Subversives Infiltrate City; Action Planned
by Paul Bass | Feb 20, 2014 9:02 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Theater, International
TO: SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, CONNECTICUT DIVISION (100-19186)
FROM: NEW HAVEN FIELD OFFICE
SUBJECT: THREAT TO STATE SECURITY
XXXXXX, who reports on pending activity in New Haven, advised this agent that five members of Theatre of the Eighth Day AKA Teatr Ósmego Dnia were arriving from Poland to stage a local action related to secret government surveillance of individuals engaged in suspected anti-state activity.
Subjects were spotted assembling and drinking coffee at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday in the lobby of the Study on Chapel Street. They apparently arrived the night before after a 16-hour trip from abroad.
XXXXXX advises that the group—actors who have put on subversive plays around the world since forming in 1964 from student protests against the Communist government of Poland—came to town at the invitation of the Yale School of Drama. They will perform a play called The Files at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Iseman Theater at 1156 Chapel St. Their visit comes at a time of great controversy over our efforts to keep tabs on threats to public safety. These subjects need to be watched while they are in New Haven.
The play features verbatim excerpts from group members’ personal secret-police files from 1975-1983, before they fled the country.
XXXXX reports that subjects experienced continual surveillance of their private lives, monitoring of public activities, and plans to disrupt their organization through undercover agents in the manner of the U.S. government program COINTELPRO aimed at domestic radical groups. XXXXXX also reports that subjects’ play The FIles has caused controversy in Poland and spread to Buenos Aires and New York. The subjects’ performances have caused critical discussions to take place about modern-day state-security surveillance in light of the EDWARD SNOWDEN and WIKILEAKS public disclosures of U.S. government surveillance files, which have caused great damage to our intelligence-gathering capabilities.
In light of the nuanced and artistic approach they take to the question of how to respond to modern government “spying” as well as to their own “oppression” under Communist rule, these Polish subjects are to be considered potentially more dangerous than SNOWDEN or JULIAN ASSANGE.
Subjects were identified as (from left in photo) MARCIN KESZYCKI, ADAM BOROWSKI, EWA WOJCIAK, TADEUSZ JANISZEWSKI, and JACEK CHMAJ.
XXXXXX advises that WOJCIAK is understood to be the group’s chief agitator aka “director.”
Subjects were followed walking down Chapel Street, then south on York Street, led by
XXXXXX, a Yale drama student and apparently the subjects’ local contact. Along the way, this agent, identifying himself as a local reporter, engaged in conversation with TADEUSZ. TADEUSZ said the subjects, who were invited back to live in Poland by the first post-Communist government, live in the Polish city of Poznań. He said they have now come under attack from “nationalist/conservative Christian” government officials who are playing a larger role in the government. The politicians have cut 30 percent of the subjects’ public budget. TADUESZ said subjects were considered anti-Communist until the fall of the Communist government. “Now they say we are too left. This is paradox. We are adapting. ... In our town they want to liquidate us, our theater. But we fight.” “Liquidate” was understood to be used figuratively, a reference to problems with budget and permission to travel. XXXXXX led subjects onto Cedar Street. They entered the Sterling Hall of Medicine on Cedar Street at 9:22 a.m. and walked to the basement.
There, in an office marked “YSM ID Center/Security Office,” subjects produced their passports. YSM stands for Yale School of Medicine. They obtained temporary Yale University IDs to enable them to enter the Wisemen Theater for rehearsals and performances.
Subject KESZYCKI is shown at 9:35 a.m. receiving his ID from
XXXXXX. KESZYCKI was overheard remarking: “Yale University passport! I am very proud. Very proud. Fantastic.” Subject was observed smiling in a fashion that suggested irony.
WOJCIAK was engaged in conversation about current conditions in Poland. She revealed that local authorities associated with the “right-wing national” and “church” faction in Poznań had sought to bar her trip to New Haven through “bureaucratic” measures. She stated that they denied her permission to leave work under the argument that she is a public worker because her group receives government money. “We said, ‘Fuck off!’” stated subject BOROWSKI. The matter may end up in court upon subjects’ return, WOJCIAK stated.
WOJCIAK was also asked about WOJCEICH JARUZELSKI, the Polish prime minister in the 1980s. (See attached archived Time magazine cover.) Debate has arisen in Poland about JARUZELSKI’s legacy, WOJCIAK stated. Some revile him for declaring martial law to crush a popular uprising that began at the Gdansk shipyard. Others argue that he saved the country from a Soviet invasion through his actions. WOJCIAK did not take a side in that debate. “There are documents on this side and on that side,” she stated. “We are beyond that.” She was asked to elaborate on the meaning of “beyond that.” She stated that many people in Poland continue to argue about the Communist era in order to seek “revenge.” She stated that her group has no interest in revenge. This appeared to be a promising subject to pursue further in terms of the subjects’ own political theater activities.
Subjects returned upstairs. Before exiting the building, they were detained by BOB KEYES, the security guard. Upon learning of their arrival in the building, KEYES had retrieved one DOROTA PEGLOW from the medical library. PEGLOW works in the library. PEGLOW was born in Poland. KEYES thought PEGLOW would like to meet subjects. See attached video of conversation between subjects and PEGLOW. Conversation is in Polish;
XXXXXX advised that JANISZEWSKI was inviting PEGLOW to performance of the play. PEGLOW appeared interested.
Subjects left the building and headed in direction of Chapel Street. WOJCIAK was again engaged in conversation, about current conditions in Poland. Subject was asked about JERZY URBAN. (See attached Google+ profile photo.) URBAN served as spokesman for the Polish government under JARUZELSKI. After the fall of Communism he became an outspoken anti-government newspaper editor. WOJCIAK stated: “We hated him. He was the face of martial law. ... Now he’s closer to us [in philosophy] than some of our friends we were fighting with then.” She explained that URBAN has been critical of “nationalists” and “right-wing religious” forces in government, just as the subjects are. Subject denied having any contact with URBAN. “We haven’t had dinner with him.” Subject was observed smiling in a fashion that suggested irony or disapproval.
At 10 a.m. subjects entered CHAPS GRILLE on Chapel Street.
Subjects sat together at a table near the door. KESZYCKI read aloud from the menu: “‘Good morning! ... Healthy Start. ... Bagel ... Panini ...’” Subject read in the manner of an actor reciting lines from a script. TADEUSZ remarked on the presence of “grilled rib-eye steak with 2 eggs” on the breakfast menu. “This is America!” responded KESZYCKI.
Subjects discussed the impact their play The Files had when they first performed it in Poland six years ago or so. They said it became part of a contemporaneous debate about revelations contained in released secret-police files dating from the Communist era. Those files identified many people as collaborators with the secret police. Subjects stated that people in Poland too readily wanted to believe all those revelations were true about their friends and neighbors. “It became an atomic political weapon. It was possible to destroy anybody,” stated KESZYCKI. Subjects said that friends with government connections one day delivered them a set of their own personal files. The files showed that the subjects were under extensive surveillance. The files included a lengthy review of one of their plays by a “high-ranking” Communist official. The review condemned the work as anti-government. It also included transcripts of the dialogue. “I decided we had to” create a performance piece from the files, WOJCIAK stated. That is how they came up with The Files. They created a script out of passages from the documents themselves as well as from their own poetry and other writings at the time describing their travails under harassment from the state. The subjects stated they sought to deliver a “complex” message with the play. They sought to “expose” totalitarianism. But they also sought to demonstrate that people should not accept the claims of secret police as truth. WOJCIAK stated: “We wanted to show what kind of documents they were: Stupid. Grotesque. Primitive language. There really is nothing to believe 100 percent.”
Subjects noted that LECH WALESA, leader of the anti-government Gdansk shipyard rebellion, was identified in one document as having allegedly served as a collaborator. Subjects stated that they at first thought the play was purely a Polish story. Then they performed it in New York City, where a woman approached them “crying.” The woman was reported to have stated, “This is America, this play!” A woman from Argentina said The Files was the story of her country under totalitarianism as well; she convinced subjects to perform a Spanish translation in Buenos Aires. Subjects said they have come to see the play as a universal story as well as one particular to their experiences. WOJCIAK stated that theater can serve to “expose” wrongs like excessive government surveillance on citizens, including dissidents. “To make it open is a way to overcome. To open things that are covered.” WOJCIAK stated the play portrays subjects as “a community of people who are very close and trying to overcome. This is maybe the only way to fight the policy of surveillance by police.” Bureau is advised that similar sentiments may be expressed when subjects plan a “Q&A” session following each of their three New Haven performances this weekend.
Subject TADEUSZ ordered the strawberry waffle and avocado omelette plate along with a “double espresso.” Other subjects ordered double espressos too. Subjects characterized recent events in Ukraine as frightening. They said they see “Cold War” echoes. KESZYCKI stated in reference to anti-government protests in Kiev and Sochi: “We understand it very well.” TADEUSZ proclaimed the omelette delicious despite difficulty in locating the avocado.
At 10:30 SHAFIQ ABDUSSABUR, a New Haven police officer, entered the restaurant. He was not in uniform. He claimed he was off duty. But when informed of subjects’ identities, he remarked “I’m following you!” His remark appeared to have been facetious. BOROWSKI stated: “We feel very safe with you.” A conversation ensued. ABDUSSABUR: “You know that feeling of being hunted down? That’s like being black in America.” BOROWSKI: “We have something in common.”
XXXXXX advises that subjects should be considered armed with history and artistic insight and dangerous. The above is being furnished to interested offices for information.
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