On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the first airdrop of Cichociemni (also known as the Silent Unseen), the Marshall’s Office of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province along with the General Elżbieta Zawacka Foundation in Torun organised the project ‘Elisabeth Watson – Cichociemna’. The project sheds light on this outstanding Polish woman: a teacher, a woman soldier, a political prisoner, an academic teacher, a participant in the Solidarity movement and a social activist.
The play tells the story of a heroine. Yet, Zo – Elzbieta Zawacka — is not the protagonist of the monodrama. Instead, she is a young woman, an actress, who works as a waitress in London and is waiting for her lifetime opportunity, which she hopes to gain by emigrating to New Zealand. It is she who, while reading a script presented to her, is given the opportunity to learn about the life of the legendary Cichociemna; the story also turns out to be the story of her family. The juxtaposition of the world of a contemporary Polish woman, independent and self-reliant, who refers to Poland using the words “over in your place” and to England with the words “in our place”, with the biography of a female general, who “served Poland the best she could” is presented in the proven formula of “a play within a play”. The formula allows the heroine to move between the world of the war and occupation to that of Skype, castings and being a waitress. The journey between the two worlds and the past and present times becomes not only a lesson in history, but also takes her on a voyage of self-discovery. Kamila, who inserts English phrases while talking to her friend, having delved into the script of the play about Elzbieta Zawacka will say: “I can live anywhere, but I must know the truth about who I am”.
This is how contemporary patriotism, which is very hard to define for a young Pole, comes into being. He or she may be capable of reeling off the names of patriots referring to the period of the partitions or WWII, yet does not know what it means to be a patriot today. After all, it is an obsolete word in the commercialised reality. However, the desire for ties with tradition and to find our roots can shape our identity.
C.K. Norwid wrote: “the one who has broken away from the conscience of history, shall become uncivilised on a remote island and shall slowly turn into an animal”. Tradition is the conscience of history.
The play which we present is a story about the successful search for conscience.
The project is run under the auspices of the Ambassador of Poland, the General Consul of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh and the Marshall of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province. The project is financed by the Marshall’s Office of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province and supported by the Polonia Aid Foundation Trust in London, the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London and the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh, The General Elzbieta Zawacka Foundation, the Polish Institute in London, Fife Council, Fife Migrants and Fife Polish Education Trust.