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play "Nativity-Moderne"

original title Jaselka moderne 
original language Polish 
playwright Ireneusz Iredynski
title of translation Nativity-Moderne 
language of translation Dutch 
translator A.M. Furdyna
synopsis On the eve of the liberation of a concentration camp, the prisoners rehearse a nativity play about Herod and the Holy Family, treated in a modern and metaphorical fashion. This play-within-a-play has been written by one of the camp guards. At the same time, the actors play themselves, the characters from the traditional nativity play and their contemporary counterparts. The action takes place simultaneously on several different levels. One level of reality shows the concentration camp and a group of inmates who are ordered to enact a drama written by a guard.  Another plane is represented by the Christmas mystery play, in which the conventional dramatic action becomes interwoven with the tragic lives of the abused and tortured actors who appear in it. This dimension of the drama constitutes the psychological plane, presenting the interrelations between the characters and their theatrical embodiments. Yet another plane centers around the guard, the author and the producer of the show, and the motives leading to his decision to start rehearsals on the even of the liberation of the camp. All the actors who appear in the nativity play are to be killed, except the one who plays Herod and who, of all of them, is the most suspect morally. The guard’s suicide crowns the entire masquerade. The borderline between the reality of the camp and the fictional enactment grows blurred. The guard, who is revealed to be the head of the camp, is the true tyrant and executioner.  Herod, an allegorical figure of tyranny from the mystery plays, becomes his theatrical embodiment and a modernized symbol of despotism. Herod – outside the camp a pimp and murderer – is the only one to survive and return to the outside world where he will continue to be a tyrant and wield power. A new terror yet to come awaits the world. 
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