Browse the Plays
- Experience Chronicled
- Allegoric or Metaphoric Representations
- Concentration and Extermination Camps
- Deniers and Denial
- Germany, Hitler and the Growth of Nazism
- European Jewry Before the Holocaust
- The Ghettos
- Righteous Gentiles
- Nazi War Crimes and Judgement
- Other Victims of Nazi Persecution
- Perpetrators, Bystanders and Collaborators
- Survivors and Subsequent Generations
- Theater During Holocaust
- Women and the Holocaust
- Experience Chronicled
A radio drama that depicts a reporter's interaction with a doctor who, as a concentration camp prisoner, had to castrate fellow inmates in order to survive.
Conversations with the Executioner
Based on a true story, Kazimiercz Moczarski, a Polish journalist who was a leader in the Polish Home Army, which resisted the Nazi occupation, is incarcerated as a collaborator by the postwar Communists. He is ironically imprisoned in the same cell as the SS General Jurgen Von Stroop, who was responsible for the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi leader the journalist had tried to assassinate. Their interaction in that prison cell are at the core of the drama.
A docudrama that chronicles the 1944 prisoners' uprising. The first act details the preparations for the revolt—the smuggling of gunpowder from the camp's arms factory by women working there to the Sonderkommando who oversee the gassing of prisoners and the property left behind by those gassed. The revolt is successful in destroying some of the death machinery. However, in the second act, one of the conspirators betrays colleagues. Yet, those who are captured and face torture and death exhibit great courage and resilience, particularly the protagonist Roza Robota and her female compatriots.
Five female inmates in a concentration camp, each from different backgrounds, tell about their experiences and everyday life at the camp: how they lost their identity, their clothing and personal items, even their hair. They talk about death, those who are lost, and the horror that surrounds them. To cope, they make each other laugh and they pretend there is food, but they also fantasize about how to get revenge on their Nazi captors.
In the Underworld
An English language production of the operetta Germaine Tillion secretly wrote of her experiences while in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. A dark comedy that focuses on life in the camp for its female prisoners.
The story of Curt Herzstark, a concentration camp prisoner who was kept alive by the Nazis because he was rumored to have invented the world’s first hand-held four function calculator—a great prize if it could be re-created. Caught between the thrill of technological discovery and the fear of rendering himself obsolete if he produces a working device, Curt’s survival plan takes a turn when the Nazis introduce him to a wunderkind Hitler Youth with a soul that might be salvageable.
Kolbe: A Saint in Auschwitz
Written by the former parish priest of Dalkey County in Dublin, the play, subtitled The Saint of Auschwitz, recreates the events surrounding Maximilian Maria Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar, imprisoned for hiding Jews, volunteered to be executed in Auschwitz in place of a Polish stranger (arbitrarily chosen as one of ten prisoners to die because of an escape), and ministered to other prisoners in the death camp. Kolbe was later named a saint and called "the patron saint of our difficult century."
Le Ciné-cadre de l’Esplanade Loreto
Using his highly theatrical style, Gatti conflates a recounting of the execution of fifteen French prisoners by German occupiers along with other occurrences during the Holocaust.
A vaudeville using humor, music and dance. A narrator weaves together four stories from the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The play merges past and present through the viewfinder of a present-day troupe of actors. Rather than dealing with the tragedy and victimization of European Jews targeted for extermination, it instead deals with those prisoners who saw themselves not as victims but as resistance and who fought back against their oppressors.
Passazhirka [The Passenger]
Set after WWII, a married German couple, Lisa and Walter, are traveling by ship from Europe to Brazil where the husband is taking a new diplomatic posting. The wife, Lisa, recognizes a Polish woman onboard the ship as a former inmate of Auschwitz whom she believed to be dead. Not knowing whether this woman is real or a hallucination, Lisa is forced to confess to her husband that she was a camp guard in Auschwitz, and the woman, Marta, was a prisoner she oversaw. The opera is set on two levels: the upper deck where Lisa and Walter are sailing, and the lower deck depicting the concentration camp.
Passenger in Cabin 45 [[Pasażerka z kabiny 45]
Written by concentration camp survivor Zofia Posmysz, who was arrested in Poland in 1942 at age 16 and sent to Auschwitz for attending secret educational classes organized by the Polish underground. Because Posmysz was a Roman Catholic, she did not face the same fate as her Jewish inmates, but she did nonetheless suffer brutality at the hands of the Nazis and witness scenes of unimaginable horror. She wrote the radio play Passenger from Cabin 45 in 1959 from the perspective of her Nazi prison guard, Anneliese Franz.
An East German socialist realist melodrama that chronicles the suffering of women imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, which was established in 1938 and became the largest concentration camp for females in the Reich.
The Court Jesters [ליצני החצר]
Four Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz are chosen by the camp commandant to be his personal clowns. An astrologer, a midget, a juggler and a court judge are the four "lucky" clowns. During the day they work like all the other prisoners, and at night they perform for the SS officers for small pieces of bread. They all survive, and the play follows them later in life in Jerusalem and Argentina, where one of them is taking revenge.
The Deliverance of Jacob
A husband comes home from a German internment center and discovers his wife living with another man. The irony is that the husband, who had been a hero with the resistance became a traitor by betraying a fellow prisoner, the man with whom his wife is now living and who, after acting cowardly during the occupation, had become a heroic figure in the camp. The dramatic action hinges on whether the men can forgive each other and the choice the wife must make.
The Infant Rat [L’Enfant-rat]
L’Enfant Rat moves back and forth in chronology as it focuses on six survivors, identified only by numbers, of the same concentration camp work detail. The play both details the continuing relationship between these survivors, their past experiences and the continued impact of the camp experiences on them.
The Last Golem Show [הצגת הגולם האחרונה]
Based on documented performances concentration camp inmates were forced to stage, the play depicts the fictional presentation of The Golem by camp prisoners for the Nazi administrators. The irony is that the classic tale of The Golem tells of a creature created by the rabbi of Prague to protect its Jews from pogroms.
The Men [Les Hommes]
Based on Delbo’s experiences, the play presents French women imprisoned prior to deportation in the period between 1942 and 1943. While separated from their men, who are often taken to execution, they decide to stage a comedy by Alfred de Musset, using the various skills of the imprisoned women, in order to take their minds of the horrific circumstances.
The Modern Nativity Play
Just as a concentration camp is about to be liberated, prisoners are forced to rehearse a nativity play about Herod and Christ's family, authored by a camp guard. During the course of Iredynski's drama, the camp prisoners play ironic roles in this grotesque nativity play.
The Smoke of Home
The play is a historical allegory, set in the Thirty Years War (1618–48), which enabled the co-authors to draw parallels with their own wartime situation. Four imprisoned soldiers spend most of the play fervidly anticipating their release and homecoming until Casselius’s devastating monologue reveals to them that there will be no return to the life they remember.
Three children and the clown Kašpárek/Kasperle travel to Africa in search of a treasure, live with an Arabic-speaking tribe in the village of Aljanin, and return to Europe with a discovery that saves even the poorest from hunger: the potato. Due to the portrayals of the African characters the script would need extensive adaptation to be performed today. Although the notion of finding a new source of food was clearly relevant to the prisoners’ situation in the ghetto, The Treasure has few other connections with the world of Terezín/Theresienstadt. Perhaps it served what one survivor called the most important function of theater for children: “We needed to divert them. So that they would simply forget about everything around them. Because when a person simply fixated on what was happening in front of him, he forgot about all the rest.”
Un Opera pour Terezín
Commemorates the annihilation of the European Jewish artists who were confined to the ghetto of Terezín in Czechoslovakia and is structured like a Passover seder. The piece is to last all night long and to be staged in sites across the world. Forty scenes show the fate of Terezin prisoners, based on the lives of camp musicians. There are no Nazis represented in the piece.
Une opérette à Ravensbrück: Le Verfügbar aux Enfers
During World War II, Germaine Tillion became one of the leading commanders in the French Resistance. She was arrested in 1942 and sent to the German concentration camp of Ravensbrück. While there, she secretly wrote this dark comedy as a way to entertain her fellow prisoners. Choosing to laugh at the experience was not only an act of defiance, but a way to feel human and alive in the face of degradation. Tillion was reluctant to have the work published for fear that people would not understand her humor during such tragic circumstances.
What Does Peace Mean?
A play for secondary school audiences, What Does Peace Mean? Takes place in a home just outside a Nazi concentration in Germany in the last year of World War II. Four camp prisoners are taken to the home; they are unsure of why they are there with one of the young females believing that they are to be used for the pleasure of the SS. However, the camp is liberated by British soldiers. When the camp commandant’s son comes to the house seeking safety from the soldiers liberating the camp, he is tried as a war criminal by the freed children. However, when the son is threatened by the British, the young camp prisoners protect him.
Who Will Carry the Word? [Qui rapportera ces paroles?]
Based upon the actual experiences of Charlotte Delbo, Who Will Carry The Word? dramatizes the lives of women struggling to survive in an Auschwitz barracks. The women hope that the strongest of them will survive to bear witness to the horrors they experienced. The play is presented with almost no scenery, with the camp life evoked through almost poetic descriptions, and recreated by the two survivors.
Three concentration camp prisoners, an assimilated Jewish financier, a poor Jew, and a rabbi, are forced to desecrate their holiest holiday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, by staging a farcical entertainment and by using the abandoned property of those already exterminated for their costumes and stage properties. Even after submitting to the Nazis' irrational demands, the prisoners face the same fate as those already sent to the gas chambers.