“Wooden Wars” is a video-recorded theater piece which uses symbolic artifacts-- wooden crosses and wooden figurines of stereotyped Jewish characters-- to depict a cultural battle in contemporary Poland. People buy the figurines as amulets, believing that they will bring luck to their households. The “wooden Jews,” bought and sold in Poland, have become a nexus of capitalist opportunism, folk belief, and Jewish and Polish memory and migration. These figurines are both a sign of Polish anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism. Wooden Wars focuses on the lives of four young Catholics from modern Poland, each of whom changes forever when they discover that they might have Jewish roots. Sisters Zosia and Ania separate as one travels to America, converts to reform Judaism, and embraces her lesbian sexuality, while the other stays behind in Poland and marries a Chabadnik. Both come to speak Yiddish at home. Their stories are intertwined with those of their friends Jakub and Tadek, two young men whose own relationships with Jewish identity and Yiddish language are troubled. Neither as children nor as adults do the characters have control of their fates. Various paranormal forces are involved in the action, and Jesus appears to sing in Yiddish.
Jana Mazurkiewicz, doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, wrote and directed it. Sara Feldman, currently the Yiddish Preceptor at Harvard University, acted in and consulted for the play. Wooden Wars starts in English and Polish, but gradually includes more Yiddish so that by the second act almost all of the performance is in Yiddish (the film is subtitled in English). The structure asks us to reflect: Is Yiddish the key to understanding the Polish-Jewish past?
Suggested donation: $10
More information about Wooden Wars here: https://yaaana.com/wwars/