Jew

Autor: 
Pałyga, Artur
Tytuł oryginalny: 
Żyd
Gatunek: 
Dramat
Szczegóły: 
Grand Prix at the 3rd Festival of Polish Contemporary Drama R@port in Gdynia’08
Obsada kobiety: 
2
Obsada mężczyźni: 
3
Prapremiera polska: 
2008, produced by Teatr Polski in Bielsko Biała directed by Łukasz Talarczyk

A play about anti-Semitism that remains hidden in Polish society, but is nevertheless still alive. The thing takes place in a declining school in a smaller Polish town. The school is falling apart, it has debts, it is in danger of being closed down. One day the headmaster of the school receives an e-mail from the titular Jew, David Wassersztajn. The man asks for the return of an essay he wrote when he was a student of this school. The headmaster sees in this event a chance to get a big donation that will save the school. For this reason, he calls for a night meeting of the school's board of teachers: Polish, English, PE, and after a while a priest who teaches religion at the school joins them.

These few people constitute a gallery of colourful, highly diversified characters outlined with a rather broad but efficient strokes. An inexhaustible PE Teacher, a modern female English Teacher, an intelligently mischievous female Polish Teacher with a complex of superiority.

The director called this meeting to reflect on how to accommodate an old pupil, today, as everyone believes, a rich and generous man.

As the meeting proceeds and more and more absurd ideas are gathered (such as naming the school after Mosze Wassersztajn), Polish anti-Semitism, saturated with stereotypes and ignorance, is revealed. Artur Pałyga's play is a good lesson in history, free of bias, in harmony with Gross's 'Fear'. It contains reverberations of post-war pogroms, digging up Jewish graves in Treblinka, post-war persecution, the unwillingness of many people to admit that they hid Jews during the occupation, emigration. It turns out that before the war Jews constituted 50% of the town's population. None of the heroes (not excluding the youngest of them, the English Teacher Agnieszka) is without blame. Things that have been kept hidden for years come to light.

The play is written very seriously and very directly, there are no understatements or ambiguities. They are dry and therefore terrifying, although mostly known facts, which, among others, thanks to Gross and other writers and journalists, have seen the light of day.

The tone was skillfully undercut by the author's comedic presentation of characters, funny, intelligent, naturally sounding dialogues and a form that opens the play up to interpretation.