“Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” returns to its roots at Georgetown University. In a tour-de-force, solo performance by Academy Award-Nominee David Strathairn, “Remember This” explores this revered Holocaust witness, diplomat, activist, and Georgetown University professor who was imprisoned, tortured, and almost broken before becoming a hero to humanity whose moral courage and individual responsibility can still shake the conscience of the world.
The production began its national tour at Shakespeare Theatre Company (Read MD Theatre Guide’s review here.) and Chicago Shakespeare Theater Company last fall. It is returning to DC for a limited run this spring before an international summer tour followed by its off-Broadway premiere in the fall. Produced by The Laboratory for Global Performances and Politics, the play is directed by Derek Goldman and was co-written by Clark Young and Derek Goldman.
A writer and teacher based in Brooklyn, Clark Young co-created every iteration of “Remember This” from Warsaw and New York City to London and Washington DC. Clark graduated from Georgetown University, and received his Master’s from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where he was recognized for academic excellence in the field of Performance Studies.
Theatre work – NEW YORK: “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” (as”My Report to the World”) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. INTERNATIONAL: “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” at Queen Mary University, London and with Teatr IMKA in Warsaw, Poland. STC: “The Taming of the Shrew” (free-for-all), “The Servant of Two Masters.” REGIONAL: Ford’s Theatre: “Fly, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”; Woolly Mammoth: “Full Circle;” Studio Theatre: “Astro Boy and the God of Comics,” “Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven;” Company One: “Astro Boy and the God of Comics;” Synetic Theater: “Kafka’s Metamorphosis” and “Lysistrata;” National Symphony Orchestra: “georgeWASHINGTON.” FILM: “Remember This.” TEACHING: Georgetown University (Acting, Directing), Bronx Lighthouse College Prep Academy. EDUCATION: Georgetown University: BA in English, Theater and Performance Studies, NYU Tisch: MA in Performance Studies. PUBLICATIONS: “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski,” GU Press, 2021. UPCOMING: “.406 Below,” a new play about Ted Williams and the quest for immortality.
I attended Georgetown University where Jan Karski taught for five decades (Karski died in 2000). Derek Goldman was my professor who had become a collaborator and close friend, and he asked me to help him create a staged reading to commemorate Karski’s centennial. At that point, I was involved in theater professionally in DC, but I’d never tried to write something, at least something that others might see or read. While working on this project, I’ve taught at the university and high school level. There’s something helpfully symmetrical about writing about a professor you didn’t know, alongside a former professor, while simultaneously teaching. My mom is a teacher, so is my sister, and some of my closest friends…I think we all wish we’d had Karski as a professor.
Derek, Ijeoma Njaka (an incredible educator at Georgetown), and I have built a curriculum around the play called “Bearing Witness: The Legacy of Jan Karski Today.” We’ve taught the course for two consecutive years. Holocaust education is very poor in this country, as several studies suggest. But Karski’s legacy is also an opportunity for students to apply his story to ongoing crimes against humanity and all the cultural and governmental failures they are bearing witness to right now. And, unfortunately, there are many. After acknowledging them, with Karski as a guide, the questions become more productive—What do we do? What can we do? What is the responsibility of the individual who makes the choice to bear witness?
David has been working on this play with Derek and I since the very beginning—that staged reading in 2014, alongside students from Georgetown and, later, Poland. We’ve worked on it as a trio on-and-off ever since (mostly at Georgetown or in Derek’s basement), and, despite the subject matter, it’s been a complete joy. It didn’t take much to convince David. To attempt to dramatize the story of Jan Karski is very rewarding and humbling. I think we all feel like the quest to know the man and what he represents for our collective past, present and future is a worthwhile endeavor. I find that when the world is at its most incomprehensible, I look to Karski as a lodestar for how to move forward. I think all three of us do.
As for any changes, I am always surprised how aspects of Karski’s life and this play resonate differently depending on what’s going on in the world. I’m anxious to see what connections audiences make and how they process it.
This production is produced by The Laboratory for Global Performances and Politics which humanizes global politics through performance. It cultivates a distinctive global community of collaborators that includes students, emerging and established artists, educators, policy leaders, and activists. Their work harnesses narrative, memory, and acts of witnessing with the aim of sparking transformation and change. For more information, click here.