This afternoon, going to the lecture room, I hear a student say something about her boyfriend in the military sending some alarming news about growing Polish - Russian tension. At first, I don't care. But she goes out to take an urgent phonecall during the lecture, and comes back with the news: Russia has invaded Poland! Again: I don't really buy it. I ask if this is some kind of joke. She asks me to borrow my laptop and verify the news online. Guess what! She finds video footage of Polish air forces taking off, and ground vehicles on the move. Not just one clip, lots of them. Another student calls someone on the phone and gets confirmation: yes, this seems to be true. I'm puzzled. Girls start to get nervous. I go out to make my own phonecall - which finally makes me a believer.
I rush back into the classroom, telling everyone the danger seems to be serious, the lecture is over, and everyone should go home to the families, or, if they prefer, they can come to the basement with me and hide in the bunker for as long as they want. (Yes, we do have an underground bomb shelter. Most of the neighbourhood was built in the midst of the Cold War as residential area for the military, with each building connected through the basement to a shelter designed to withstand a nuke attack. This is the entrance. Picture from Gazeta Pomorska.)
We rush downstairs, some of us contacting friends and family by mobiles. Confusion rises. Other students and staff met on the way seem not to have heard the news yet...
Finally, with several students truly convinced all this is real, I congratulate the team of three ladies behind this project. With little help from me to add credibility to the narrative (selected video files uploaded to my laptop beforehand), it has been their idea and performance all along. One of them had been planted in the audience to "perform belief" and lead by example. Good call! When I said we needed to leave the room, and she stood up and grabbed her jacket, the others followed suit. Honestly speaking, I hadn't expected it would be effective enough to make people believe. It did!
The most unusual project so far in my lecture on Nordic larp and improvised theatre at English Studies. :)