The concentration camp and Jewish ghetto at Terezin, or Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic, was a site of enormous suffering, fear, and death; but in the midst of this was a thriving and desperately vibrant cultural life. While the children s drawings and musical pieces created in the ghetto have become justly famous, the prisoners theatrical works, though a lesser-known aspect of their artistic endeavors, deserves serious attention as well.
"Performing Captivity" collects eleven theatrical textscabaret songs and sketches, historical and verse dramas, puppet plays, anda Purim playwritten by Czech and Austrian Jews. Together these works reveal the wide range of ways in which the prisoners engaged with and escaped from life in the ghetto through performance. The anthology opens with an insightful preface by novelist Ivan Klima, who was interned in the ghetto as achild, and contains a detailed introduction by editor Lisa Peschel about the pre-war theatrical influences and wartime conditions that inspired the theater of the ghetto.
The array of theatrical forms collected in "Performing Captivity" speaks of the prisoners persistence of hope in a harrowing time and will be moving reading for students of the Holocaust. "