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Performing the Shoah

Josh Green is an actor and director, currently undertaking a PhD in French Studies, focusing on the theatre of the Holocaust, generously supported by a Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities. Rebecca Herman is a solo cellist and chamber musician who is currently pursuing her doctoral studies on the music of the Holocaust at the Royal Academy of Music, where she has previously held the Leverhulme (Chamber Music) and Meaker (Solo) Fellowships.

It is our intention to gather a group of actors and a dramaturge, and expose them to various items of Holocaust representation, such as Primo Levi’s If This is a Man, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and, perhaps most importantly, the film and text of Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah. Performers will then be asked to write or devise a piece of theatre/performance art/music that encapsulates their response to the work shown. For the first few sessions, we will be concentrating simply on exposing the group to a variety of artistic and critical material, and exploring the reactions to these. The music produced and performed in Terezin will also be a valuable stimulus. From these reactions and responses, the dramaturge, Rebecca and I will fashion a piece of theatre that functions as a stand-alone piece, requiring no prior knowledge of the Holocaust in order to be intellectually, emotionally, narratively and ethically engaging. This piece of theatre will be composed of the performers’ responses, and the performance of verbatim pieces of testimony, both held together by the narrative thread of the company’s attempts at representation and the difficulties we face in encountering this material.

The most important thing to stress at this point is that this will not be a play about the Holocaust; it will be a piece of theatre about the difficulties of Holocaust representation, and about how we respond to the Holocaust nowadays, and what it means to our generation. This could then shed new light on how it is that we respond to other more contemporary disasters and genocides, although that would be an added bonus, rather than the main focus.

 

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Further information can be found at:

http://performingtheshoah.weebly.com/

Performances will be held in the Humanities Studio in week 10 of the spring term 2013-14