The SAR High School Drama Society staged two superb performances of “And a Child Shall Lead.” The play, written by Michael Slade, was inspired by the writings of Jewish children imprisoned in the Theresienstadt ghetto-camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II. The words of these real-life children are interwoven throughout the play to help tell the chilling, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring true story of a group of brave children who refused to stop living, even in the direst of circumstances.
Under the constant threat of discovery and execution by Nazi guards, Terezin’s children played, conducted school, produced art, music, poetry and theater and created a newspaper to document daily events at Terezin. Through their art and play, the children processed, elevated and beautified their seemingly bleak existence. With their paper, they hoped to inform and bolster their fellow prisoners and to share the truth with the outside world in order to combat German propaganda. Sadly, 90% of Terezin’s youth were transported to death camps or perished from disease, malnutrition, overpopulation and at the hands of Nazi guards. Even so, much of their work survives until today, and with it, their defiant, courageous and brilliant spirits.
Stepping into the pain and trauma suffered by real children no older than the students was trying work for the talented, committed cast and crew. Even so, by highlighting and celebrating the children’s vivacity, strength and determination to make positive change, students were humored, comforted and galvanized throughout the rehearsal process. They treated each character with respect and admiration and successfully tackled dark, emotionally demanding subject matter.
Both audiences raved that the production was moving, beautiful, brave and an artistic triumph. The overwhelmingly positive feedback was exceptionally rewarding for all the students who put their hearts and souls into bringing this production to life. Most special of all, however, was their ability to honor and pay tribute to the extraordinary youth of Terezin and to follow their example of using art to explore, uplift and enrich our world.
Thank you to everyone who supported the show!