Playwright Arthur Feinsod draws upon multiple sources to create a historical drama that is both an absorbing character study and an action-packed thriller. But this is not simply a history lesson. It is a heroic journey of epic proportions, reminiscent of Sophocles in its scope and depth. Together with Karski we are transformed and challenged to know more, both about ourselves, and the times in which we live.
This full-length play is the true story of Jan Karski, a young Catholic courier for the Polish Underground, a man who tried to stop the Holocaust. The play begins in 1978 when Karski, now a revered professor at Georgetown, breaks his vow of silence about his past and narrates and re-enacts for a filmmaker his harrowing missions during World War II to save the Polish Jews. We witness the torture he endured from the Gestapo, his bold escape from a Nazi hospital, and his perilous journey through Nazi-occupied Europe, with the secret code “Coming to See Aunt Sophie,” to report to Ally leaders on his own eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, having sneaked into the Warsaw Ghetto disguised as a Jew and a concentration camp disguised as a guard. We witness his unsuccessful attempt to meet Churchill in London and his success at reporting to Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter, then to FDR himself. This is the story about a quiet hero, in conflict with his younger self, haunted by what he saw and struggling with what he failed to do.
Receiving enthusiastic responses everywhere it has been performed, the play, directed by Dale McFadden, premiered this past May at the HERE AND NOW FESTIVAL in Germany. To celebrate the centenary of Karski’s birth, the Polish government sponsored a tour to three Polish cities through the Museum of Polish History, culminating in a performance at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on the grounds of the Old Jewish ghetto. The professional theatre company Crossroads Repertory Theatre produced nine performances in Indiana in July and two at the Chopin Theatre in downtown Chicago in September. The play has been translated into Polish and Hungarian, and new productions have been scheduled for the United States and Australia.