22 October 2014

The next project presented in the When they come to burn down your home is Rats by Maja Kleczeska. Maja Kleczewska shifts the action of a classical drama by Gerhart Hauptmann to modern-day Warsaw. It’s the second Polish stage production of this text, after its pre-premiere in 1911. The director, together with her dramaturg, Łukasz Chotkowski, stages another scenario in the circles of middle-class elites who claim the right to reproach and discipline other members of society. Like in the original play, “the weak” who are left on the margins of society are allowed to speak out here, in the hope that it’s still possible to start a social and cultural rebellion of sorts. But the world presented onstage is not easily divided into good guys and bad guys; instead it presents the characters trapped in complicated professional relationships and driven by their own ambitions and desires. Rats not onlyreveals the processes that help discipline the citizenry, but also takes a closer look at how hate speech inserts itself and, as a result, becomes incorporated into everyday language. The creators of the show deconstruct superficial desires and privileged lifestyles; an extra layer of meaning is added by purposely casting actors who are household names in Poland, having appeared in a variety of popular TV shows.