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AU- Voices of Terezin

This past weekend I was able to attend the Friday night performance of “Voices of Terezin” at AU. This was a two part presentation, the first of which was a musical offering while the second portion was a short drama. While the showings of the Terezin performance at AU concluded this past Sunday, I encourage those who were not able to attend or do not know about the project to visit the website…http://www.american.edu/cas/terezin/smoke-video.cfm

“Songs of Children”, composed by Robert Convery, was the first portion of the performance. This included nine songs written by the children of Terezin about their day to day activities and experiences as a coping mechanism. These songs were sung to the accompaniment of a skilled quartet. I cannot put into words the emotions which this portion of the performance evoked. I just kept thinking that these words were written by children and this AU program is trying to do them justice by allowing their words to be heard.

The second portion was a small drama entitled “Smoke of Home”. This was written by Zdenek Elias and Jiri Stein. The purpose of this drama was to expose the silenced voices of those artists and performers of Terezin. “Smoke of Home” was a drama which was to be held in Terezin but deportations occurred before it could ever be seen. The drama was so appropriate in that the characters were dealing with their separation from home, describing what home meant to them, and ultimately realizing that the home they knew and left would not be the same if, or when, they returned. (This experience was parallel to the experiences of the victims in Terezin)

A short essay entitled “The Voice We Knew, Voices We Treasure”, written by Kathleen Schmitt Elias and Dorothy Elias was included in the AU program. I came across this particularly moving excerpt which acknowledges the importance of programs like this Terezin project to the memory and legacy of the Holocaust and its victims…

“Jewish tradition holds that whenever one saves a single life, it is as if one has saved the entire world. By this reasoning, we would say that whoever has helped give voice to the two young playwrights from Terezin has given voice to the hundreds of writers and actors who passed through the ghetto– some few to sound their own voices after liberation but the vast majority to be silenced forever in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.”Kathleen Schmitt Elias and Dorothy Elias

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Jordan | March 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I agree; the entire production was excellent and moving. The music deserves its own show.

    Still, I had my doubts during the first few minutes of the prologue. Did you find the transition from adult characters to children at all jarring? I wonder a simpler prologue / conclusion would have been just as effective.

  2. admin | March 24, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Yes! I was thinking that too. It took me a few minutes to understand that a few of the guys who were playing men suddenly were portraying little children. I feel the prologue could have been shorter and more concise as it led into the drama…
    And I agree, I would have gone to a show purely based on the music portion…

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