Friday, October 22, 2010

Czeching out Prague: Terezin

I've always had a dramatic flair. I've always enjoyed acting and putting on a show.
In High School I got to use my dramatic side more than once, and honestly, the times I was on stage were some of my happiest memories. 
I love being able to fully integrate into a character and get to be "someone else" for just that little bit.
Now, it's one thing to play a fictional character. It's an entirely different thing to play a real person. Especially when it's a play about something as serious as The Holocaust.
In high school I had the great honor of playing the role/lead of Raja Englanderova, a girl that was held in the Terezin ghetto in Prague. The play is "I never saw another Butterfly" and it's based on the stories of all of the children that lived in the ghetto and off of one poem in particular.
Today, I got to experience a dream of mine. Jon and I finally made it to Terezin and I actually got to see the ghetto, the small fortress prison (most of the pictures are from that), and see pictures drawn by Raja. It was supremely surreal, emotional, and humbling.
Throughout this post I'll be putting poems written by the children of Terezin. These poems were also incorporated into the play as well...

The poor thing stands there vainly.
Vainly he strains his voice.
Perhaps he'll die. Then can you say
How beautiful is the world today?
Zdenek Ohrenstein (survived)

He doesn't know the world at all
Who stays in his next and doesn't go out.
He doesn't know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of lovliness.

When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth's aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to open up your heart
To beauty; go to the woods someday
And weave a wreathe of memory there.
Then if the tears obscure your way
You'll know how wonderful it is
To be alive.
unknown author

the killing field
You wanton, quiet memory that haunts me all the while
In order to remind me of her whom love I send.
Perhaps when you caress me sweetly, I will smile,
You are my confidante today, my very dearest friend.
our muskrat friends
You sweet remembrance, tell a fairy tale.
About my girl whose lost and gone, you see.
Tell, tell the one about the golden grail
And call the swallow, bring her back to me.

Fly somewhere back to he and ask her, soft and low,
If she thinks of me sometimes with love,
If she is well and ask her too before you go
If I am still her dearest, precious dove.

the gate the prisoners were brought to before they were executed

And hurry back, don't lose your way,
So I can think of other things,
But you were too lovely, perhaps, to stay.
I loved you once. Goodbye, my love!
Zdenek Ohrenstein (survived)

The Butterfly
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone...

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished
to kiss the world goodbye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
In the ghetto

Pavel Friedmann (7.1.1921-29.9.1944)


Joelle and Mitch said...

Alright, I am tearing up here. That really was an amazing glad we all did it. I remember on the last performance when you said "and he never got his shoes" everyone was crying. Even me! What an experience to actually be able to go there...

Happy rest of your travels!!!

David said...

I cried real tears over this. It brought back so many memories: the play, the kids, the audience, the years together as a group. "Heiny" (hope you don't mind that!), you, Bridge, Brian, Joelle, Rocky, Kim (The list goes on) were a group I will NEVER forget.You made me look damn good. "Butterflies", "Girl in the Mirror", the one acts were special and so were you and that whole group. I'll never forget you!