When I tell people what I do, and that it involves Holocaust theatre, one of the most common responses I get is “Oh…is there any?” The first few times it happened, I was privately a bit taken aback – “No, I specialise in something that doesn’t exist!” – and then amused, and then thoughtful. Most people would cry “Oh, of course!” in response to my “Sure – how about The Diary of Anne Frank?” But it got me thinking. How many people would be really interested to learn more about Holocaust theatre – if only they knew it existed?
And so the idea of Play for the Day was born.
Each month, I’ll look at events from Holocaust history (primarily 1933-1945), and plays that have been written about/in relation to them. A few examples: in July, I’ll talk about the Jedwabne pogrom of 1941, and Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s Our Class (adapted/translated into English by Ryan Craig). In November, I’ll examine the start of the Nuremberg Trials in 1945, and Abby Mann’s Judgement at Nuremberg. In March, I’ll discuss the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and Mike Alfreds & Jane Arnfield’s adaptation of Zdenka Fantlová’s memoir The Tin Ring. And so on.
The events and plays explored will include all groups persecuted by the Nazis: Jews, the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour, the mentally and physically disabled, political opponents, those deemed ‘racially inferior’ by the Nazis, and others.
I’ll also consider why the experiences of some groups are hardly known in the public arena and broadly under-represented in plays – such as the Roma & Sinti and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just as with other groups, these discussions will be put into context alongside key historical events; for example, the liquidation of the ‘gypsy’ camp (Zigeunerlager) at Auschwitz-Birkenau in August 1944.
If you have any questions or queries, or would like to recommend a play for review/discussion, please get in touch.