Wild Beasts Among You

Author(s): Michael David
This is the story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, keepers of the Warsaw Zoo. The play unfolds in the living room of the Zabinski villa on the zoo grounds, from where we witness the invasion and destruction of the zoo as well as the resolve of the Zabinskis to use their home and the remaining animal cages to shelter Jews throughout most of the war. More than 30 characters—the Zabinski family, friends, sheltered Jews, Nazi officers and more—provide the qualities of determination, commitment, humor, compassion, cruelty and forgiveness that makes the Zabinski’s story so unforgettable.
Format: Full-length play
Cast Size:Approximately 30
Character breakdown:

Pietrina Bianchi—29, the Zabinski’s cook and housekeeper
Mr. Tanaka—53, head groundkeeper
Jan Zabinski—42, director of the Warsaw Zoo
Ryszard “Rys” Zabinski—7, son of Jan and Antonina
Dr. Lozinski—61, the zoo veterinarian
Antonina Zabinski—31, zookeeper and Jan’s wife
Marcelina Grossman—30, sculptor
Lutz Heck—46, director of the Berlin Zoo
Szymon Pawlak—32, assistant zookeeper
Major Wozniak—40, officer in the Polish Army
Mother Zabinski—70, Jan’s mother
Maksymilian Frister—41, Marcelina’s friend
Weronika Eilenberg—32, Ryszard’s tutor
Mieczyslaw Aronszajn—22, underground organizer
Odilo Globocnik—35, SS-Brigadeführer of the Lublin province
Jacob Sporrenberg—37, rising SS-Gruppenführer
Gebhard Himmler—41, SS Colonel and Heinrich’s older brother
Zygfryd Parnicki—18, Catholic resident of Warsaw
Hayyim Kuratowski—31, Jewish resident of Warsaw
Yitzhak Mandelbaum—35, lawyer from the Jewish Quarter
Dobroslawa Mendelbaum—32, Yitzhak’s wife
Natalka Mendelbaum—11, daughter of the Mendelbaums
Rozalia Kuratowski—27, Hayyim’s wife
Marcinek Tramiel—31, Polish “Blue Police” officer
Maryla Askenazy—25, journalist
Voice of Radio Announcer
Voice of General Rommel
Assistant Zookeepers
German Soldier and Office
Waffen-SS Soldiers
Residents of the villa


Historical and biographical source material included in this play was obtained from the following sources:

Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe by Samuel P. Oliner and Pearl M. Oliner

Animals, My Adventure by Lutz Heck

Code Name: Fox by Aviva Lori

Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust by Eva Fogleman

Endangered Species: Jews and Buffaloes by Frank Fox

Fighting Warsaw: The Story of the Polish Underground State by Stefan Korbonski, F.B. Czarnomski and Zofia Korbonski

Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation by Richard C. Lukas German

Resettlement and Population Policy: 1939-1945 by Robert L. Koehl

Hans Frank’s Diary by Stanislaw Piotrowski

Hunt for the Jews by Jan Grabowski

Ludzie i Zwierzeta (People and Animals) by Antonina Zabinski

Nazi Collaborators: The Jews That Fought for Hitler produced by Martin Hughes

The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust by Mordecai Paldiel

Poland’s Holocaust by Tadeusz Piotrowski

Polish Society Under German Occupation by J.T. Gross

Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Israel Gutman

Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davies

Safe Haven: The Warsaw Zoo produced by Feliks Pastusiak and Alex Ringer

The SS: Hitler’s Instrument of Terror by Gordon Williamson

Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945 by Dr. Gunnar S. Paulsson

War Crimes of the Waffen-SS by Rudolf Schlossberg

Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler and the Warsaw Uprising by Alexandra Richie

When Light Pierced the Darkness by Nechama Tec

Wild Horses of Britain & Europe by Peter Smith

Zoo in Camera by Jan Zabinski

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman.


Nationality of Author: U.S.
Original Language: English
Production Rights Holder:

Michael David

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