by Selfconscious PRODUCTIONS (Toronto)
The (mostly) true story of an odyssey to Poland that a son and mother – both descendants of Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors – took while accompanied by Katka Reszke (Polish-Jewish scholar and author of Return of the Jew) as their guide.
We Keep Coming Back is a story that Michael Rubenfeld set in motion and one that now involves a core co-creative team. It was a trip of return to the country of Michael and his mother’s cultural origin. While elemental in its urge to reunite mother and son, the work is also steeped with a contemporary politic. While seeking to understand Poland’s complicated history, the narrative takes an unexpected turn in discovering a vibrant contemporary world of Jewish life in Poland.
In her book Return of the Jew, Katka Reszke refers to this narrative as the ‘Generation Unexpected’ – this is a new generation of young Polish Jews who are mostly descendants of Jewish families who had hid their roots to survive both the pogroms and later, the Shoah. It was only after the fall of Communism in 1990, that it became safe to once again practice as a Jew in Poland. Subsequently, thousands of discoveries of unexpected Jewish histories have been made – and these stories are growing every day.
In the performance, the concept of ‘generation unexpected’ is realized both in the retelling of Katka’s own story of personal Jewish discovery, and by dissecting Poland’s confrontation with the energy of a revitalized Jewish narrative in Poland, and the deep roots of a North American antipathy towards Poland. To borrow from and broaden Katka’s term, ‘generation unexpected’ characterizes the surprising positions each of the four characters in We Keep Coming Back are revealed to hold. It also elementally sits at the nexus of unexpected results forever revealing themselves in the other generation.
We Keep Coming Back is presented in a visually and audio rich environment, incorporating video footage from the team’s research trips, archival material (photographs, maps), and live and recorded music. The creators play themselves.
It was developed in Toronto and Poland.
SELFCONSCIOUS PRODUCTIONS is the performance company of Canadian theater makers Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley. They both share the belief that other people and being alive are both very confusing. They think that this is probably why they get along so well and also why they both remain interested in using the theatre as a place to explore how hard it is to do and be the things they most want to do and be. But they also believe that it is possible. So they keep trying. Their shows are The Book of Judith, The Failure Show, mothermothermother…, and We Keep Coming Back.
In cooperation with the 31st Jewish Culture Days Berlin