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Children of the Night is a drama about the children in the orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto under Nazi occupation. It recounts the heroic acts of Dr. Janusz Korczak (1878–1942), who was the head of the ghetto’s orphanage from 1940 to 1942 and whose work, including the presentation of a Passover play which is depicted in this drama, was an attempt to bring normalcy and beauty, while reinforcing stories of Jewish heroism, into the lives of children who were facing imminent deportation and death.
The play tells the story of the educator and Jewish doctor, Janusz Korczak, who ran an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto. Korczak had a unique method of working with children, and even though he could have been saved, he went to the gas chambers with the orphans he protected.
World War Two, the Nazi Occupation of Poland, Dr. Janusz Korczak—writer, educator, physician, and passionate advocate for children—tries to keep the 200 Jewish boys and girls of his famed Warsaw orphanage alive and hopeful in the face of unbelievable deprivation and terror. In the horrible conditions of the Jewish Ghetto, Korczak does everything within his power to make sure his children are fed and clothed, cared for and safe. But there are rumors of a change in the ghetto. Tales of deportations to concentration camps are spreading. Korczak knows time may be running out. Against the rules of the ghetto, he permits his orphans to stage a magical play—The Post Office—to teach them about the one adult subject he has not yet broached with them: death. As the play is rehearsed, the rumors become reality, and Korczak must decide who can be saved and who must go on the final journey together.
The play chronicles the selfless acts of Janusz Korczak, the teacher and director of the Warsaw Ghetto. Korczak strove to give the children a sense of normalcy in the horrific ghetto and eventually chose to leave with them for the Treblinka death camp. Another character in Brady's drama is Emmanuel Ringelblum whose writings, and those of others in a group he led, survived the Holocaust and provide insight into life in the Warsaw Ghetto.
This play is set in the final, numbered days of an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942. Based on real events, this is a “Brechtian” retelling of the central characters who are trapped both by the inexorable forces of Nazi oppression and by our foreknowledge of the fate that awaits them. The play’s “alienation” device of depicting its characters through the use of dolls, further enhances our painful feeling of powerlessness.
A depiction of the final heroic and selfless acts of Janusz Korczak, the director of the Warsaw Ghetto orphanage, as he prepares the children for their and his final journey to the Treblinka death camp.