Canadian First World War


Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison

“Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison”
A Ukrainian Canadian WW1 story of courage, hope & resistance
Norman Nawrocki’s newest play online December 11th to 17th, 2021

Watch acclaimed Montreal playwright/actor/musician Norman Nawrocki and his sister Vivian Nawrocki perform his powerful new play, “Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison,” for seven days only, from Saturday December 11th @ 9am EST until Fri. Dec. 17th, 9pm EST on his YouTube channel. (

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Nawrocki tells the little-known but shameful WW1 story of the incarceration and exploitation of poor, unemployed Ukrainian-Canadian immigrants in one of 24 forced labour camps across the country. Some 8,579 suspected ‘enemy aliens’– mostly Ukrainians and other foreigners – were imprisoned from 1914 to 1920.

Filmed live in Montreal’s historic Gaston-Miron Building, with footage from Rawdon, Quebec and Vancouver, Nawrocki portrays a civilian prisoner of war who recounts a compelling tale of resilience and resistance. Desperate to escape the notorious Castle Mountain prison camp near Banff, the prisoner appeals to his Ukraine grandmother to help him. ‘Baba’ works her magic in his dreams.

Nawrocki blends Canadian history, emigration, racism, war hysteria, Ukrainian folkloric medicinal rituals and legend with family memory in the 40-minute long production.

He wrote, directed, performs in and produced the play, with filmed appearances by his Vancouver sister Vivian. She portrays the character’s ‘Baba.’ The exciting, fast-paced multi-media production features a soundtrack composed, played and recorded by the siblings.

This is the third in his trilogy of Ukrainian-Polish-Canadian plays based on his own family history. Nawrocki’s research revealed that possibly two distant family members were imprisoned in two of the camps. One escaped. The other’s fate is unknown.

The Globe & Mail says Nawrocki’s work is “Subversively powerful.” Reviewers called his lockdown solo play, Ukrainians, Pelicans & the Secret of Patterson Lake (2020) “Marvelous, profound & touching.” Playwright David Fennario called his play, Eviction? Dog’s Blood!! Nick Zynchuk, 1933, Montreal’s Red Plateau, (2020) “A triumph both politically & artistically.” The Winnipeg Free Press said his play, Women Strike! The Winnipeg General Strike 1919 –2019 (2019), “Received thunderous applause from the full house.

Internationally renowned, Nawrocki has written, staged and toured over 20 theatre and cabaret creations since 1986, authored 14 books of poetry, short fiction and a novel (with translations in French and Italian), and released over 60 albums of music and spoken word, solo and with his diverse bands. Pre-pandemic he toured Canada, the US and Europe. He also records and performs with his sister as the East European music duo, The Nawrockis.

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