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
Alissa Through the Glass and Into Terezin
Alissa Hoffmann, a 14-year-old mischling, is taken from her Aryan home and tumbled into the Lewis Carroll like world of Terezin. From her Mad Hatter’s Tea Party ride through Germany, to her entrance through the Schleuse Gate, to the overcrowded living conditions, to her encounters with the White and Red Queens, the White Knight and Humpty Dumpty among other characters of this bizarre land, Alissa struggles to come to an understanding of a heritage she never knew she had a part. By the end, she must choose between sacrificing virginity to an older man, or accepting her fate as a Jewish girl.
And a Child Shall Lead
A true story of children living in the Terezín ghetto who, despite the horrors of Nazi rule, use their creativity to write poems, make art, and produce an underground newspaper. Their actual poems and stories are interwoven through the play.
Brundibár is a children's opera by Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, made most famous by performances by the children of Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. The name comes from a Czech colloquialism for a bumblebee. The plot of the opera shares elements with fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel and The Town Musicians of Bremen and details how children overcome an evil organ grinder.
Butterflies No Longer Live Here
Addressing the hate, indifference and prejudice of the Nazi regime, the production highlights the inhumanity and the suffering that took place within the Theresienstadt ghetto, where more than 155,000 Jews were incarcerated between 1941 and 1945. Of that figure, 35,440 perished inside the ghetto, and 88,000 were deported and murdered in extermination camps.
Cabaret in Captivity
Produced by Untitled Theater Company #61 in association with the York Theatre Company, this is a of sketches and cabaret songs written in Theresienstadt (Terezín), taken from an anthology , as well as other sources. It was performed in May 2016 at the York Theatre at St. Peter’s Church, New York, part of National Jewish Theater Foundation’s Holocaust Remembrance Readings for Yom HaShoah. Jenny Lee Mitchell, a member of the cast, also presented excerpts for the 2017 launch of this resource handbook in April 2017. Her focus was on the work and words of a charismatic Jewish poet from Czechoslovakia who was deported with her husband and younger son to Theresienstadt.
Camp Comedy focuses on the film director and actor Kurt Gerron, who, prior to the war appeared in Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera and with Marlene Dietrich in the classic film Blue Angel and who, in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, was forced by the Nazis to create a propaganda film, The Führer Gives a City to the Jews, extolling the virtues of the model camp. The play, which is highly theatrical and employs a narrator, uses actual cabaret material written and performed in Theresienstadt. Camp Comedy poses ethical and moral questions about survival and collaboration.
Can You Hear Them Crying?
A sequel to Children of the Holocaust, this one-act is a tribute to the thousands of children that did not survive their imprisonment at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Of the 15,000 children who were sent to the camp, only 100 survived. The narrative features translations of actual stories and poems written by the lost children.
Die Kinder der toten Stadt – Musikdrama gegen das Vergessen
„Die Kinder der toten Stadt“ (Children of the Dead City) tells of the fate of the children imprisoned in Theresienstadt. The plot is based on historical facts: a delegation of the International Red Cross visited the ghetto in June 1944 to convince itself that "the inhabitants were doing well". The SS staged a perfect illusion to deceive the visitors. Among other things, the captured girls and boys were forced to perform a children's opera. Shortly afterwards, almost everyone who took part in this performance was murdered. This musical drama is dedicated to them.
Drawing Life, a Jewish Music Institute (JMI) production, is inspired by a collection of poems and drawings made by children imprisoned in Terezín. Based on original poems and drawings of the camp inmates, the performance is a dramatized song cycle featuring archive film and survivor testimony.
Dreams of Beating Time
Dreams of Beating Time is set between 1917 and 1944 in Theresienstadt (Terezín, the model camp where theatre artists and musicians were allowed to produce artistic works but eventually transported to Auschwitz), Czechoslovakia, southern Germany, Mannheim, Berlin, New York and London. The scenes are structured like dreams and recollections loosely based on actual characters and events. Among the characters in the play are Kurt Singer, the former head of the Judischer Kulturbund in the Third Reich, an organization that had been allowed to produce theatre for Jewish audiences under Nazi supervision; Kurt Gerron, a Jewish director the Nazis wanted to use to make a propaganda film in Theresienstadt; Raphael Schachter, a conductor interned in Theresienstadt, and Wilhelm Fürtwängler, the controversial conductor who did not leave Nazi Germany.
Harlequin in the Ghetto
Based on the play Comedy about a Trap performed in the Terezín ghetto during World War II. Survivors recall performances of the original play, written by Zdenek Jelinek in the commedia dell’arte style about the relationship between Harlequin and Capitano. Harlequin in the Ghetto explores the young author’s experiences and inspiration, and examines the role of comedy during the Holocaust.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
This devised play takes a retrospective look at the journey to the genocide through the eyes of the children of Theresienstadt. From the humiliations on the streets of German cities, the synagogue burnings and the Einsatzgruppen to the wide and varied forms of resistance that people found and took in response to the devastating events of this period. Jewish festivals and cultural values are embedded in the children’s story, which ends on their arrival at Auschwitz in 1944.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
A one-act play that is based on the poetry written by Jewish children from Prague imprisoned in the model concentration camp Theresienstadt. The play chronicles the experiences of Raja, a girl in Thersienstadt, her family, a teacher, who encourages children's creativity, a young male friend, with whom Raja creates an underground newspaper, and a Terezín rabbi.
Requiem in Terezin [ראקוויאם בגטו]
An optimistic piece on the power of music, art and non-violent resistance. A narrator recounts how a young conductor, Rafael Shechter, decides to perform Verdi’s Requiem in the Terezin concentration camp. The narrator is also a survivor from the camp and tells of her own experiences, how they met, and the fight against inhuman conditions.
Signs of Life—A Holocaust Drama with Music
The true story of the Czech ghetto Terezín, renamed by Hitler, Theresienstadt, in his bid to fool the world and to hide the truth about what he was actually doing to the Jews. The “City for Jews” disguised the facts with a façade of beautification to fool the Red Cross inspectors—populating the city with artists, writers, musicians and scholars forced into lying. The alternative: being sent to Auschwitz.
Sweet Theresienstadt [Sladký Theresienstadt: Vůdce daroval Židům město]
The play is based on documents about life in the Theresienstadt ghetto: the diary of Czech journalist Willy Otto Mahler, and the story of Kurt Gerron, a German-Jewish actor and director who was coerced into the filming of a propaganda documentary, The Führer Gives the Jews a City, that gave a false idea of life for the Jews in Theresienstadt. (The Führer Gives the Jews a City is also the subtitle of the play). Their stories are linked by the two characters’ belief that their privileges offered them some distance from the suffering of the other prisoners: Mahler had a somewhat elevated position at Theresiestadt, he worked at the post office, was a member of the Jewish administration and was the head of Block B in the Hannover Barracks. Gerron believed the Nazis’ promise of safety for himself and his family for making the documentary. The play portrays the irony of their self-deception. Both men, as well as Gerron’s family, died in the extermination camps.
Two Jewish girls, Alexi—a brilliant violin player—and Violet are forced to act for their lives in a propaganda film in the Terezín concentration camp. At every turn, the girls face a desperate struggle for survival. Soon Violet mysteriously disappears and Alexi’s musical ability attracts the unwanted attention of the Nazi commandant. He gives Alexi a Faustian bargain: teach him to play the violin and he will reveal Violet’s whereabouts. But how can Alexi trust an evil man, who orders the deportation and extermination of her own people?
The author humorously portrays one of the lesser-known institutions in the ghetto: its court system. The system included a criminal court that mostly addressed cases of theft, a labor court that resolved issues of work discipline, and a civil court that dealt with private conflicts among ghetto residents. Survivor Ruth Bondy wrote of the civil court: "Most of the plaintiffs were older people, mainly from Germany, who were more sensitive about their dignity [. . .]. But perhaps what these people sought most of all was the reassurance that there was still justice, and a judge, in the world." In the sketch the conflict is resolved in a humorous way that not only disarms the plaintiff and charms the judge but entertains the courtroom—as well as the Terezín/Theresienstadt audience.
The Last Cyclist
Dress rehearsal in Terezín of a bitterly funny absurdist allegory mocking Nazism and the evils of prejudice: Cyclists (Jews) are the victims of lunatics (Nazis) who escape their asylum to persecute bike riders. Many ridiculous misadventures later, the schlemiel of a hero defeats the lunatics by accidentally sending them to the moon on the rocket ship they had built to be rid of him, the last remaining cyclist. He tells the audience, “Go home! You are free!” but his girlfriend objects: “Only here on the stage is there a happy ending. Out there, where you are, the rule of madness continues.”
The Model Ghetto
A dramatic representation of the model ghetto/camp of Terezín/Theresienstadt.
The Star on My Heart
Based on survivor Inge Auerbacher, the play follows Inge's life in back-and-forth vignettes. At age seven, Inge and her family are taken from their home in Germany and sent to the Terezín concentration camp. Three years of harsh conditions, death, and fear follow her. When she is liberated from Terezín in 1945, Inge falls ill with tuberculosis. She spends two years on complete bedrest in a New York City hospital ward. Once released, Inge attempts to fit in at her new high school, and discovers a love of science. She graduates after two years of schooling and goes on to become a successful chemist and author.
The Terezín Promise
When the Terezín concentration camp is liberated, a group of children risk their lives to save the drawings and poems made by the children of the camp during their time as prisoners. A young girl, Raja Englanderova made a promise to her teacher Irena that she would not leave without the pieces of art. They have to save the work before the Nazis destroy all evidence of their lives.
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.
Way to Heaven
About the sham Jewish settlement at Theresienstadt, or Terezín, in what is now the Czech Republic, set up by the Nazis to persuade observers that Jews were held in humane conditions. A make-believe utopia, Theresienstadt (the German name) was an effective propaganda tool. In reality, it was a concentration camp, and a way station leading to Auschwitz and other death camps.
Why We Laugh: A Terezín Cabaret
An adaptation of the Terezín cabaret combines scenes and songs from the original cabaret with new scenes that reflect upon a scholar’s attempts to imagine how that original cabaret might have been performed. This performance marked the first time that scenes and songs from Why We Laugh returned to Terezín since its original performances in 1944.