David Staithairn stars as Jan Karski | Credit: Rich Hein
When was the last time you saw a play on stage, live? Watch the curtains rise and the audience become still? Heard an actor perform his lines right in front of you? Stand up in your seat and clap in appreciation until your hands tingle? Well, if it’s been a while, there’s no better play to get your feet wet with than this week’s Spotted in Jewish DC, Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski.
Starring Academy Award-Nominated actor David Straithairn, the play tells the story of Jan Karski, a courier for the Polish Underground, who smuggled vital information and his own eyewitness reports of the destruction of the Jewish people to America and eventually the White House. In a tour-de-force, solo performance by Strathairn, Remember This is a character study of the revered Holocaust witness, diplomat, activist, and Georgetown University professor who was imprisoned, tortured, and almost broken before becoming a hero to humanity.
If the production sounds familiar, that’s because this is a return to the DC stages for a limited engagement, after it began its national tour at Shakespeare Theater Company last fall. Produced by The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University (The Lab), the play is home-grown, co-written by Clark Young and Derek Goldman. It will run May 12 to 22 at Georgetown University’s Gonda Theater before an international tour over the summer, followed by an off-Broadway premiere in the Fall!
Straithairn behind the scenes with co-writers Clark Young (center) and Derek Goldman (right) | Rich Hein
“As Karski did, we are living through a time characterized by unprecedented challenges,” says award-winning Director Derek Goldman. “The example of Jan Karski speaks directly to our current moment, and he is an inspiring and timely account of the importance of individual responsibility and moral action in the face of hatred and injustice.”
Over the last six years of development, new aspects of Karski’s legacy have emerged as urgently relevant. Perhaps of particular interest to Georgetown alums and current students – along with these performances, the co-authors created an educational platform and course alongside The Lab’s Inclusive Pedagogy Specialist Ijeoma Njaka. The course, entitled “Bearing Witness: The Legacy of Jan Karski Today,” is now in its second year at Georgetown University and the curriculum is engaging both undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines.
This dynamic, experiential approach to learning uses the filmed theatrical production and archival clips and interviews with the extraordinary thinkers and leaders who have engaged with the play. It is the goal of the course to allow students to articulate their own applications of bearing witness in local, national and global contexts, as they follow in Karski’s example to continue to “shake the conscience of the world.”
If you’re interested in seeing the play, tickets are priced at $20-$55 and can be purchased here. If you’re a current student, you can join for a free preview on May 12 and 13 by RSVPing here. Want to win tickets? Look for GatherDC’s social media posts which will share instructions on how to enter to win! Oh, and a special edition of the script will be on sale in the lobby!
Check out the sizzle reel here.
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