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NUMBERS FROM PRAGUE DEBUT PERFORMANCE

Our world premiere production of ‘Numbers from Prague’ was hugely successful with a near full house at The Junction theatre.  Written by Tom Penn (after initial research by Mike Levy) and directed by Keystage Arts’ Lesley Ford, the play was inspired by a visit to Cambridge  HMD by Sir Nicholas Winton. Back in 1939, the English stockbroker appalled at what he saw in Nazi Europe, took action to help save over 660 Jewish children from certain death.  In our conversations with Sir Nicholas (now 101) it was clear that he is still saddened by the 250 children left on the final train from Prague – a train that never left.


Penn’s short play is a dream-like exploration of Winton’s heroic rescue work and the tragic loss of those children who never made it to refuge in Britain. That said, ‘Numbers from Prague’ focuses its steely attention on the children: those who came on the ‘Winton Trains’ escaping the Nazi pogroms in 1939.  The strength of this production was surely in the immense talent of its very young cast (ages 9 and upwards). They managed the astonishing act of capturing the hopes, excitement, fears and the profound sense of loss of those real Winton children most of whom never saw their real parents again.  Among the many poignant scenes in the play, the one that perhaps stands out is where the children wave farewell to their parents at the Wilson station in Prague.  The slo-mo effect, the wonderful sound underscore worked to focus our attention on their expressions: bitter partings, the half-concealed thrill at taking a journey, bewilderment at what was happening to them: they managed to capture all those emotions with a mere glance, a half sad smile, a childish premonition that this was to be a defining moment in their whole lives. All this was done with complete integrity and understanding.  The young cast also managed to bring Penn’s rather beautiful poetic language to life and there was not a dry eye in the house when at the end of the play, the children crossing an invisible time barrier, show us that thanks to Winton they have survived, flourished, bred new generations and beaten Hitler.


The audience reactions to the play were incredible: ‘the best piece of youth theatre I have ever seen’, ‘Tom produced a fantastic script and I thought you did a great job in bringing it to life... in fact Keystage seems to be developing it's own style from the three shows I've seen….’, ‘A brilliantly executed ensemble piece. There was very impressive discipline from the cast and not only did they all understand it (in both story and style) but they all actually LISTENED to each other on stage, which really came across. I hope you're proud of such a wonderful achievement.’

 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


NUMBERS FROM PRAGUE

Our world premiere production of ‘Numbers from Prague’ was hugely successful with a near full house at The Junction theatre.  Written by Tom Penn (after initial research by Mike Levy) and directed by Keystage Arts’ Lesley Ford, the play was inspired by a visit to Cambridge  HMD by Sir Nicholas Winton. Back in 1939, the English stockbroker appalled at what he saw in Nazi Europe, took action to help save over 660 Jewish children from certain death.  In our conversations with Sir Nicholas (now 101) it was clear that he is still saddened by the 250 children left on the final train from Prague – a train that never left.



 

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