural production of Mosaic Theater; Theodore Bikel’s “Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears,” which he developed with Bikel and toured internationally after hit runs Off-Broadway (Drama Desk Nomination) and at Theater J. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG); President of the US Center of International Theatre Institute and Founding Director of Unesco’s UNITWIN Global Network of Higher Education in the Performing Arts (based in Shanghai). Ongoing projects include “My Report to the World,” a new play about Polish World War II hero and Holocaust witness Jan Karski featuring David Strathairn which has been performed by the Lab in Poland (in conjunction with the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews); New York and DC. He received his Ph. D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. In 2016 he received the prestigious President’s Award for Distinguished Scholar-Teachers at Georgetown.