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A play in two acts.

Setting: Poland and Lithuania
Time: 1939-1945


Four Jewish students resist the Nazis in war torn Poland.

18 M, 13 W (College aged)


1999 Berkeley Production:

“John Fisher's exhilarating new play. For all its grimness and grueling war scenes, "Partisans" conveys a vigorous human resilience. By telling its story of Nazi atrocities and Polish resistance fighters with college-age characters, this new work by the amazing author-director of "Combat!," "Medea: The Musical" and "The Joy of Gay Sex" grafts its subject to a student company of 31 actors.

People survive, "Partisans" says in rich theatrical language, because death just doesn't fit with taking on the world. The killings and furtive counterattacks are harrowing and beautifully resourceful. As the acrid smell of gunfire fills the theater, these partisans run for their lives. A platform rises and falls restlessly to redefine the treacherous landscape of Kate Edmunds and Oran Bumroongchart's set. David K.H. Elliott's lighting glares, blinds and cunningly conceals. Sound designer Victor Echevarria adds a metallic clang to ratchet up the tension. In one exceptional image, bare rails descend from the flies, and the students cling to them with animal instinct. The Nazis, seen in deep-space silhouette, prowl the edges of a swamp as they hunt their adversaries down.

Fisher's omnivorous theatrical energy never lets up. The program carries a lengthy bibliography of research materials. The show makes room for jokes about bad college theater and a crack about Stanford's Hoover Institution. In a touching final scene, "Partisans" harks back to the innocent braininess of its characters in the opening scene. A balloon that at first represented a model of the universe has become a real, painfully earned world. Hope shimmers on its bright red surface as the lights go down.”

- Steven Winn, SFGate/SF Chronicle

Read the script.