Two upcoming performances of the play “Kindertransport,” one in Fairmont and one in Charleston, will help showcase the talent of Fairmont State University students to a statewide audience.
In October 2010, FSU produced the play, which is based on actual events of the families involved in the Kindertransport program. Showcasing the heroic acts of families in both Germany and England to save children orphaned by the Holocaust, the play centers around the life of one of those children, a 7-year-old girl named Eva Schlesinger. Evacuated from Nazi Germany by train and sent to England, Eva is raised for many years by an English woman while her mother and father are taken to one of the Nazi internment camps.
The FSU School of Fine Arts and the Masquers theatre group will present a repeat performance of the award-wining play by Diane Samuels at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, in the Wallman Hall Theatre on the FSU main campus. Admission to this performance will be “Pay What You Can.” Proceeds will go toward funding travel for theatre students. For tickets, call (304) 367-4240 or visit www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets. The production is appropriate for those ages 10 and older.
As part of the Collegiate Series sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, FSU has been invited by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith to present “Kindertransport” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Culture Center, located in the Capitol Complex in Charleston. Admission to this performance is free and open to the public.
“We are so pleased to be invited to perform for a second time in the Collegiate Series; we presented the ‘Remembering #9: Stories from the Farmington Mine Disaster’ last year as part of the series. We are proud to present this production of ‘Kindertransport,’ which was recently honored by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival as one of the most outstanding in the region,” said Peter Lach, Dean of the School of Fine Arts.
The Kennedy Center/ACTF also presented Meritorious Awards of Excellence to the student designers of the show, including Cora Childress for costuming, Matt Snyder for lighting, Even Storm for sound design and Jeremiah Ripley for prop design. Bruce McGlumphy, Morgan Davis, Samantha Huffman and Eliza Huff were nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan Award Competition for their acting talents in “Kindertransport.”
FSU is sponsoring a charter bus to travel to and from the Charleston performance on Feb. 8. Fifty-five seats are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis. The bus will leave Fairmont at 1 p.m. Feb. 8 and will return about 11:30 p.m. Box lunches and play tickets will be provided for those who ride the bus. To reserve a seat on the bus, call (304) 367-4009.
A reception will begin at 5 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Culture Center. The FSU Guitar Ensemble will play during the reception. A brief program begins at 5:45 p.m., immediately followed by the demonstration of a public school workshop activity led by Dr. Francene Kirk and FSU students. The Charleston play performance begins at 7 p.m.
“The workshop will be an example of using creative dramatic in the classroom, as well as a way of connecting education content from the production to students’ lives,” Lach said.
Under the direction of Jeffrey Ingman, Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing, the cast members include Lydia Mong as Evelyn, Phyl Charnes as Lil, Morgan Davis as Eva, Samantha Huffman as Faith, Elizabeth Huff as Helga and Bruce McGlumphy as The Ratcatcher.
Although the play “Kindertransport” is a work of fiction, it is based on extensive historical research and on the lives of several actual kindertransport children.
The kindertransport saga began in Nazi-controlled Germany on the night of November 9, 1938, a night which became known as Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” when 30,000 Jewish males were rounded up, arrested and deported to concentration camps. More than a thousand synagogues across Germany and Austria were looted and burned.
Immediately after this event, an urgent appeal went out to the nations of the world to open their doors to Germany’s Jewish children, in order to save them from the imminent threat of deportation to the camps. Of all the nations that were asked to accept refugee children, only Britain did so.
Within a few weeks, beginning on Dec. 2, 1938, trains were rolling out of Germany filled with Jewish children. Just nine months later, on Sept. 3, 1939, war was declared and the railroads were shut down. During this short period, nearly 10,000 Jewish children were received safely into England and distributed among private foster families, orphanages, hostels and farms throughout England, Wales, Scotland and northern Ireland.
As for the Jewish parents left behind in Germany, despite continued efforts to get them out, or to locate them after the war, it is estimated that some 90 percent of them perished in the death camps.
To view a video about these performances of “Kindertransport,” visit www.youtube.com/fairmontstatemedia.