A visit to the English Theater Frankfurt with the English advanced class: The play “Kindertransport”


A visit to the English Theater Frankfurt with the English advanced class: The play “Kindertransport” 

On January 29th the English advanced class (E-Phase) led by Mrs Trikic went to see the play “Kindertransport” at the English Theatre in Frankfurt. 

What is the play about?

During the Kindertransport, a British rescue mission that took place at the beginning of WWII, over 10,000 Jewish children from various countries were placed in British foster homes and families to save them from certain death.

The play tells the story of how nine-year-old Eva, a German Jewish girl, is sent by her parents on the Kindertransport to start a new life with a foster family in Britain just before the outbreak of World War II. More than forty years later, she has changed her name to Evelyn and denied her roots. When her own daughter discovers old letters and photos in the attic, she is forced to confront the truth about who she really is and to reveal a dark secret that she has done everything to keep hidden.

Kindertransport depicts the agony of separating a child from her parents and wrestles with the consequences of that choice that, while an act of sacrifice, also wreaks devastating results.

(play summary taken from the website of the English Theatre Frankfurt)

Review by the students Hannah Zurwehme, Noah Hügen, Emily Hopfenmüller: 

From the very beginning the audience was swept into the exciting narrative of Eva. The dynamic between past and present was wonderfully displayed, as they were acted out simultaneously, side-by-side. In addition, the importance of the historical references was shown with many moving and emotional scenes. Our highest compliments to the actors who were able to stir up so much emotion among the audience.

It is shocking to think that many people do not know much about Kindertransport, although it played a big role in WW2. After the play, many of us became eager to learn more about it. We researched at home and talked about it in class. We feel like more people should learn more about it.

In summary, the play was a perfect mix of fiction and historical accuracy. It is a play worth watching. So, if you have time, we recommend you get tickets as soon as possible. We promise, it will not disappoint!


A conversation with the cast after the play

After the play students had a chance to ask questions regarding the topic and the production.
The Interview started with the actors introducing themselves, with their name, their character and their acting experience.
Tracy, the oldest of them and who is British, has been on stage for 35 years. Her character Lil is the foster mother of the protagonist Eva. Right next to her was Michelle who played Eva. She is from Germany and has been an actress for 2 years. In the middle we had newcomer Alex, in the role of Faith, Evelyn’s daughter, who has been on stage for her very first time. And finally there were Isabell and the one and only man in the play - Alex. Isabell, who is from Germany, played Evelyn too, aka Eva later on in life, and Alex, who is from Britain, played all the other side characters, who portray Eva’s/ Evelyn's struggles with the circumstances, but most importantly, the ratcatcher.
The play covers almost five decades in which the characters constantly switch. The first question was about the struggles implied by that. The actors all agreed that it was hard, especially at the beginning, but throughout the time and, specifically through rehearsals with costumes, it got easier.
Another very controversial aspect was the fact that two of Alex's side characters did the Nazi salute several times. Due to our German upbringing, this was a rather strange image to look at. Alex said that in his role it was not really a problem to him because he could mentally distance himself from the action. Another important aspect was his education, which allowed him the needed awareness for this.
The production included not only regular rehearsals, but also educational aspects, like a visit to the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt and meetings with authors and contemporary witnesses, which introduced the cast to the topic through different perspectives. 

Tracy, the actress that played Lil, was the only one who had to switch between 1939 and 1971, which she described as hard at first, but she also explained how it got easier throughout the whole process of practicing.
Another important question was the relation to the Kindertransporte. None of the actors auditioned for the play for the sake of the topic because none of them had ever heard of the Kindertransporte before the production. Tracy stated that this was one of the many reasons why the play was of such great importance. She related it to current situations in which children have to leave their home country in order to survive and where parents have to decide whether their child is supposed to live a life completely away from them, their culture and their roots, or if they should live in a constant fear of being killed. Accordingly, the play highlights the aspect of the identity crisis Eva goes through as she has no opportunity to stick to her own culture and eventually adapts her foster mother's culture, leaving her German-Jewish past completely behind and even changing her name. She claims that the play not only contributes to the audience’s understanding for regarding current crises, but also to their awareness for the silence of many affected people.
However, although the awareness on the topic is allegedly very small and most people think they have never heard of the topic and its concept, the well-known story of Paddington Bear, for example, is actually inspired by the Kindertransporte and proves this assumption wrong. 

In conclusion, the interview was a great way to wrap up the topic, answer remaining questions and review the experience, as students got information on the play and especially the meaning and importance behind it.

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