Peformances Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Everett Theatre
One of the most striking plays of all time is being presented at The Everett Theatre this weekend. “And a Child Shall Lead” is Michael Slade’s true and heart-wrenching story of the children of Terezin—an 18th century fortress located near present day Prague that the Nazis used as an internment camp from 1941–45.
Thousands of Jews from Czechoslovakia, as well as Germany and Austria were imprisoned there, including some 15,000 children. The concentration camp was a holding place where Jews either died from starvation or disease, or were later transported to one of the Nazi death camps of Auschwtiz, Majdanek or Treblinka.
Slade’s drama tells the story of Terezin through the eyes of eight Jewish children, ages six to 15. Trapped in a place of ceaseless hunger, sickness and horror, the children strove to create hope and beauty by playing games, drawing, writing, creating their own newspaper and predominantly by expressing their desire for a better future—one that was worth surviving for. Slade masterfully intertwines some of the actual poems and stories written by those children into the play. What results is a stirring, poignant portrayal of the brutality of war as seen through the eyes of the children ravaged by such conflict.
The cast itself has at times been brought to tears as they worked to bring truth and realism to the stage. As one of the young actors, Daria Willis (whose great-grandfather was part of the Soviet Army that liberated Prague in May of 1945), stated after one such trying evening, “When the children started dying, I was crying onstage…one of my friends was crying backstage …it was really a tough evening to get through…”
Another of the cast, Ryan Connor, puts it in perspective: “For me the show was a challenge to perform because it required me to tap into a lot of strong emotions…it was a devastating piece of history that is hard to even imagine.”
Cast member Julian Clarke had a different reason for being touched by the show’s intensity.
“This show is special to me because my great-grandfather was a paratrooper in World War II,” Clarke said. “He had his leg broken in the war, and afterwards he walked with a limp until he died. I’m reminded of this every day because I’m named after him.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT Historical drama “And a Child Shall Lead”
WHERE The Everett Theatre, 47 W. Main St., Middletown
WHEN Friday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m.
TICKETS Adults $18; seniors/students $15; ages 12 and under $10.