In Kanada

In Kanada (1982) production photo

First performed on March 16th, 1982, at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London. Produced by the Public Property Theatre Company, directed by Phil Young.

The Play:

“In Kanada” is loosely based on the life of the Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski. Beginning on the evening of his suicide in 1952, it moves backwards and forwards in time, showing both recent events and scenes from his past life as a prisoner in Auschwitz where he undergoes a harsh education in the ruthless pragmatism of camp life.

Background:

In the mid seventies I stumbled across Borowski’s laconic collection of stories: This Way for the Gas, Ladies & Gentlemen about his experiences in Auschwitz, and was struck by their unflinching honesty and power.

At that time the English translation of the book was out of print; but in the eighties Penguin brought out a new edition prefaced with a short biography of the writer written by Jan Kott. It was from this brief sketch of Borowski’s life, with its many unanswered questions, that the play originated. It isn’t, and wasn’t intended to be, a portrait of the writer but it does try to answer a few of the questions.

“In Kanada” was published in 1984 by Faber as part of an anthology of new writing called Plays Introduction”. The full text is available in Acrobat format (132k) by clicking here. Right click or Control-click (Mac) and choose “Download to Disk” to read off-line.

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