Holocaust Remembrance Day is Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Theatre can help audiences become more empathetic while learning. These plays teach us about the Holocaust with powerful monologues, historical characters, and award-winning scripts.
Full-Length Play by Charmaine Spencer. Cast: 3 to 4 m, 3 w.
This drama is based on the true story of the well-known artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who brought hope and beauty to thousands of children at the concentration camp of Terezin. It’s World War II and the Nazi juggernaut is running full-time, forcing Jews and other “undesirables” into concentration camps. At Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, one woman prisoner tries to make life bearable for the children. Using her passion for art and teaching, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis encourages them to draw pictures, often of home and family, trying to bring comfort to a place that has none. As Friedl struggles to protect the children from the ultimate horror, transport to the death camps, she becomes especially close to Rebecca, 16, and Eva, 13. Despite the terrible conditions, Terezin is touted as Hitler’s “gift to Jews,” and when the Red Cross presses for an inspection, Friedl is forced to contribute to the Nazi propaganda machine by designing a production of the children’s opera “Brundibár.” In defiance of his teacher and in despair at his own helplessness, Leo, 16, devises a plan to reach the visitors with the truth. His plot fails but he discovers that no matter how huge the lie, truth can still triumph through the enduring strength of human love and creativity. The play can be presented as a stand-alone piece or paired with a performance of the one-act children’s opera “Brundibár.”
The Last Train
By R. James Scott. Cast: 6 m, 5 w, extra flexible roles.
World War II lingers on. The unspeakable operations in the death camps are slated for closure, but there is still time for one last train to deliver prisoners before the Americans arrive. Two young German soldiers, Hans and Eric, are sick at heart and know their country is in ruin. They are assigned to assist the loading of the last car. Eric is shocked when he hears Anna, a childhood friend, call out to him for help. But Anna doesn’t have her papers, and no matter what Eric says to his superiors, he cannot convince them it is wrong for her to be there. Hans cautions Eric to “forget that you ever saw her, or you will never live another day!“
Full-Length Play for Community Theatres
Breaking the Silence
By Rivka Bekerman-Greenburg. Cast: 4 m, 3 w.
Three women with three different generations of memory are bound together by the specter of the Holocaust. Set in the reality of Manhattan, Shaina, a young medical student and member of the “third generation,” serves as the center of conflict with her mother Renee, a physician, and her grandmother Rosa, a survivor of Auschwitz and the Lodz ghetto. Rosa’s wartime experiences and the secrets she still keeps fascinate Shaina, who deserts her boyfriend and education to travel to Poland and explore her family’s history. Upon her return, the relationships among all three women begin to splinter beneath the weight of untold stories. The responsibility of a parent to their child is a thread that spins itself throughout the play, culminating in shocking revelations. Then it becomes clear that only through the power of dreams and the strength of love can the meaning of the past and the value of the present truly be realized.