'Korczak's Children' Cast Gains New Perspective on Characters
This fall the Upper School drama department will present “Korczak’s Children,” the story of Dr. Janusz Korczak and the Jewish orphans in his care during World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland. For the show’s cast, the characters they will portray took on new dimension recently when they had the privilege of meeting with Leo Weiss, a survivor of the Holocaust in Warsaw.
Mr. Weiss, the 86-year-old grandfather of a Blake Upper School student, sat down with director Diane Landis and members of the cast and recounted some of the experiences his family endured living in a Warsaw ghetto. He, his two siblings and their parents were eventually brought to five different concentration camps and, following the war, all five were reunited and relocated to Canada.
He told of a Nazi soldier who, without explanation, took the family from their apartment in the ghetto to a hiding spot, where they lived for three days without food or water. When the soldier finally retrieved them, they learned that the ghetto had just been “cleansed” and that the solider had saved the family because Weiss’ father had been his tailor. Weiss explained that he still struggles with his feelings toward the soldier who had saved his family but yet took the lives of countless others.
Blake’s young actors had an opportunity to ask Mr. Weiss questions about how the characters they are playing might have viewed the events of the day as they were unfolding, giving them a better sense of how they might portray them on stage. The increasingly rare experience of talking with someone who has lived through the Holocaust is one that Diane Landis says she is certain her students will remember forever.
“Korczak’s Children” runs Nov. 18-20 in the MacMillan Performing Arts Center on the Blake campus in Hopkins. Online ticket reservations will be available soon. Please watch for future posts about this production.