30 Nov Kindness: A legacy of the Holocaust
On Friday 7th October, Voices of the Holocaust visited Arrow Vale’s Rhett Theatre to perform their production of Kindness: A Legacy of the Holocaust by Cate Hollis and Mark Wheeller.
The production was enjoyed by 130 students who study either Drama and/or History across four year groups. The impact of the day has been notable in the Drama studio with more students performing in an eclectic style, blending physical theatre moments with naturalistic acting and confidently breaking the fourth wall. This is a consequence of experiencing live performance in their performance space. Kindness: A Legacy of the Holocaust’s style was wide-ranging, using Brechtian techniques such as direct audience address paired with physical theatre movement sequences and some memorable naturalistic acting. The stage design supported this varied performance style being flexible with both fixed structures and movable items to denote environments and characters. Costume changes happened on stage reminding the audience that they are watching a play albeit a play that retells the life of Susan Pollack MBE.
We will continue to be inspired by this production as we begin working on our own Mitzvah project in school. Our Year 13 Community and Civic Leads, Star F., Tim J. and Maeve R. will be taking a lead on some school wide projects which will involve acts of kindness.
The comments below from Claire G, (Year 12) Alannah O’C (Year 11), Jess T (Year 11) and Loki W. (Year 11) demonstrate what a poignant experience we were fortunate to be a part of. Thank you Voices of the Holocaust.
What was the most memorable moment for you as an audience member?
The most memorable moment for me personally was the two contrasting stories portrayed within the camp, the story of the widow as well as the faithless man. I found this most memorable as it truly gave some insight as to how the persecution of the Jewish had ruined their lives, many find it hard to comprehend that every man or woman had a story prior to their antisemitic treatment, and I believe the performance showed this well. (LW Year 11)
The most memorable moment of the play was probably when they spoke about Susan struggling with kindness even many years later but also that kindness is what makes the world go round. (JT Year 11)
The most memorable part of the drama performance for me was when young Susan found someone she recognised from her town in the camp (Auschwitz). I thought they portrayed genuine facial expressions which conveyed to the audience their emotions in a natural way. (CG Year 12)
What did you enjoy most about how Voices of the Holocaust told Susan’s story?
One thing that I enjoyed most about how they told Susan’s story was that they used Susan’s own words throughout the play, finding this out at the end of the performance created a stronger impact on the audience. It helped convey to the audience the true reality that many holocaust victims and survivors suffered through without them having to be with us personally. (AO Year 11)
The aspect I most enjoyed about how they told Susan’s story was the lack of censorship or reluctance to discuss harsher topics, which is something that can hinder and almost warp the message being portrayed. Recounting the events as close to the truth as possible helped form an immersive environment free of any restrictions to truly paint a clear picture of such a tragedy. (LW Year 11)
I enjoyed how they told Susan’s story in chronological order– they named the key dates and times of different events and memories and I think this really helped me understand the depth and journey of Susan’s story. (CG Year 12)
I enjoyed how they stepped in and out of many different characters to portray Susan’s story as best they could, including as much information with the actors portraying the accents of different characters that they were playing. (JT Year 11)
What will you personally take away from watching this performance?
I will personally take away the message to be kind and remember how tragic the event of the holocaust was but that during all the pain and suffering there was always one or two people willing to help others risking their own lives. After watching the play I will try to brighten someone’s day when they feel down or not very well. (JT Year 11)
I personally took away the message of morality and humanity being driving aspects in what makes us truly people. Throughout the performance it was constantly shown from the victim’s perspective to horrific degrees, yet from Susan specifically, who kept her vague hope and morals, she seemed much more alive than the rest of the cast. Therefore, I believe the overarching message to be not just education of the unjust antisemitism but also the idea that we must keep our humanity, no matter what. (LW Year 11)
I will personally take away the use of group, ensemble work. They all worked as a team and made all the group work look effortless. I will strive to use this approach in my own performances, and make sure that there are plenty of rehearsals, so it is done correctly. Furthermore, on a personal note, I will take from this performance the bravery that Susan must have to talk about the past and all the terrible memories that come with it. I think the performers created a wonderful, emotional, sympathetic piece of verbatim drama and the dedication they put into it was conveyed through every detail. (CG Year 12)